Prints That Win: Kidnapped by Tuscan Fog

The sleepy, rolling landscape featured in this Sunset Print Award-Winning photograph was beautifully captured by Wyoming-based photographer Ty Thompson just outside Tuscany, Italy. While on vacation for their 16th wedding anniversary, Thompson and his wife decided to venture out to this remote location for photographs.

“We got up really early to go out and shoot a sunrise,” says Thompson. “We got out of the van, looked around, and realized we were completely stocked in with fog.” Thompson was originally disappointed with the photos, thinking the fog had kept him from capturing a good shot. However, in poetic irony, this exact element is what makes the image so captivating.

Prints That Win: Elsa

Nebraska-based photographer Keith Howe was scrolling through Facebook one night when he came across a client’s post about the bullying her 11-year-old daughter was facing at school. “Some of the other kids in her class were giving her a hard time, and she came home wanting plastic surgery,” says Howe. “And we said, ‘why don’t we have her come in as a model.’ So, we took her out to a lake and took photos of her, and I presented it to her as a modeling portfolio … she just needed a self-esteem boost.”

One of the photos from this series resurfaced when Howe was getting ready for his next competition. The beautiful, Sunset Print Award-winning portrait of the girl was named Elsa, reminiscent of the strong female character from Disney’s Frozen.

Sunset Print Awards Are Heating Up Around the Country

We’ve received more than 20 Sunset Print Award event registrations so far this year. Is your local or regional group involved? You can check out the ever-growing list of 2016 Sunset Print Award events on the Sunset website. Be sure to check back often, as the list is constantly updated with new events.

In February alone, we have award opportunities at these seven events:

  • Feb 3-9: PhotoPro Expo in Covington, KY
  • Feb 11-14: PP of Ohio Imaging Compeition in Lewis Center, OH
  • Feb 18-19: Southeast District Photographic Competition in Williamsburg, VA
  • Feb 19-23: Professional Photographers of South Carolina in Charleston, SC
  • Feb 25-March 1: Professional Photographers of Michigan in Detroit, MI
  • Feb 26-28: Northeast District Photographic Competition in Detroit, MI
  • Feb 26-March 1: Professional Photographers of Iowa in Des Moines, IA

Remember: Local/regional Sunset Print Award winners receive a trophy and a gift certificate for LexJet Sunset media. Plus, the local/regional winners will be able to compete in the National Sunset Print Award later this year.

Check the Sunset website for information about the individual events, submission rules, deadlines and more.

Prints that Win: Waiting for You

Waiting for You

Each portrait Kristi Elias creates is a unique work of art that is relevant and appropriate to its subject. Last year, Elias won a Sunset Print Award at the Professional Photographers of California state competition for You Won’t Bully Me, a grungy portrait of a young martial arts competitor.

Elias followed up this year, taking home another Sunset Print Award at the California competition for a decidedly different subject, entitled Waiting for You. This portrait purposely evokes Renaissance art.

“I wanted a painterly feel with a lot of detail in the props, like the bottle. There’s note in the bottle, and you can see the contours and the detail. There was a lot of time put into those details of the portrait. You can see even the music on the floor, and all the shading and detail in it. I did it just like it would have been as a Renaissance painting, and how they paid so much attention to detail on all the props,” explains Elias.

The portrait of her client, who also poses for Elias to spark modeling ideas, was captured in the studio. Elias purchased a custom dress from Bulgaria for an authentic touch.

Elias added a new background, a photo she took of a Gothic cathedral in Tuscany. She used Photoshop, Nik Software and Alien Skin to edit the image.

“When I edit I don’t use the same actions every time. I look at each portrait as its own piece of art. Some of it is my own custom actions, and some of it is edited with Nik Software to bring out the detail in the shadows. I like to put a lot of detail in the shadow for that hopeless romantic look. I took any painterly effect off of her skin so there’s no texture on the skin, because that doesn’t go well with judging,” says Elias.

Master printer Jonathan Penney, Center Moriches, N.Y., printed the image on a fibre-based paper to complete the beautiful, Renaissance-style portrait.

Prints that Win: Chaotic Profiling

Sunset Print Award“I like surrealism,” says Elaine Hughes. That much is evident in Hughes’ Sunset Print Award-winning piece entitled Chaotic Profiling. Hughes also won a Sunset Print Award in 2013 for the surreal and aptly titled Dream World.

Chosen by judges at the recent PhotoPro Expo 2015 Print Competition in Covington, Ky., Chaotic Profiling was hard to overlook, and look again to catch all the subtleties in the dreamlike world Hughes created.

“There are many ways to interpret life. In this image we see the profile of the main subject intertwined with a secondary version of itself. This way of looking at things can create chaotic thoughts. The concept of my image is the end result,” says Hughes.

Note the child enjoying his time by the ear of the main figure. “Maybe he lives here in this strange, chaotic and magical place,” adds Hughes.

Hughes’ surreal dreamscapes take months to create as she gathers photos she takes on her travels with her husband and former Sunset Print Award winner Robert Hughes and combines them into one cohesive (or chaotic, as the case may be) image.

“I take photographs everywhere I go. It could be something in the hotel room, outside the door, or anything I find interesting that I might be able to use. I also study a lot of animated films and art for inspiration,” she says.

All the photographs are combined in Photoshop and blended in multiple layers. With hue and saturation Hughes finds just the right color scheme to convey her concept. For this one, the plays on blue seemed just right to her.

Print to Win a Sunset Print Award at Photo Competitions across the U.S.

Sunset Print Award
Trophies for the 2014 National Sunset Print Award winners. For a shot at the Grand Prize you’ll need to enter one of the 2015 competitions presenting a Sunset Print Award.

With the Southwest PPA 2015 District Competition underway right now in San Marcos, Texas, this seemed a good time to remind all photographers and print makers about the 2015 Sunset Print Award.

The next competition where you could win a Sunset Print Award is the PhotoPro Expo 2015 Print Competition in Covington, Ky., Jan. 21 (print submissions for the competition are due on Jan. 19).

Every winner at one of the local, state and regional competitions where the Sunset Print Award is being presented picks up a beautiful crystal trophy, a lapel pin and a $250 gift certificate for Sunset inkjet media. Plus, all winners are automatically eligible to compete in the year-end National Sunset Print Award (the National prizes will be announced soon).

Other print competitions currently scheduled include:

  • Connecticut Professional Photographers Association, Feb. 6
  • Photo North East 2015 Image Competition, Feb. 8
  • Mad City Photo Jam, Wisconsin Professional Photographers, Feb. 19
  • Virginia Professional Photographers Association Print Competition, Feb. 20
  • PPA of Massachusetts 2015 Image Competition, Feb. 27
  • PPA Northeast District Competition, March 13
  • Vermont Professional Photographers Annual Print Competition, March 13
  • PP of Idaho Print Competition, March 14
  • PPA Northcentral District, March 20
  • PPA Western District Competition, March 26
  • PP of California Image Competition, March 26
  • PPA of PA Annual Photographic Competition & Print Exhibition, April 12
  • PPA Southeast District Competition, April 30
  • Southern Pro Xposure PP of Louisiana Print Competition, July 26

For all the details – including print submission deadlines, competition rules, and event info – go to now to make sure you’re ready to roll, enter, and potentially win. Entries do not need to be printed on Sunset media to qualify, but must be inkjet-printed.

Good luck, get involved and get recognized! Check with each competition to verify submission deadlines, judging dates, submission/entry rules and more.

And be sure to visit for more information about the Sunset Print Award, a full list of upcoming competitions, the Sunset product line, and more. If you have any questions, ask for a LexJet digital photography specialist at 800-453-9538.