Imaging USA – 3 Days of Education, Awards & Fun in Nashville

Last month, the photography world gathered in Nashville to celebrate all things photo. From new technology to equipment insurance to the unveiling of Team USA who will compete in the World Photographic Cup, the sights and sounds from Imaging USA proved that the photography industry is more vibrant than ever!

The festivities opened with keynote speaker Jim Kwik, who provided some “kwik” tips on improving memory to enhance business. Whether using the tips to be more organized or to help remember clients’ names, the photographers were excited to kick off the event with Kwik and utilize some of his methods of remembering people they met at the show.

(l-r) Kimberly Smith, Brian Castle, Brooke Kasper

One of the most exciting events to take place during the conference was the Award and Degree Ceremony. Here, photographers – including top Sunset Award Winners Brian Castle, Kimberly Smith and Brooke Kasper – were on-hand to receive their hard-earned PPA degrees or award them to fellow photographers.

Speaking of the top three Sunset winners, they were awarded their 2019 International Print Competition trophies and cash prizes on the second day of the show.

All three winners are adamant about the artistic importance of printing their photos and the importance of being a Sunset Print Award winner when working with their clients.

Kasper feels that being part of an elite group of Sunset Print Award winners is an honor, especially because it celebrates the printed image, a practice she feels is disappearing all too quickly. “It’s such a wonderful honor to receive this award,” she says. “Especially for something that I believe in and that is becoming less [frequent], with more people doing digital. It has to be printed, it’s just not art until it is.”

Smith also considers it an honor to be recognized for printing her work. Her favorite media is Sunset Bright Velvet Rag, a fine art paper that helps her create a signature look. “I like to do color pencils over. I love the way it tears on the edges,” she says. “Winning the award is even better because this is the paper that I love. I think it [the win] is important because I print on it and I believe in it.”

Castle, who received his first two degrees – Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman – at the ceremony, believes strongly in printing his photos. “Winning an award on a national level is a pretty big achievement,” he says. “It helps me market myself, too. It shows that I take care of my prints, and I make sure they look right. It’s not just a digital file that I’m giving you, it’s a piece of art.”

Throughout the week, the convention center was teeming with classes and learning opportunities for photographers of all backgrounds. The PRINT for Success Theatre was a 3-day session that of quick hit 30-minute workshops that showed photographers how they can make more money by selling and marketing printed images. Other longer seminars ranged from Adobe Lightroom techniques to how to establish your brand.

If you are a photographer looking to gain new skills, update your equipment or be inspired by other photographers, you won’t want to miss Imaging USA 2021 in Grapevine, Texas. If you are interested in the Sunset Print Awards and competing for the top prize, ask your chairperson to register for the 2020 Awards.

Visit Our Redesigned Sunset Print Awards Website

The next time you log on to the Sunset Print Awards website, you’ll notice some changes. The sleek new appearance makes it easier for photographers to learn about the prestigious Sunset Print Awards as well as local print competitions offering the award.

Other updates include:

  • Easier navigation
  • Better views of past winners
  • Easy access to the blog for all the latest Sunset news
  • Interviews with winners
  • Recommended Sunset branded media

What hasn’t changed are the benefits to district and local winners or the top three prizes awarded at the International Photographic Competition. Each winner receives a customized crystal trophy, a lapel pin, and a free pack or roll of Sunset Media, while the three IPC finalists receive engraved trophies and cash prizes.

If you are involved in a local PPA group, camera club or other photography organization that has a minimum of 150 printed entries and would like to include the Sunset Print Award in your competition, have your chairperson register today.

This year, we will be presenting awards to the 2019 IPC winners at Imaging USA in Nashville. If you are attending later this month, be sure to stop by the IPC Display and pick up some information about the 2020 Sunset Print Awards.

2019 International Photographic Competition Winners Recognized

Congratulations to the 2019 International Photographic Competition winners. Earlier this summer, the top images were selected from the PPA District Sunset Print Award recipients:

1st Place – Brian Castle “Sins Broken Chains

2nd Place – Kimberly Smith “Owl Always Kneed You

3rd Place – Brooke Kasper “Solitary Journey

Each year, the judges award the top three prints that best embody the 12 Elements of Merit. This year’s district winners included everything from a rocky rush of water in Kari Douma’s “Just Around the River Bend” to a burgeoning chemist in Vanessa Longuski’s “Science.” As always, the talent at the district level makes it difficult for the judges selecting the National IPC winners.

Castle, who took third place in last year’s event, was once again inspired by a dream. “I dropped to my knees and prayed, this light came from above and Archangel Michael came and loaned me his wings to rip the chains apart so we could ascend to Heaven,” he says. What he didn’t expect was to be so personally affected by the photo shoot. “What did people go through back in Biblical days when they were chained like this? I teared up, it was emotional, I couldn’t hold it back,” he says.

Smith, who consistently finishes with district and national wins, had a most unusual image serve as the inspiration for her 2019 entry. “I had to have a knee MRI and they sent me home with the disk,” she says. “As I’m going through them, I noticed one of them looked like an owl.” She combined an image of a tree from a previous photography session and the base image from the MRI into an artistic image of an owl and her owlet. She won the PPA Southwest District award, subsequently leading to her second-place national finish.

Kasper says her award-winning image is extremely personal. While she may be on her own “Solitary Journey,” she has a strong faith in God, so she knows she is never truly alone. “We all have our own personal stories, and this one represents how I’m charting my course,” she says. “We may feel abandoned and alone at times, but we are surrounded by so many wonderful memories of people and things that have given us strength, even in solitude.”

Along with an engraved crystal trophy, the winners also receive cash prizes: $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. The awards for the winning photographers will be presented at Imaging USA – Nashville in January.

We want to thank all the participants in the 2019 Sunset Print Awards. You can see these and other winners on our newly redesigned Sunset Print Awards site. If you are interested in the 2020 Sunset Print Awards, have your chairperson fill out the application. The Sunset Print Award is offered to those competitions judging a minimum of 150 printed entries.

2017 National Sunset Print Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 National Sunset Print Awards. They will be presented with their awards at Imaging USA in Nashville, next month:

1st Place: The Beauty of Innocence – Kimberly J. Smith

2nd Place: Classic – Randy McNeilly

3rd Place: In Flight with Twigs – Uldis Ilvess

There were a total of 31 prints that included a junk boat on a cool and Misty Morning, a celebratory Alabaster Aster, the majesty of a Departing Flight, and even a pack of lawmen in Prepare There’s Trouble. With such a vast array of creativity and artistry displayed by the 2017 Sunset Print Awards around the country, it’s no wonder the judges had a difficult time narrowing the field down to the final three.

Discussing her Southwest PPA win earlier in the year with The Beauty of Innocence, Smith reflected on the photo shoot where she captured the innocence and serenity of a 1-year old, not an easy thing to do! “I could see the artistry in the shot and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to capture the image,” Smith said of the winning image, pictured above.

“Classic” by Randy McNeilly

Photography veteran Randy McNeilly had a total of three wins out of the PPA Southeast district, but it was his wedding portrait “Classic” – a piece that truly captures the elegance and beauty of a bride on her wedding day – that garnered a 2nd place win in the National awards. McNeilly stressed that spending time with each client is an important part of capturing their personality and learning what story is inside, begging to be told.

“In Flight with Twigs” by Uldis Ilvess

For Uldis Ilvess, a fortuitous road trip helped him score his winning shot for Professional Photographers of Iowa. While driving through the country, he spotted a few homes and decided to see if there was anything interesting. Ilvess recalls, “[there] was this fenced-in area with a pond, and in the shrubs, were these birds nesting.” Watching the birds mesmerized him, but he had to get some pictures which enabled him to capture the grace and beauty of the scene.

Along with an engraved crystal trophy, the winners will also receive cash prizes totaling $1,500 for First Place, $500 for Second Place and $300 for Third Place. We want to thank all the participants in the 2017 Sunset Awards and look forward to seeing this year’s winners in Nashville.

Heading to Imaging USA? Get Your Free Expo Pass, Courtesy of LexJet

If you’re heading to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville for Imaging USA 2018, Jan. 14 – 16, make sure to visit LexJet at booth #673. You can also go HERE to claim your free expo pass, courtesy of LexJet.

Stop by our booth to see some innovative new products, watch printer demonstrations and learn about media comparisons for several Sunset products:

Ask about our show specials on select LexJet Sunset media. Our technical director Michael Clementi will be on hand for general questions, or you can call ahead at 800-453-9538 to schedule an appointment for one-on-one training.

We will have the national winning prints from the 2017 Sunset Print Awards as well as information the upcoming 2018 awards. See you in Nashville!

Get a Free Imaging USA Expo Pass

Are you headed to Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta, Jan. 10-12? We’d love to see you there, and we’re offering free expo passes. All you have to do is go HERE to claim your free pass.

While you’re at Imaging USA next month, please stop by booth #846 to check out our gallery of the stunning winners of the Sunset Print Awards.

We’ll also have a 24-inch Epson printer and our photo print experts discussing topics like: Color management, the importance of printing your own work, and how LexJet can help you set up your own in-house printing operation.

Plus, you can learn all about the LexJet Sunset line of products and more information about getting involved with the Sunset Print Award.

Looking forward to seeing you at Imaging USA!