Friday's Fab Photographer: Mary Lou Johnson

Each Friday you'll mostly likely find a Fab Photographer here on my blog. Today: Mary Lou Johnson.

Thank you, Rick, for inviting me to add to your blog. I’m very honored to be a part of it.

Occasionally, I enjoy competing with my images. It's an easy way to get them in front of a new audience and get some feedback. Recently, I decided to go beyond a local level of competition and on the spur of the moment put four pieces in the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) Southeast district competition. Three merited (first three shown) which then qualified them for the International level that I didn’t even know about. All three merited there and will now be displayed in the PPA International Exhibition at their Annual Convention in New Orleans in Jan 2011. "Crayola Eight Pack" was also additionally chosen for their annual book.  Surprise, surprise!  

My point is you just never know and won't know until you put your work out there—OUT of your own computer --- hence, the BOX. I have shown and sold locally and on my website but had not ventured further except for random smaller contests. Yes, there is a comfort zone in the box but what do you have to lose? It can be fun and offer great exposure, too. I've been pushed, challenged, encouraged and excited by doing this for the last few years.  

Several things to consider:

RESEARCH carefully chosen photo competitions, local and beyond. Very important in deciding which ones to enter is to know who owns what rights.  

Read the very small print, KEEP all of your rights and LIMIT theirs. Often, they will only use your images for promotional materials and will credit you. 

It is also a good idea to register any submitted images on before you submit them for your protection. Copyright (which you have automatically) is ok but if you need to go to court  then you better have them registered. The process has become easier as they are trying to streamline it.

Twelve elements I find very helpful in competing have been well defined by PPA  and are used in judging at all their local, state, regional and national competitions. Briefly, they are Impact, Technical Excellence, Creativity, Style, Composition, Presentation, Color Balance, Center of Interest, Lighting, Subject Matter, Technique, and Story Telling. I believe these are good guidelines for most competitions. 

Be sure to select and send ONLY those images that suit the competition. If it says specifically "Outdoors" don't send your fantastic shot no matter how great it is that was taken indoors.  The THEME is important. There shouldn't be a question if yours suits the theme or not.

The format, size and resolution will be stated and your image will be thrown out before it even competes if yours isn't done correctly. This can be done in Lightroom 3 or Photoshop easily.

Naming the photo file as they specify is also vital to staying in for judging.  

Don't send more images than allowed but do send the max if yours are suited to the contest.

To see more images, please visit my site.

I hope this encourages you to venture out! Let me know what happens. I'd love to hear! Contact me through my website.  

All my best to you,
Mary Lou Johnson