Sunset Print Award Grand Prize Winner: Permanent Bond

Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins

The judging panel for the first annual National Sunset Print Award described the First Place Grand Prize winner – Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins – as “flawless,” “masterful” and “fully resolved.” The image depicts the bond her twin sons have had since before they were born.

In fact, there was little debate about the print, other than how perfect each element of the image – from composition to lighting – was absolutely spot-on.

Permanent Bond was one of 29 prints judged at LexJet headquarters in Sarasota, Fla., on Thursday, Nov. 13. All of the entries in the National Sunset Print Award competition won a Sunset Print Award at state and regional competitions across the U.S. in 2014.

Permanent Bond won the Sunset Print Award at the Professional Photographers of South Carolina (PPSC) competition, and was thus automatically eligible for the national competition.

Sunset Print Award
One of Tammy Bevin’s twins prepares to get into the water tank for the Sunset Print Award-winner, Permanent Bond.

“It took four minutes to photograph something, but it took me four years to come up with the idea,” says Bevins. “For several years I’ve been trying to come up with a concept to show the bond my twins have with each other and what it means to be a twin. It’s one of the most amazing experiences to have twins that look so much alike and have been best friends. Over the years I didn’t come up with something I was inspired to do until I came up with Permanent Bond. I wanted to position them like they were in the womb together, and I used rope to signify the umbilical cord.”

The shoot actually took more than four minutes as Bevins built a water tank in the back yard filled with a few inches of water and dry ice to create the fog effect. What you see is basically what Bevins captured; there was very little Photoshop work done to the image.

Bevins captured the image with a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-70mm lens at 1/200, f/4.6, and 160 ISO. Master printer Jonathan Penney, Center Moriches, N.Y., printed the image on fine art paper.

Sunset Print Awards
The judges at the first annual National Sunset Print Awards evaluate Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins. Photo by Billy Elkins.

“I used available light and a 2×3 soft box. I had the soft box on pretty low and wanted the light skimming across them and coming up from the top a bit,” explains Bevins.

Bevins runs Nuvo Images in Charleston, S.C., with her daughter and son-in-law, both of whom are award-winning photographers as well. Bevins has nine children – six girls and three boys – ranging in age from 13 to 29. The twins are the third and fourth out of the nine.

“I grew up in West Virginia, and everyone in my family were coal miners. I moved to South Carolina after I got married and was in the medical field. We started having children and I stayed home with the kids, which gave me some time to explore my creative side,” says Bevins. “About 13 years ago I started taking art classes in oil painting at the local museum and I absolutely loved it. My husband suggested I take photography classes, and it really exploded for me and fit my lifestyle. My first year in business was 2004 and I immediately joined PPA and PPSC, and shortly thereafter got interested in print competitions.”

The National Sunset Print Award judging panel - from left to right,  Carmen Schettino, Julie Hughes, Jessica Vogel, Tom Carabasi and Rich Newell - with their choice for First Place, Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins. Congratulations, Tammy!
The National Sunset Print Award judging panel – from left to right, Carmen Schettino, Julie Hughes, Jessica Vogel, Tom Carabasi and Rich Newell – with their choice for First Place, Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins. Congratulations, Tammy!

Bevins’ accomplishment at the National Sunset Print Awards is made all the more remarkable by the quality and variety of the images entered in the competition, from fine art photography to portraits and landscapes.

Julia Kelleher of Jewel Images in Bend, Ore., won second place for He Has Arrived. Click here to read the story behind Kelleher’s award-winning print that scored a 100 at the PPA Western District print competition.

Pete Wright won third for his retro image, Temptress, which won a Sunset Print Award at the PPA Southeast District competition. Click here to read the story behind this stunning image.

Congratulations to all the 2014 Sunset Print Award winners who made it to the National competition! Go to to see all the winners from 2014 and earlier years, and the stories behind the photography. While you’re there, look around to find out more about the 2015 competition and which competitions you can enter for a shot at a Sunset Print Award.

And, special thanks to our judges this year, who not only did a thorough and fair job, but gave everyone at LexJet a valuable education in what makes a print stand out at competition. This year’s judges were: Tom Carabasi of Ringling College of Art + Design; Julie Hughes, Abbey of London, Jensen Beach, Fla.; Rich Newell, Professional Photographers of America; Carmen Schettino, Carmen Schettino Photography, Sarasota; Jessica Vogel, Jessica Vogel Photography, Shelbyville, Ky.

Remote Control Aerial Photography and Printing

Aerial photography with a remote control helicopter
Media East's Droid hovering overhead and casting a shadow as it goes to its next aerial photo shoot.

One way to help maintain sanity in the crazy world of large format printing is to combine your hobby with your vocation. Jeff Sheffield, owner of Media East in Virginia Beach, Va., has done just that with remote control (RC) airplanes.

Aerial photography with a remote control airplane
The Droid shows its aerial photography capabilities in this shot near Virginia Beach, Va.

The connection between hobby and vocation is the way Sheffield is using his experience with RC planes in a unique product line that connects aerial photography, digital capture and digital inkjet printing. Sheffield has attached Canon cameras to a helium balloon and an RC plane called a Droid to take aerial photographs of the surrounding area.

This is a long play for us; we have it in place and are just now getting the word out.  We’ve shot several jobs in the last few months where people have hired us to shoot specific aerial shots for advertising purposes,” explains Sheffield. “We’ve also been shooting new developments around the Virginia Beach area. We print selected photos, frame them and send them to the economic development folks and developers to peak their interest. Then, we follow up with calls and emails.”

Remote control aerial photographySheffield prints the images on LexJet’s Sunset Photo eSatin Paper on either a Canon iPF8000S or Canon iPF9000S. We use eSatin for all of our long-term high quality photo printing. In addition to high-quality reproduction, eSatin has a nice weight so finishing doesn’t have to be quite as careful with it, which cuts down on re-prints,” says Sheffield.

The balloon is equipped with a Canon 5D Mark II and a video system where Sheffield can see what the camera sees for cropping purposes. The RC Droid carries a Canon T2i. Sheffield says he would prefer to use a 5D Mark II, but the extra weight of the higher-end camera cuts down on the battery life of the Droid, which is only 8-10 minutes as it is.

Photography from the air with a helium balloon“You’re usually flying the Droid between 50 and 100 feet, though it can go so high that you can’t really see it. The balloon can be legally flown up to 500 feet, except in close proximity to airports,” says Sheffield.

The Droid is actually more than a simple RC plane; it’s a more like a multi-rotor helicopter. Similar models are being used to capture shots on film that are almost impossible using other film techniques. Amazing footage is being shot utilizing similar methods to Sheffield’s, though they’re a bit more sophisticated.

Aerial photography with a helium balloon
Media East's helium balloon for its aerial photography.

“They’ve got their RC units set up with cameras and goggles. They’re shooting with a second camera that has a video feed to either goggles or a monitor for a first-person view. Eventually we hope to have that capability on the Droid,” says Sheffield.

To find out more about the technology and to see how it’s being used, go to and Here’s a demo video from FreeFly Cinema that shows the amazing things they’re doing with RC and digital video…

FreeFly Cinema Behind the Scenes from tabb firchau on Vimeo.