The 12 Elements Podcast

Interviews with professional photographers about print competition.

In A Nutshell

In A Nutshell

Well, PPA just finalized the 2015 International Print Competition last week. If you’re like me and you watched any of the streaming of the print judging, you are most likely aware of the incredible images entered this year. I hope you felt confident enough in your images this year to enter, and if you did, I hope you did well. If not, I suggest thinking about images for next year and maybe get inspiration from the guests on the show.


I Think I Hear Him

I Think I Hear Him

Today I’m talking with Certified Professional Photographer and national speaker Bree Barber Adams of Bebe Charm Photography in Mansfield, TX. Bree just completed her PPA Masters degrees at the 2015 International Print Competition. I only recently became familiar with Bree’s work. I have to say, she does great competition and client images. In April, one of her images graced the cover of Professional Photographer magazine.

In the episode Bree talks about the images she entered at the 2015 PPA International Print Competition and how taking a risk gained helped her achieve her PPA Master Photographer Degree.

Make sure you check out Bree’s work on her website. Since several of the images that we talk about were selected for the PPA Loan Collection and the final awards have not be made, but I can share these. The other the images can’t be shared yet, but come back to this page for a link to those images.

A couple different people have asked for an episode on print competition 101. I thought I would present my perspective and what I’ve learned participating and and from different competition college sessions. I hope my experiences help you feel more confident with your images and point out some pitfalls I’ve fallen into, so you don’t repeat my mistakes. I thought you’d enjoy some information on the following areas.

  • Overview of the competition process
  • Score-only prints
  • Image challenges
  • The importance of impact
  • Different competition stages
  • Common competition terms
  • Advice I’ve gotten from judges
  • Some of my foibles and successes
  • Image feedback

If you enjoy this episodes I’d love to get your comments and feedback. As promised, I’ve also included some of the information and links I mentioned in the episode.

This week I do an interview with Adam Hunter of Cedar Rapids, IA. I’ve seen Adam’s work for years, and he has some great illustrative images I wanted to talk to him about. Adam also works as an instructor for Hawkeye Institute of Technology, which has an incredible professional photography program. Make sure you check out the notes page for a link to Adam’s images. You should go to his site to check out all his work. It’s great stuff.

This podcast may sound a little different this week. I usually do my interviews on the phone because I’m talking to photographers from all over. This week, I talk to Adam Hunter, who lives in the same city I do. This fact gave me the opportunity to do a face-to-face interview. I’m not sure about Adam, but I think it went great. It had its technical challenges so that you might have a little background noise near the end of the interview. I tried to remove it, but I wasn’t  100% successful.

During the interview Adam mentions a couple different things. I thought it would help if I chased them down for you.

John Alton: Adam mentioned Alton in his description of Tribute to Film Noir.

Light Pillar: The beam of light he talked about “Off Until Tomorrow” I think is called a Light Pillar.

This episode features an interview with Kim Stephenson of PawPrint Pixs from the Chicago area. As you can probably guess, Kim specializes in pet photography. If you’ve watched a PPA Print Competition before, you surely noticed lots of images with animals. Kim seems to have an eye for photographing our furry friends. Unlike the previous guests, Kim Stephenson has just started entering images at the national level. Make sure you check out Kim’s images so you can see what we are talking about.

I’m in a similar boat. While I had entered images into my state competitions for years, last year was the first time I had images at the district and International Print Competition (IPC). A lot of that comes from master photographers and judges encouraging me to make changes to my images and getting them submitted.

If you plan on entering your first competition, I encourage you to talk to the judges to find out how you can improve your images. I find that many are more than happy to help out.

Bob Coates mentioned in the last episode that his competition images have helped him improve his client work. I believe that competition has helped me and my clients, too. So, if you’re nervous about entering, I say, “Don’t worry too much, but just get in there and try.” You’ll probably hear Kim and I talk about that in this interview, too.



This episode features an interview with Bob Coates. Bob is a professional photographer, author, speaker, and affiliate judge. He lives and works in Sedona, AZ. He’s written several books and trade articles, and Panasonic sponsors him as one of its US Lumix Luminary speakers. We talk about his 2014 images from both his Photographic Open and Master Artist cases.

You can see the images Bob and I talk about on his website, so please go check out those out. I think you’ll agree they are great. For his image, “Thistle,” we discuss Helicon Focus from Helicon Software. It seems like a really interesting piece of software.

If you have questions or ideas for this or future episodes, please leave them in the comments section below. I really want to hear from you.

Episode three features an interview with Ben Shirk. All of Ben’s 2014 Open Photographic images merited and were accepted into the PPA Loan collection. He also participated in the 2015 World Photographic World Cup which awarded First Place to his portrait and wedding submissions.

Ben lives and works in Wilton, IA, and his images rock the competition world. In my interview with Ben Shirk, we get to talk about those images. You can check out all of his 2014 entries at his blog. You can also check out more of his work and his product page on his website.

Turf War

The Last Menagerie

To Fetch a Pail of Water

Twisted Dreams

Make sure you check out his site and blog.

This podcast interview features Wendy Veugeler. She is a brilliant speaker and incredible artist. She owns and operates Cellar Portrait Studio in Crystal Lake, IL. Her competition images remind me of the Renaissance, master painters, by cohesively combining her subjects and outfits with the scene.

In this podcast, Wendy and I discuss two of her 2014 Loan images: Femme Fatale and Timeless. If you’d like to see those images, you can visit her gallery. While you’re there, check out her other great images, too.

Wendy also has a clothing line for stylizing your shoots. You can check out the associated gallery here or visit the shendyshop Facebook page.

Note: Links open in new windows.

This episode features a Larry Lourcey interview in the premiere episode for the podcast. I saw Larry speak a couple years ago at our state convention. One of the things he covered was the 12 Elements of the Non-Merit image. It is pretty insightful stuff and I thought you’d love to hear it, too.

Larry hails from Dallas, TX, is a member of the IPC committee, and his work has appeared on the cover of Professional Photographer magazine and he completed a gallery art show this past year. Check out Larry’s website to see more of his amazing work.

As you’ll here on the podcast, Larry generously shared a coupon code for his Print Competition 101 DVD. Use the coupon code HELP25 to save 25% off the regular price. This is a limited time, so you need to order early to benefit from the code.