Celebrating 10 Years of Sunset Print Awards

For the last decade, the Sunset Print Awards have been bestowed upon more than 110 photographers, all of whom received cash prizes and the coveted crystal trophy. For the 2018 competition, we’ve decided to give more photographers the opportunity to vie for the top spot. The five Professional Photographers of America districts will offer a Sunset Print Award in eight categories, in which winners will need to showcase the fundamental “elements of excellence.”

There are several opportunities over the next few weeks to earn awards at the following events:

  • Feb. 8-10: Photo Pro EXPO – Kentucky PPA
  • Feb. 9-11: PhotoMax – PP of Michigan
  • Feb. 9-12: Professional Photographers of Iowa Winter Convention 2018
  • Feb. 22-23: Western District Photographic Competition
  • Mar. 8-9: Northeast District Photographic Competition

To see a full list of scheduled events throughout the year, check out the up-coming awards schedule on the Sunset website.

The regional 2018 Sunset Print Awards will be available to colleges, camera clubs, etc., as well as professional organizations, like PPA and WPPI. All the regional winners will be in contention for one of the top three spots in the National Sunset Print Competition held at PPA – International Photographic Competition (IPC).

Visit the Sunset website for additional information on individual events, submission rules, competition application and more.

Prints That Win: Pastel Passage

When you’ve been competing in print competitions as long as Idaho photographer, Dennis Hammon, capturing beautiful landscapes comes as natural as the photo’s subject itself.

While teaching a photography workshop aboard the Celebrity Silhouette cruise ship, Hammon was admiring the view during the ship’s departure when he noticed a sailboat along the horizon. Using his keen eye and his Canon 5D, he snapped a couple of pictures of the scene, and a winner was born.

The Sunset Print Award winning photograph, “Pastel Passage,” displays placid waters complete with breathtaking hues of pink and purple pastels that were bestowed by the sunset.

Prints That Win: Angels Bending Near the Earth

Idaho Falls-based photographer, Cheri Hammon, had an unusual start in photography. After abandoning a career as a hairdresser due to allergies, she happened upon a job in a local photography studio.

“They put me in sales and I was terrible,” she says, laughing. “So the photographer who owns the studio asked me if I was interested in retouching.” From that moment on, she had found her passion.

Her Sunset Print Award-winning image, “Angels Bending Near the Earth,” also had a unique inception. “Normally, I get a feeling when I start a project and it sits in my head for a while and kind of cooks,” Hammon says. “But this is the only one I’ve ever done that just hit me all of a sudden.”

Prints That Win: The Next Step

When Vanessa Longuski took her Sunset Print Award-winning photo, “The Next Step,” she was in the middle of a wedding photo shoot in Lansing, Mich., on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building.

To get the dramatic shot, she simply got lucky during a time crunch on the couple’s wedding day. The videographer was filming the bride and groom, and the image was one of only two photos without him in it.

Longuski began her photography career as an unofficial yearbook photographer at Bad Axe High School in Michigan. She went on to study arts photography at Central Michigan University, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to make a living with tradition darkroom experience, so she switched to digital. She started her own business two months before graduation and bought a studio less than a year later.

Since opening the studio in 2008, she has photographed 300 weddings and is currently working toward her PPA master’s degree. Longuski offers portrait and commercial work in addition to wedding photography, and says her passion for her work is fueled by making “people happy by doing something for them … it’s what I love to do every day.” Capturing natural poses and facial expressions is the key to helping her subjects feel and look at ease.

She’s inspired by her customers because “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, I love working with them,” she says.

Print competitions, like the Sunset Print Award in the PPA North East District, keeps the learning process alive for her. “Winning is a great feeling … to know I accomplished something,” she says.

Prints that Win: A Calculating Commander

Armonk, New York photographer June Greenspan has spent her professional career trying to capture people and their passions. Fascinated by diverse occupations and interests, Greenspan spends her time photographing the unique individuals she encounters. “Most of my work is from my travels, and the people I see when I travel,” she says. “I am a people photographer.”

When visiting Gettysburg with her husband, she spotted a reenactor dressed as a confederate soldier. In that moment, she wondered why the man was there and knew she had to photograph him. “I became like a director,” Greenspan explains, giving him directions on how to pose.  The result of this encounter: a Sunset Print Award in the Master Artist category at the North-East District PPA print competition for her piece, “A Calculating Commander.”

Prints That Win: Blowing Out of a Creative Funk

A small junk store in Rio, Nevada was the last place Kelly Zimmerman expected to capture her Sunset Print Award-winning image, “Blowing Out of a Creative Funk.” However, she was instantly captivated by the old fans sitting in the store window.

“[The store] had this little display set up, and I loved the concept of all of these fans. I don’t know why, it just drew me in,” Zimmerman says. “The image alone wasn’t much to speak of, but I was just inspired by the fans with the crumpled papers.”