Competition is Good

by Zoraya B. Stern  |  Oct 21, 2019  |  Musings

Competition is good.  These past two months have been a great big push leading up to last night, the Woodlands Photography Club Annual Contest.  And this year we had a wonderful set of doors open to our club at the Glade Cultural Center in The Woodlands.  A beautiful venue to share and exhibit all kinds of art.  And last night and the rest of this week the exhibit  is all about photography.

Photography is an art. And good art should be viewed in a gallery or museum. But, these days we are all "photographers", because if you own a smartphone, you can take amazing pictures. And that's great that we all have that convenience daily at the tip of our fingers.  But, the art of photography is much more than just snapping a button and adding a cool filter to any picture.  And art is meant to be seen on a wall in a gallery, not on a small phone screen.

So, what makes photography art?  We all view the world different through our own eyes.  A camera provides a way for an artist to capture how they saw a specific scene differently than everyone else, interpreted in the way they visually and emotionally experienced it in that moment.  And then through print, share that vision in this form of art called photography with the rest of the world.

This past summer I entered four images into the International Photographic Competition with PPA (Professional Photographers of America). Believe me, it took a lot of courage to make those submissions and then listen to the judges critique my photographs live for EVERYONE to hear! But, in the end, what an amazing experience. Preparing an image for competition makes you think about your images on a whole other level!

So, what does it take to make a great image? PPA adheres to looking for 12 specific elements and they require an image to have all 12 in order to receive a merit. The 12 elements that they outline is Impact, Technical Excellence, Creativity, Style, Composition, Presentation, Color Balance, Center of Interest, Lighting, Subject Matter, Technique, and Story Telling. So, while competition can be nerve wracking, it is good. It pushes us as artists into molding these elements in our own and unique way to produce an excellent work of art.

I’m honored that one of my images did receive a Merit at the PPA International Competition this past summer and 5 of my images just received awards at our local Woodlands Photography Annual Contest. These images along many, many other images from many talented local artists are currently on display at the Glade Center in the Woodlands through October 28, 2019. I hope you will take some time this week to stop by and see these beautiful prints!

2019 Award Winning Photos

TWPC Fall Photography Contest 2019

Category: Black & White

Theme: Abstract

Honorable Mention: “Velvet Romance”

I was inspired by a recent speaker we had present at our club meeting on macro photography to invest in some extension tubes for my lenses and explore this technique of really close up.  One afternoon, I went to the store, bought some flowers and came home to explore this whole new world of macro photography.  The petals of a rose have such a velvety smoothness and their curves evoke such romance.  They were perfect for this abstract category!

Velvet Romance


Category: People

Theme: Friendship

3rd Place: “Rival & Best”

I have been to my share of swim meets for over a decade now.  I love seeing the kids compete for the fastest times with each other while always maintaining the comradery with their team mates in relays against the other teams.  And, then no matter how competitive they may be, they are always there to pick one another up after a bad swim.  These two little girls had just finished a race against each other, but I don't even remember who won!  What I do remember is seeing them walk away arm in arm, no matter their times.

Rival & Best


Category: Nature

Theme: Seasons

3rd Place: “Unexpected Forecast”

This image was taken in the Dominican Republic this past summer while on a mission trip with my teenage daughter.  At the end of the week, we got a day of rest and relaxation and time for reflection at the beach.  On a brief walk along the shore (brief because a storm rolled in rather quickly) we came across all these oars sticking up out of the sand and a small lonely boat anchored a few yards away.  It was a hot summer day, but the skies were quickly turning into that unexpected forecast with the winds picking up and unsettling the waves arriving at shore.  It left me wondering whose plans had been altered and where would they have gone otherwise.

Unexpected Forecast


Category: Black & White

Theme: Abstract

1st Place: “Faceted Connections"

With architecture as my background, I'm always drawn to interesting structures.  The Helix Bridge in Singapore is definitely one of my most favorite interesting structures.  It is amazing when viewed as  a whole, but even more fascinating when you zoom in close to see the many intricate connections that occur throughout....a dialogue between steel and glass.

Faceted Connections


Category: Technique

Theme: Low Key

1st Place: “Deep Vibes”

Low Key photography is a genre that consists of an overall dark and "moody" image that emphasizes only specific areas with light.  Typically these are dark, mysterious and very emotive images.  Because I have a house full of musicians, we have a lot of musical instruments.  And what can be more emotionally provacative than music?  Well, perhaps a photograph of a musical instrument.....leaving the viewer straining their ear to listen for those beautiful and resonant deep tones of the contrabass.

Deep Vibes


PPA International Photographic Competition

PPA International Photographic Competition

Category: Photographic

Theme: Open

MERIT: “Competition Focused”

This image was taken a couple of years ago when I was just starting to put my in-home studio together.  I saw this technique of creating reflections in water droplets and just knew that with 4 swimmers in my family, I had to create an image that "reflected" their competitiveness in the sport.  See, competition is good in anything we do because it propels us to really look inward and seek the courage to give it all we got and put it out there for others to see!

Competition Focused

Competition Focused

See, competition is good!  It is good in anything we set out to do because it propels us to really look inward and seek the courage to give it all we got and put it out there for others to see!

Thank you for visiting and please comment to share your own experiences if something speaks to you!

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