Dennis Hammon, a PPA affiliate juror, is no stranger to the Sunset Print Awards. He and his wife, fellow photographer Cheri Hammon, have six awards between them. The beloved Sunset Print Awards have been limited over the last few years, as many shows have been virtual, but for Hammon it’s about telling the story from capture to print.
“The print is the completion of the vision of the image. We feel that’s important and why l love submitting prints,” he says. “We’re glad LexJet could do the award in 2021, even though it was virtual. I wish it were print.”
Last April, Hammon submitted a sobering black and white portrait for the 2021 PPI (Professional Photographers of Idaho) Convention. One of the essential elements of photography is “Impact,” and Hammon’s capture packs plenty of punch.
“I was teaching a workshop at the Winona School of Photography in Indiana a few years ago, and I was looking for an older gentleman or a biker persona,” he says. “I saw this guy, a Vietnam vet, wearing a POW hat. He didn’t go into a lot of stuff. He was reticent about his history, and we just talked briefly.”
After listening to his quiet reflection, Hammon knew he needed something special for the portrait. “He alluded to some sad times in his life, and that’s why I changed the lighting, to show a different kind of lighting. It’s not pretty lighting; it’s very dramatic lighting. And then I came up with the title for it: The Dreams That Haunt Me.”
His capture of a haunting moment did not go unnoticed. Hammon scored many accolades, including 100 at PP of Idaho, Best of Master Portrait – PP of Idaho, Top 10 Portraits in PPA Western District, and PP merit image. “During the judging in Idaho, three of the judges couldn’t do the rebuttals or talk because after they saw the image, heard the title, and heard other people talking about it, they were emotional and couldn’t even talk to give a rebuttal,” he says. “It’s a very emotional piece for people.”
Hammon knew right away what to do for the presentation, and although recent submissions have been virtual, he knows printing “The Dreams That Haunt Me” on Sunset Fibre Elite would have only intensified his score. “I knew it had to be black and white as soon as I saw it,” he says. “If I had printed that image on Fibre Elite, it would have sailed out of the system, I promise you.”
The Sunset Print Awards are a favorite in the Hammon household. “It’s always an honor to win that award. It’s my favorite of all. I’ve won Photographer of the Year several years in a row and – don’t take this the wrong way – but I’d rather get the LexJet than that,” he says. “It’s important to me because I know it’s a high-scoring image, but I’m also supporting a brand, which is supporting us. And I think that’s important.”
You can learn more about Dennis Hammon and his award-winning photography HERE.