When New Orleans photographer Yvette Ponthier first learned about print competitions, she was initially turned off by what seemed to be subjective judging and nitpicking. “I saw these beautiful images just being picked apart,” she says. “So I said, nope, not doing that. That was the biggest mistake I ever made.”
Four years ago, she changed her mind and began competing with images like “And They Left Their Boats in Search of Him,” at left, which won the Sunset Print Award at the 2015 Southern Pro Exposure Competition sponsored by Professional Photographers of Louisiana.
“Print competitions totally make you more creative in every aspect,” Ponthier says. “I should have stuck with competition because being an active participant has taken my photography skills to levels I never thought possible.”
Ponthier snapped the image in Italy of the two boats on shore with the church in the background. “I’m very spiritual, and the name of the print indicates that they’re in church in prayer,” she says. “It’s one of my personal favorites.”
To create the watercolor effect of the image, she used a variety of layers and blending modes along with watercolor brushes in Photoshop. Then, she had it printed on fine art paper, which she then gave a deckled edge by tearing the paper.
“The fine art paper sets this image apart,” she says. “You don’t get that in a digital format at all. I could never have won this award if I had had excellent paper to print it on.”
In her day-to-day studio life, Ponthier and her husband, Wade, specialize in corporate event and portrait photography, which they’ve been doing since 1983. She was so happy with the winning watercolor effect that Ponthier has started using it for client work, too, such as with these high school seniors and their class rings.
“You really have to think outside of the box,” Ponthier says of professional photographers now. “You have to provide something that no one else is doing.”