As you probably know, I have been entering the International Photographic Competition (IPC) for many years. It’s the largest of it’s kind and is conducted by the Professional Photographers Association of America (PPA) of which I am a member. It can be kind of hard to understand how it works so let me try and explain it as simply as possible.

There are three different competitions.

Photography Open

Artist Open

Wedding Open

Photography Open is for all types of photography. You can enter anything here and do anything to it in Photoshop.

Artist Open is for what you can do with an image after it is shot. We call it the Photoshop degree. You don’t even have to use your own images. This is where you see wild creations and abstract art.

Wedding Open is for wedding photography shot on the day of the wedding. This is a new and is only in it’s second year.

You may enter just 4 images into each of the competitions. A panel of trained judges evaluates each image and votes on whether that image deserves a “Merit.” Half the images do not receive a Merit. Then, all the Merit images are seen by a second group of judges who decide if the image deserves to move up to the “Image Excellence” designation. Only about half those images make it. Sometimes quite a bit less.

What does this mean for the photographer? Well. the Merits add up. You get a Merit when your image is found worthy of a Merit and you get another one if your image is picked for Image Excellence. So, you can get 2 Merits a year per image. Most people average 2-4 a year for each competition they enter and most people only enter one..

These Merits count toward degrees that are given out by the PPA. If you get 13 Merits in a competition, you are called a “Master.” I am a Master Photographer, for example. because I have received over 13 Merits in the Photographic Open Competition. I’m over half-way to being a Wedding Master as well.

There’s more to it, for example there are a couple of books that are published that feature the Image Excellence images and the best of the Merit Images. There’s also categories within each competition and there is a “Top 10” list for each one. If you Merit all four of your images you are called a Bronze Medalist. If you Merit all four and one of them gets Image excellence you are Silver, 4/2 is Gold, and so on.

All these awards and Merits are displayed on a lanyard that photographers wear around their necks at conventions.

This year was special because they added a new category to “Photographic Open.” The category is called “Reportage.” This category is for images that are shot where the photographer has no control over the subject. Sports photography, street photography, news… this is the sort of thing that goes in the Reportage category. I love this kind of photography and so I entered all 4 images in Reportage.

Unbelievably, all 4 images got a Merit and 2 of them were picked for Image Excellence. It’s the best I have ever done!

I’ve entered this 3 times. The new category allowed it to finally get the Merit and Image Excellence!

I also entered into the Wedding Competition and received 2 merits there.

It was a pretty good year for me!