Benefits of Print Competition

Benefits of Print Competition

Intro by Skip Cohen


Working together with Mark Weber on the Marathon Blog, we decided to have some fun and build a new series of short podcasts.


The idea is to help you grow through our years of experience, share ideas from around the country on marketing, business and help you learn from some of our mistakes so that you can make new ones of your own.


We decided to kick the series off by talking about print competition:


As I look back on my career since joining Hasselblad in the late 80s, one of the most beneficial and educational experiences has been print competition. The first time I entered a print, I went in to watch the judging. My print never came up, but I was so wrapped up in the experience, I stayed for four hours!


From that year on, whether I entered work or not, has never mattered. I always walk through the print exhibits and attend open judging whenever possible. And in the end, it’s made me a better photographer!


Mark’s no stranger to print competition, having received his Image Excellence Bar this year (each one represents 13 additional loan images); he holds Photographer of the Year titles in Nebraska and Missouri, including Heart of America; and the list goes on and on, including his Masters, Craftsman and CPP degrees from PPA.


Me, I’m just a sideline hacker who loves photography. My passion is the business and marketing side of the industry but hanging out with guys like Mark over the years, I’ve learned a lot and know more than I let on.  However, I do hold a couple of PPA degrees and love what they do, along with WPPI when it comes to print comp.


Between the two of us, we want to help you grow as both artists and business owners. Welcome to the Marathon Marketing Moment.


Print Competition by Mark Weber


Print competition. Just the mention of it causes many emotions in photographers – Excitement. Anxiety. Hope. Dread. Sound familiar? I have been entering print competition for many, many years. Some of my best memories at our State Conventions revolved around print competition. All conversations started with – did you enter? (Instant respect if you did!) Followed by – How’d you do?


I don’t know what’s considered a “normal” feeling that describes when your image first appears to be judged but I always have an “oh jeez Lord” moment when they announce your title and your image appears for all to see. I’ve heard others describe It’s like standing naked in front of a crowd. All that hard work comes down to an average score by a handful of judges. Sometimes it’s a quick decision and other times it’s challenged and discussed at great length.


You love hearing – I scored this in the 90s by a judge who obviously recognizes your genius. But then there’s the judge who starts out with an apology and says – “I’m sorry guys, I’m going to be the bad guy here” and then proceeds to convince the others to lower their score. In short, print competition has a lot of benefits for photographers of all types and skill levels. It educates, motivates, and even teaches you good sportsmanship and humility.


But can you turn print competition into a benefit for your customers? Yes! Chris Fritchie, McKinney, Texas does just that. He enters a lot of work from his client’s actual sessions. When his images do well he not only informs his client but turns it into a publicity piece for his studio. Clients get very excited to know they were part of an award-winning image and it turns into a referral opportunity as they tell their friends too.


Need some inspiration? The PPA Image Excellence & PPA Show books are an incredible resource. This is like having a constant tutorial at your side. This is the road map for competition success and what to aspire to with every image you submit. It also gives you some great ideas for titles!




Besides increasing your skillset you can also turn your success into publicity by announcing your achievements on social media as well as any printed materials, etc. Hint: You don’t have to be Photographer of the Year to have something exciting to share!


With the PPA District Judging dates on May 16-19, now is the time to start gathering your images and begin preparing them. Early registration is March 1- April 14. Late registration is April 14-May 3rd. This is an excellent opportunity to get some merits prior to the September 11-15th IPC Judging. If your print doesn’t merit there you can either make changes to it based on things heard from the judge’s comments or go with a different print.


Listen in as Skip Cohen and I discussed Print Competition here –



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This article was written by
Mark Weber

Mark Weber M.Photog., Cr., M. Artist, CPP is a veteran professional photographer and marketing consultant with Marathon Press. He spearheads the MAP Program at Marathon Press which helps photographers gain control of their business to take their business to a new level with ongoing marketing support. He holds several Photographer of the Year titles and was recently presented with the PPA National Award, given for outstanding service to the photographic industry.

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