Prints That Win: Vigilante

“Vigilante” by Billy Dzwonkowski

As a child, Billy Dzwonkowski would take pictures of trains, but the Bradenton, Fla., artist didn’t realize then that he would one day be a preeminent photographer. “I liked taking pictures, but I had no idea I wanted to make a living doing that. I wasn’t on the yearbook staff in high school and when I went on a trip to London, I didn’t even take a camera,” Dzwonkowski says.

Later in high school, fate stepped in and subtly guided Dzwonkowski to a world behind the lens. He was in marching band with photographer Al Gordon’s son. He was the unofficial marching band photographer and would often suggest that Dzwonkowski come by the studio so he could teach him the art of taking pictures. It wasn’t until two years later – on his 20th birthday – that he took Gordon up on his offer, and he hasn’t looked back since. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and it never gets old,” he said.

Prints that Win: Billy Wright

Billy Wright by Tim Kelly

Simple and clean is the philosophy that has been the cornerstone of award-winning veteran photographer Tim Kelly’s success. Kelly’s philosophy is perfectly illustrated with this Sunset Print Award-winner, a portrait of up and coming singer/songwriter musician Billy Wright.

Kelly won a Sunset Print Award for Billy Wright’s portrait at the recent Florida Professional Photographers competition. Billy Wright’s portrait is not flashy, but each technical element is spot-on, something the judges could not possibly overlook.

“At the state competition, it was one of about 40 prints entered out of a total of around 400 images. They judged the prints first, and I can tell you from competing for 30 years that you don’t want your prints judged in the first round, because the judges haven’t found their set point and they’re very conservative early on,” says Kelly. “Getting through the first round is a good thing, especially when you’re doing work that’s not high-impact or snazzy, but is just clean. It was ultimately selected as best print of the show.”

During the session, Kelly shot black-and-white film, 4×5 film and digital, selecting one of the 4×5 shots to add to his portfolio and enter in competition. It was a back-to-basics portrait session, but all of Kelly’s portrait photography is about the doing the basics well.

“I don’t make a habit of manipulating my images, even though I’ve been doing Photoshop since the first version came out. I make sure that my look doesn’t include any trendy, faddish elements. I try to go with a stock, clean, unaffected image,” explains Kelly. “I scanned the film, touched up his face a little bit and made my image for my portfolio and competition. Simplicity proves itself when you let it. When you have the fidelity the film can give, and then making the perfect print myself, it gives me quite an edge.”

Kelly also took great care to ensure that the overall presentation with the digital border elements he created would not distract from the subject matter. Again, clean and simple is what he strives for in his work.

“I try and make sure the tonal value of the border corresponds to and enhances the existing background. I never want to throw in new textures and densities when I want your eye to go to the subject. Where do you want me to look if I’m the viewer? Don’t distract me with other pinstripes and design elements,” says Kelly. “This is just a digital add of photo edges and a background tone pulled out of the image, which I printed with a sepia feel. I’ve been a fan of warmer black and white for portraits. I don’t sell, produce or enter cold-toned black-and-white photos. I photograph people, and people need some kind of warmth.”

Prints that Win: Photography in the Twilight Zone

Michael Zerivitz, DDS is a Deltona, Fla.-based dentist who’s had a lifelong fascination with photography. Though his photography is a sideline to his successful practice, Zerivitz has been practicing photography since high school.

Award winning photographyThat continual practice, plus the help of his professional photographer friends in the Orlando area, helped make Dr. Zerivitz a distinguished award-winning photographer.

“I set photography aside after college while I raised a family and started a practice. Then I went to back to school at Daytona State College, which has a great photography program, and started getting together with mentors in the Orlando area,” says Zerivitz. “I have some really good professional photographer friends who have a group called the Portrait Artists Group and I was fortunate enough to be invited to join them. I have to give credit to my friends and mentors in the Orlando area who have helped me become a better photographer.”

Zerivitz was recently honored with a Distinguished Award in the Architecture category and a LexJet Sunset Award at the recent Florida Professional Photographers convention for his work entitled Twilight Zone.

Zerivitz captured the image while touring the Israeli Supreme Court building. A certain passageway with windows lining the corridor leading to an interior courtyard caught his fancy so he stopped and took a frame. Later, the image caught his eye again.

Though it’s not the type of shot he usually takes or enters in competition, he did some minor adjustments to it in Photoshop and Nik Software to make it more high key and had the image printed by photographer Tim Kelly.

“We mounted it and matted the print, and then hand-cut the deckling along the edges. There was a little exit sign that was visible in the corner we took out, but other than that it’s a straight shot,” says Zerivitz. “I call it the Twilight Zone because it reminds me of the opening of the old TV show. I think the judges liked the monochromatic image with tones that are all in similar ranges.”

Despite his busy schedule fixing and fine-tuning teeth, Zerivitz is pursuing Certified Professional Photographer and Master Photographer degrees and had one of his images accepted into the PPA Loan Collection this year. Last year Zerivitz was among the Top 10 Florida Professional Photographers and was Photographer of the Year in his local guild.

Here are some of the stories (Prints that Win) of other LexJet Sunset Award winners:

Printing to Win with Sunset Photo Metallic and eSatin Inkjet Media

Bridging the Realism Gap

Something Old, Something New

Old West Shootout in the Southeast

Bridge over Water

Walking the Lonely Street

The Artisan’s Workbench

The Perfect Image with the Perfect Paper and Laminate

David Ziser Wins Sunset Award for Print on Sunset Photo eSatin

Meet Photo-Printing Experts from LexJet at Regional Photography Shows

If you’re new to professional photography or can’t attend one of the national conferences and shows every year, you will find some top-notch education and networking opportunities at one of the regional conferences and trade shows conducted by regional affiliates of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

Plus, you can see how your own photography stacks up compared to the award-winning prints produced by other photographers in your region. Many LexJet customers enter prints in the regional print competitions held in conjunction with these shows.