International Awards

So many
photography studios now days use the term “award winning portraits” to promote
their business.  So many, that the term no longer really seems to carry as much impact… 
Understandably so, for all you know the only awards some of those
photographers may have won were for local competitions
amongst non-professionals, right? 

So to justify our studio’s use of
that term to ourselves and to our clients, each year we enter our work into one
of the largest international photographic competitions.  We aim to set ourselves apart,
so that we can continue to say that we are one of the leading photography studios in the nation.  This year marks the third year our studio has
entered the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) International Photographic Competition. 

Within this competition
there are two separate categories that professional photographers can enter
their work into – the Photographic Open Competition and the Master
Artist (MA) Competition.  Thousands of professional photographers from around
the world submit their images.  Each photographer is only allowed to enter 4 of
their very best images into each of the categories.  Only the most exceptional
images entered – the ones regarded as the “best of the best” – are accepted into
the prestigious PPA Loan Collection.  These images in the PPA Loan collection
are viewed throughout the world as setting the standard of excellence in
photographic imaging.

Last week the results of
the competition were announced and we are very excited to announce that all
four of Ben’s portraits entered into the Photographic Open Competition were
judged as Loan worthy. In the Master Artist Competition three of Ben’s four
images were judged as Loan worthy. For a total of 7 Loans!

Loaning all four images
in the Photographic Open Competition means for the third year in a row Ben
receives the International Diamond Photographer of the Year
designation…  which only a few photographers
throughout the world earn each year (to be exact only in 12 in
2011, 8 in 2012 and only a handful in 2013)! 

Ben is honored that his
portraits were accepted into the Loan collection but one of the things he
is most proud about is the fact that the images he entered truly
represent the kind of work that he creates on a regular basis.  Nearly all of
his Master Artist images were originally created for clients, while nearly all
of his Photographic Open portraits were created while instructing other
photographers around the country. 

Below are Ben’s
Photographic Open Loan images. We will try to get around to writing a post about
his Master Artist images sometime soon…

“Enchanted” was created late one night while Ben was teaching in Rockwall, Texas. The scene was lit using a constant light so that the other photographers watching could easily see how the light placement and angle was crucial to creating good light on a subject. Ben was using the lobby of the Hilton Hotel which obviously had some beautiful decorations. He did some minor touch ups in Photoshop to remove distracting lights that was showing through the curtains, and he also removed some of the class attendees that happened to be too close 🙂

“Ravishing” was also created in Rockwall, Texas while Ben was teaching a class (possibly even that same night as the portrait above)  Ben spent most of the class showing how to create dynamic composites, but he also captured a few simple well-lit portraits of the model.  In Photoshop Ben added a texture overlay and a few other minor corrections. He chose to enter this image into the competition because he wanted to prove that he was not only good at creating storytelling scenes but that he could also produce beautiful classic portraits.

“When the Music Ends” was something Ben had been wanting to create for awhile. While he was teaching some classes in Wisconsin last fall he met the perfect model for his idea and she had the perfect outfit. Ben had not yet even begun to construct the scene for his idea but he knew he wanted a worn circus performer hanging off of an old carousel horse. He had her sit on a high stool and pretend she was leaning off the side of a horse. He had to visualize the angle that he would build the scene at, the direction that the horse would be going, and the intensity, angle, and quality of light.  By the end, it took a great while to put this scene together. The old train was photographed while teaching a class out in Idaho, the grass and broken carriage was photographed in New Orleans at yet another class. If you look closely, far in the background are some circus animals slowly moving in the same direction. The leading lines of the train and the tattered flags help lead the viewers eye to the subject.

“How to Catch a Wolf” is another that Ben had been thinking about for awhile. This one was more of a personal challenge for Ben.  He wanted to create something with a very different look than what he had done before. Many of his preferred images have warm dark tones like those above and he wanted to see what the opposite would look like. The background he captured early one morning. He’s not normally a morning person but that morning he happened to be on his way to jury duty. It was a misty frozen morning and he took the back way out of town down some gravel roads when he crossed a bridge and saw those trees. He was already a bit late but decided to turn around and head back to the studio for his camera and he’s glad he did! He wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the scene but he knew it was beautiful. (side note – he definitely arrived late for Jury Duty!)  The wolves came from Yellowstone. While out in Idaho teaching a class Ben had the opportunity to photograph some white wolves at a very close range (he says they are a very cool sight up close!) and he knew exactly then what he wanted to do with them. There are 8 wolves with in the final scene ghosting in and out of the forest. For the subject he wanted a slight pop of color and decided that Red Riding Hood would be a fun subject, but he wanted to give the story a twist. The story of Red Riding Hood has been recreated a million times, so instead he thought “what if the subject was not trying to flea the wolves but was instead using the red riding hood costume as bait to lure the wolves into a trap? If you look very closely you can also see the faintest of silhouettes of a castle in the background. The portrait was printed on a fine art water color paper to give it the feel of an artistic rendering.