Clients to Competition : Come Full Circle in Germantown Hills Illinois Photographer
Monday, September 11, 2017
By Christie @ Sonshine Portrait Design
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Clients to Competition : Come Full Circle in Germantown Hills Illinois Photographer

Recently one said, "That's about print competition, nothing to do with generating new clients". This made me think and I did a little soul searching. Print Competition, also known as Image Competition, has EVERYTHING to do with generating new clients and keeping past ones. The POWER of Print Competition and what it means to me. If it weren't for print competition, I would not be the photographer I am today right now in the moment. In the beginning way back when I started entering, I was turning client images into competition images. Trying to mold them into the 12 elements. Over the years of entering, failing, entering succeeding and failing again... I have evolved into creating client images that have the 12 elements and could be competition images. 

Let me share with you how Clients to Competition : Come Full Circle in Germantown Hills Illinois Photographer. Every year I set new goals for myself in Print Competition. If we don't set goals how do we succeed? I am going to highlight one of my latest Competition Images and take you on the journey of "Making a Merit Image". 

One of the first things I do is come up with a concept. I knew I wanted to enter a Relationship Portrait of some kind. One client popped into mind that would be perfect for this. She is one of the strongest clients I know... and strong not because she does body building, but strong and fierce in the way she is a mother. I started photographing her gorgeous daughter as a newborn and our relationship grew from there. She was referred to Sonshine Portrait Design by a friend. I do believe that when potential clients contact us, that my works stands out. Why? There is a difference in professional photography and someone that owns a camera. I have my Master of Photography Degree, Photographic Craftsmen Degree and I am a Certified Professional Photographer. Learning the process of Print Competition and getting to know the 12 Elements have made a huge impact on what I am delivering to my client and what I am doing in my everyday work.


Clients to Competition : Come Full Circle in Germantown Hills Illinois Photographer, It is not just picking random images and entering them into a contest. There is a purpose behind each image. Like I mentioned before, there is a goal and then concepts are formed. The rest of the 12 Elements that make a merit image factor too. All Elements should be portrayed equally.

Impact . Technical Excellence . Creativity . Style . Composition . Presentation . Color Balance . Center of Interest . Lighting . Subject Matter . Technique . Story Telling 

Once I had the concept I called my client to see if her and her daughter would come in. I asked them to bring certain outfits to fit the "look" I was going for. Same thing I would do for a client session, kind of like a pre consultation. I knew I wanted a relationship portrait. My original concept was very simple with light pink and cream color palette. I photographed them with my original setup and I got some okay images... ones that they will love as a client. But I knew that just wouldn't quite do it for a competition image. I could do better. So I simply asked if I could do one more set up. For the story I was trying to tell I needed something "stronger" so I set up for a low key image. Isn't it funny as artists we just "know" when we got it? I believe it was the last image captured. The expressions... I knew I had nailed it. I did my normal black and white processing to the image that I thought would help the mood I was trying to portray.

Clients to Competition : Come Full Circle in Germantown Hills Illinois Photographer. It was time to enter our District Competition. My district is North Central District which is made up of 12 states. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Manitoba and Ontario. 

I think one of the hardest parts of entering an image into Print Competition is giving it a title. A title can be a huge supporting element to the image and it could also the other affect. I had the relationship portrait and I had to give it a title to tell you a story about those subjects. This is no easy task. I decided on the title "My Strength", for me that title meant so many things. 

I usually always try to go to the actual competition and watch my images. This is one of the biggest learning experiences you will ever witness if you are a photographer entering print competition. No matter how long you have been entering print competition, the butterflies and the knots in your stomach never go away! Literally sitting there, palms sweaty and heart about to beat out of my chest. The title is read "My Strength" and the images comes around. Silence. The jurors lean in and examine every little detail. As I sit there watching, I wonder if they can hear my heart beating? It landed in the high end of the Excellent category and was quickly challenged. At this time the challenger speaks to the image and why they are challenging it. In this case they believed the score should have been higher. Each juror gets to speak to the image, voice any concerns or point mention anything else. At this point I can't even really hear what they are saying my heart was beating so loud it was drowning out everything going on. Its time for them to rescore and again silence. I am sitting there with my hands clenched on my legs and holding my breath. The Jury Chairman announces ONE HUNDRED. I about fell over. This feeling can not be explained. Shocked and stunned. 

The coolest part about for me, is seeing how my portrait work has developed over the years from entering Print Competition. That a very simple portrait of a mother and daughter has all the 12 Elements. It doesn't have to be over done. 


North Central District the image "My Strength" did not disappoint. Much to my surprise it did quite well.

There were 709 images submitted in the North Central District. "My Strength" received first place in the portrait category. North Central District Awards

CPP (Certified Professional Photographer) Award goes to the highest scoring image 

PPA Charities Impact Award (12 Elements of a Merit Image with a great amount of importance being placed on the impact of the image. Impact can be achieved through the emotion of a portrait or wedding, the vast beauty of nature, or the intrigue of an artistic interpretation.)

ASP (American Society of Photographers) District Award The ASP District Medallion Award is presented to the ASP member in good standing with the highest scoring entry at their District Print Competition.

Also I needed one more Loan Image to receive my Imaging Excellence Award  The Imaging Excellence Bar was created to honor rare accomplishments in PPA competition. Such a rare accomplishment will be designated by the IE Bar for every 13 additional Loan Merits earned beyond the Imaging Excellence Award. Both the Award and the Bar have been exquisitely designed by PPA member Kaye Frey and will be distinguished by their black lacquer finish with a central stone and gold trim.

August wrapped up the International Photographic Competition. I just found out this image "My Strength" is in the top 10 finalists for the Grand Imaging Awards Protrait Category. There were 5,800 images judges at IPC. 

Our National convention Imaging USA will be held in Nashville 2018.It will be a very very busy convention for me as my husband and I are teaching a pre-con on print competition Kicking Booty with Print Competition, Speaking in the Merit Cafe, Mentoring in the Mentor Booth with IPC, receiving the above awards and walking the stage at the Grand Imaging Awards as a Platinum Medalist!

\Lexjet recently had me on as a guest blogger with "The Power of Print Competition"

So how does entering Print Competition help generate potential clients? Entering client work is one thing. They see that your every day work is scoring high and winning awards. It is setting my work apart from other photographers in my area that are not trying to "be more". Having the recognition and awards in the studio are huge conversation pieces with my clients. Just like we educate them on our products, we educate them on the difference between professional and amateur photographer. I know the importance of Print Competition for myself and how it can help others, that is why I created a forum for new competitors to learn the process quicker "Jumping Into Print Competition".


Clients to Competition : Come Full Circle in Germantown Hills Illinois

From my amazing client. 

I met Christie in 2014, she took Elaan's newborn photos!  I fell in love with her work while I was pregnant, a friend referred me to Christie....

I always admired her photos and wanted to work with her on one of her submissions!  So when she asked both Elaan and I to participate it was an honor!

As Christie very well knows I am always concerned about getting a great after hearing the news about her win I was ecstatic!

When I learned the name of the photo, "My Strength" I felt so many different emotions!

I thought about being in labor for 43 hours, Elaan never flinched.....Lol......"My Strength"

"My Strength" represents the bond between mother and can't describe this bond, words can't truly express the feelings you have about this little person growing inside your are in love with a person you never learn and grow with are inspired by them....your spirit are their strength and they are yours.......

This photo means the world to me!  It will be a moment captured of myself and Elaan that can never be forgotten!  I am forever grateful!

Clients to Competition : Come Full Circle in Germantown Hills Illinois

We are a boutique portrait studio in Central Illinois. Specializing in Newborn Photography, Children Photography, Family Photography and High School Senior Photography. If you would like to see more of my work visit our website Sonshine Portrait Design

Christie Newell M.Photog. Cr., CPP


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