By Christie Newell, winner of the 2016 National Sunset Print Award and co-owner of Sonshine Portrait Design in Germantown Hills, Ill.
The ever-evolving photography industry vastly changes on a day-to-day basis. How do we stay ahead? How do we rise above the other photographers around us? What makes us grow? The answer to these questions and so many other questions is print competition.
I have been asked why I enter print competition. It can be misleading and make one think you are competing against other photographers. That is not the case. Yes, I am a photographer who creates art pieces for my clients, but I am also a print competitor, it just runs through my blood. I enter print competitions because I know how much I learn and grow. Improving my everyday work for my clients. By setting goals, reaching beyond what I think I am capable of and either failing or conquering.
If we don’t set goals for ourselves … how do we grow? Have you reached a point of knowing everything and being the best you can be? I hope I never think I am too good or don’t have any more room to grow. When we fail at something, that is when we actually grow the most! Learn from the mistakes that were made along the way, adjust and grow. These make the moments of conquering something so much more sweet.
I believe, naturally as humans we grow in everything we do after doing time after time. I also believe 100% that print competition has pushed me harder than anything I have done in my life. Pushing me mentally and emotionally. Improving my client work beyond what I could have imagined. It is a process that you have to learn, then you learn to love it. The 12 elements that make a merit image you don’t just learn overnight. It takes years of entering. Eventually I started seeing the 12 elements when I clicked the shutter. I was no longer trying to turn client work into print competition images … I was shooting my client work like competition images. Every single year I learn something. Do you think this keeps me ahead of the game? Absolutely!
Take a little look below. I am a little embarrassed to show this, but it is amazing to me the difference.
The color relationship portrait of the sisters was photographed and entered into one of my first print competitions in 2004. Soft, green skin tones, no detail in the shadows, bad lighting, no kicker light, no presentation, horrible composition, and I could keep going. You don’t know everything when you jump into print competition with both feet. Thirteen years later entering state level, district level and international level every year. The black-and-white mother-daughter relationship portrait: All 12 elements are there. It scored 100 at the district level and will be featured in the PPA Loan Collection Book. See a difference?
I will be doing a small blog series on print competition and my journey. I believe so much in it and how it has made me the photographer I am today. One of my long-term goals that I have set is to be a role model and mentor for the artists out there striving to become better. I have many photographers in my life whom I have met along my journey and to whom I owe so much to. There is not a more humbling feeling than when someone you have helped or taught succeeds and conquers one of their goals.
Christie Newell M.Photog., Cr. CPP is a second generation photographer operating out of Germantown Hills, Ill. Christie’s passion for photography started at an early age working with her mother who established the studio in 1977. Now a co-owner with her mother, Christie took over the shooting in 2002. Christie holds the Professional of Photographers of America, “Master of Photography” degree, “Craftsmen” degree and is a Certified Professional Photographer. She is a member of Professional Photographers of America, Northern Illinois Professional Photographers and Professional Photographers of Illinois. She serves on the American Society of Photographers Board of Directors and The International Photographic Competition Committee.
Since 2006, Christie has won numerous awards for her photography on a local, state, district and international level. These awards include the prestigious Fuji Masterpiece Award, 5 Kodak Gallery awards, 2 LexJet, 1st place National Sunset Print Awards, 2 CPP, 2 District 1st Place and others. Her work has been featured and published in the PPA International Loan Collection. She has also been named in the top 10 photographers for Illinois the past six years. Named top photographer in Illinois and North Central District over the past couple years. Follow her Print Competition blog series here.