Tuesday, August 19, 2014


As I write this blog it's a week after the PPA International Print Competition. I entered images in the competition after a hiatus of over 12 years. I didn't stop entering the PPA competition because of any aversion to print comp We were just more focused on working in the business. I did however, compete in WPPI's print comp and various independent competitions over the years.

The image you see here is one of the two studio images I entered into the PPA competition last week.

Daddy's Little Girls
This was a significant studio portrait for me because it reflects a change in philosophy in my style of lighting that is also consistent with what I've been teaching for outdoor natural light photography. That philosophy, in a nutshell, is maintaining direction in lighting to create dimension--the third dimension--by showing a shadow side on my subject's face. To do this in the studio, I reasoned, I needed to use the same lighting techniques I used so successfully outdoors.

Five years ago, after we moved to Idaho, I redesigned my studio completely. 1) I went to the largest size main light, that would still be easily moveable, to simulate the large open sky that I use outside.  I purchased a 7 foot Octobox and put it on wheels. 2) I put away my studio flash fill unit that, per convention, I had always placed high-above and behind me. I reasoned: using fill flash in the studio is exactly the same as using on-camera flash on a portrait outside! And, I call that Lighting Malpractice! These two things dramatically improved the quality of our studio portraits.  They now have dimension and depth. Our subjects are three-dimensional!

So, when Daddy's Little Girls came up for judging, on the first day of the competition I was a little nervous. Would the judges accept my studio lighting not to mention the posing and all the other variables that we must control to get a Merit Print in PPA Competition? Yes, they did. It got the Merit for the General Collection. My first ever merit for a studio portrait! In addition, my other image in the Studio Commercial Category, also received a Merit.  The icing on the cake was when, on the last day of competition, Daddy's Little Girls came back up to be judged for the Loan Collection (the award for the best-of-the-best images this year) and IT WENT LOAN!

It's great to receive critical validation from one's peers, and even more important to me is that our clients Love their portraits, and show it by investing in heirlooms to proudly display on their walls.

As usual, should you have comments or questions don't hesitate.

Author: Jerry W. Venz, MasterPhotographer CPP
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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