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International Photographic Competition: Where Talent Meets Technique

The 2018 International Photographic Competition finished judging this past week where thousands of photographers from all over the world were competing for the chance to go to the World Photographic Cup next year in Norway. The World Photographic Cup is the culmination of several national print competitions throughout the world where a country's best and most creative photographers look to take home the cup.

This year International Print Competition ran from August 5–8, 2018 through Professional Photographer's of America with 5,077 images entered from 1,301 photographers. At the time you could have watched live judging of the competition and heard live critique of images as they were put in front of the judges. The IPC is always a fantastic opportunity to see and hear what a knowledgeable viewer can take away from an image and give yourself insight into your own images with a more rigorous and objective eye. One of the most profound and positive attributes of photographer’s that are successful at this level is that they have become more discerning in their images and more competent in their creation and storytelling.

Ben Shirk was a part of the 2018 Team USA World Photographic Cup and he has been excelling in International Photographic Competition for several years with impactful storytelling and artistic post production. For Shirk, competition has been a large part of his artistic journey as he creates images specifically for competition outside of his client work. Shirk's blend of photography and artistry helped earn Team USA a gold medal in this year’s competition, but it all starts in competing at International Photographic Competition the previous year.

Photographers that entered the competition have learned of their scores and may have merited or loaned depending on their cumulative average score. The Grand Imaging Awards, or the best of the best images from IPC will be given out at Imaging USA January 17–19 in Atlanta, Georgia. From there the World Photographic Cup finalists will be announced for the USA.

Did you enter this year's International Photographic Competition or are you planning on entering next year? 

JT Blenker's picture

JT Blenker, Cr. Photog., CPP is a Photographic Craftsman and Certified Professional Photographer who also teaches workshops throughout the USA focusing on landscape, nightscape, and portraiture. He is the Director of Communications at the Dallas PPA and is continuing his education currently in the pursuit of a Master Photographer degree.

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I've noticed that winning entries are getting farther away from actual photography and are creeping towards digital art, with post-processing so heavy that that's the first thing that jumps out at you. I'm hardly a purist, and I enjoy looking at great digital art, but I'd like for this trend to be reined in. Cropping and dodging and burning is OK, playing with clarity and saturation is too. Beyond that, not sure. If an image was made with many layers and extensive compositing, is it still a photo?

I'm with you on this point. The International Digital Art Awards would be more apt and the above image is a very good example.

There are a ton of high profile awards out there that are dominated by photojournalism that don't allow heavy photoshop work. (Because apparently, in many circles a great photojournalism image trumps all other types of photography) It makes me fine with a few that allow photographers to do whatever. Though, maybe a change of title is needed as g coll mentioned.

I personally wouldn't consider this a photograph. Were photos used in making this, yes. but i fell more of what makes the image great was done behind a computer, not a camera. just my opinion.

the whole image could also be digitally painted out but he rather light and shoot to achieve what his end result. so it may not be one photo but it's still photography to me

Photo-illustration was what I majored in however it is not how I made my most of my living. Photo-illustration involved set construction, make-up and host of other skills to create an image on a piece of film. Now I set down on key board and create what is in my head with next to no budget. I can still make a print on digital printer instead of shooting for a printing press. I think the definition of photograph was wrong from the start it far to narrow for what creative people have been producing.

The image above isn't a photograph, it's a photo-illustration.

Thanks guys for your comments. Actually there are a few different categories for World Photographic Cup. This image was entered into the Illustrative Category. There are a huge variety of photographic competitions and some value the in camera processing over post processing but it doesn't change the fact that the maker is using their skills to create an image. Even greats like Ansel Adams agreed that you don't just take a photograph - you make it. And he applied every technique available to make his images great. Unfortunately there are no real world guidelines to where photography ends and art begins but either way you fall, I'm just glad to be creating.