In a print competition, the print itself should have some say in who wins the top award. At the Professional Photographers of Idaho competition, The Economic Recovery, created by Nick Jones, made it to the finish line for the coveted Sunset Print Award, but it was the print that took it over the top.
Jones, who co-owns Harmony and Nick Portrait Artists in Blackfoot, Idaho with his wife, Harmony (of course!), had his winning image, The Economic Recovery, printed on Sunset Photo Metallic Paper to help bring out the detail and give it an almost three-dimensional quality.
“When it came time for the Sunset Print Award there were a couple of rounds of judging and it kept getting split between mine and another print. The clincher was when one of the judges said that if any image is going to push the print and the printer it would be mine, and that put it over the edge,” says Jones. “We do a lot of printing on the Metallic; most of our client work is printed on it because it gives it that pop. I think it’s awesome. When it’s under the light it gives a new dimension to it; it’s almost 3D.”
Jones put a lot of himself into the image. In fact, Jones is actually in the image, standing next to the burning barrel on the far right side of the final composite. The main subject is his father, and you can see in the six panels below the main image all the pieces and parts Jones brought into a cohesive award-winning whole.
“I was planning on doing a different image with my father, because he has interesting features. It was a quick setup in house. I put it together with a background I like that has warm and cool tones. Then, I put it on Facebook and it got a lot of attention just as it was,” recalls Jones. “I looked for some additional elements to put in there to provide more storytelling. It grew from there. It built itself in a way. It was over several months that I added elements and tried some different ideas.”
Jones used Photoshop to create the composite from the six original images, painstakingly “hand-painting” the divergent images to create an accurate blend; a blend that makes the final image look like it was shot as-is, rather than composited. To bring out additional contrast and saturation, Jones applied nik Software filters.
“We do a lot of composite imaging with our sports teams and portraits. I first came into the studio doing Harmony’s retouching work. Along the way I starting seeing cool artwork, by Mark Bryant and others who are masters at composite work, and it intrigued me. So we started taking their courses and now use it in a lot of our photography, such as the pinup work we do in the summer,” explains Jones.
In addition to a Sunset Print Award, The Economic Recovery also won Photographer’s Choice at the Idaho print competition and went loan at the International Photographic Competition (IPC).