2009 - I had just recently joined up with the Professional Photographers of America and met a very dynamic group of photographers at the Illinois state convention. I was first impressed at how easy and open to share information everybody was. Then I had the good fortune to meet the guys: Three of the most talented and visually gifted photographers I've ever met. Iconic? That's a big word but these guys have created some iconic work. From the grandure of the wild west... to angst ridden portraits that make you shudder if you stare too long... to beautiful works of art from simple garden weeds... John • Paul • Michael Michael Barton, Paul Rogers & John Metcalfe continue to be instrumental in helping me develop my photographic vision and finishing technique. If you ever need some tough love and a true critique of your work - get to know these guys and put on your thick skin. John likes to say "The more thou sweat-est in preparation, the less thou bleed-est in competition." I'm pretty certain I've bled plenty under their mentoring. This image entitled, "Bucket of Buddy" was my first entry into the seriously competitive world of print competition. I photographed my dog, Buddy. Spent an hour or so in Photoshop and presented it to the guys. Then I re-photographed Buddy. Spent a few more hours in Photoshop and presented it to the guys. Can you say rinse and repeat? Subtle things like retouching eyes, warming up the ears, eliminating all things unnecessary to the image. Finally, at my first print competition at the state convention in Illinois
I was we were awarded a solid score of 83 (my first Merit) and a Judge's Choice award for the image! I am continually humbled each and every time I have the opportunity to go to print competition and bask in the beautiful imagery that is presented and I hope to continue building my portfolio of merits - someday earning my photographic master's degree from the PPA. Until then I'll keep shooting and reshooting.... the more I sweat.. the less I bleed.