2018 International Print Competition Winners Announced

Congratulations to the 2018 International Print Competition winners. In August, 26 District PPA Sunset Print Award winners vied for the coveted top spot, when the judging was finished, the winners were announced:

1st Place: Leaving with Dignity – Kimberly J. Smith

2nd Place: From the Ashes – Dawn Muncy

3rd Place: Heaven’s Hands of Hope – Brian Castle

There’s always such creative diversity in the Sunset Print Award winners and 2018 was no exception. From a snowy landscape in Winter Pastel to a canine Gentle Giant to a train bringing families Home for the Holidays, the judges did not have an easy job selecting the top three images.

“From the Ashes” by Dawn Muncy – 2nd Place

For Smith, winning back-to-back titles is exciting and she’s incredibly happy that her work has such an impact on the judges, “Impact is so important. I put a lot of emotion behind the story in my images and the judges can tell,” she says. “It’s not just another pretty picture. When they see the title [of the image], I want them to brace for impact, I want them to feel something, and apparently, they did.”

Muncy describes the stages of her “competition journey” and how the third and final phase allows her to be expressive with her work: “When you get to be yourself and let your creativity flow, that’s when competition becomes powerful. I know the rules, now I want to show the world who I am.”

First-time Sunset Print Award-winner Castle also thrives on creating emotional impact through his visual storytelling.

“Heaven’s Hands of Hope” by Brian Castle – 3rd Place

“When I can give my clients an image that creates emotion and causes them to tear up, I know I’ve done my job,” he says. “I would never have learned that unless I started competing.”

Along with an engraved crystal trophy, the winners will also receive cash prizes: $2,000 for First Place, $1,000 for Second Place and $500 for Third Place. We want to thank all the participants in the 2018 Sunset Print Awards and will have information regarding the 2019 awards coming soon.

 

Prints That Win: Heaven’s Hands of Hope

LexJet Sunset Print Award winner Brian Castle of Picture Perfect Photography was destined to be a photographer. The Kingsport, Tenn., native grew up in a town that was home to Eastman Kodak.

“Heaven’s Hands of Hope” by Brian Castle

“My dad worked for Eastman Kodak and I spent time in the darkrooms, where I learned to develop film,” Castle says. His experiences in the EK darkrooms and his parents’ influence led him down the photography path. “I was in high school when I picked up my dad’s film camera. I was hooked, it was over. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a photographer.”

Since Castle started with film in a pre-digital world, he had to learn to get the shot right from the beginning. “I learned early on that I needed to set the shot I wanted and then take it, not shoot a bunch of pictures and hope for the best,” he says. “Even with digital, I still set the shot beforehand. I guess it’s because I can still hear my mom and dad saying, ‘don’t waste my film’ when I was younger.”

Castle is already inspiring his 2-year-old daughter to follow in his story-telling footsteps. “Now that I’ve given her a camera, I’m teaching her about telling a story,” he says. “It’s not about getting the perfect picture, it’s about telling someone’s story. If I didn’t do that, I didn’t do my job.”

With his PPA Southeast District award-winning image “Heaven’s Hands of Hope,” Castle did his job by telling his own story. He says that he wanted to do something different, he just didn’t know how. The idea for the photo came to him in a dream.

“I wanted to tell the story of how I turn to God when the weight of the world is too much to bear,” he says. “The hands below me are my wife’s and daughter’s and represent my Earthly family. They are the ones who lift my hands to Heaven when I don’t have the strength.”

Castle knows that the presentation of the image is just as important as the story, which is why he used lighting to create an oblong vignette, giving the appearance of praying hands behind him.  To create a mystical look and complete the ethereal feeling, he chose to print the image on LexJet Sunset Cotton Etching 285g.

While this is a very personal image for Castle, he felt that it was important for people to feel the impact of the story and understand that there is a place to turn in times of struggle. He’s had such a profound response to the image that he’s decided to make a video about the image to share the story and show people how to look for help when they need it.

Creating impact for his clients is what drives him. His motivation comes from his clients, but he’s learned the importance of impact through competition. “When I can give my clients an image that creates emotion and causes them to tear up, I know I’ve done my job,” he says. “I would never have learned that unless I started competing.”

Competitions are critical for photographers. Not just for merit, but for experience and guidance. The opportunity to improve comes with every competition and feedback provided by the judges. Castle takes the competitions seriously, not only to help him with his clients but also in hopes of reaching a personal goal: Rich Newell’s World Photographic Cup team. “When you represent Team USA, it’s like being in the Olympics of Photography. That’s the summit,” Castle says.

With continued support from his family and his faith in God, Castle feels that he will be able to climb any mountain that lies ahead of him. In the meantime, he wants to continue creating art for his clients: “I don’t want to give them just a photo for their wall. I want to give them an experience, a piece of art. I want them to feel emotion every time they look at the image.”

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.

Prints That Win: The Colonel in Twilight

With his portrait photography work, Shelby, N.C., photographer Randy McNeilly is no stranger to delivering images with deep storytelling. Case in point: “The Colonel in Twilight,” above, a stunning portrait of a Vietnamese military man that won not only the Sunset Print Award and Best of Show at the PPA Southeast District print competition with a perfect 100 score, but was also awarded third place in the National Sunset Print Award last month.

Sunset Print Award: Enter to Win Big Prizes at These Upcoming Competitions

Sunset Print Award
Photo by previous Sunset Print Award winner Jeff Dachowski, M. Photog., Cr., CPP, C.Ph.

The Sunset Print Award is being presented at print competitions across the U.S. Though 12 competitions are already completed, there are still about a dozen remaining that you can enter for a chance to win a Sunset Print Award.

Winners of the Sunset Print Award at each competition receive a crystal trophy, a lapel pin, and a $250 gift certificate for Sunset-branded inkjet media. Sunset Print Award winners at each competition receive an additional prize, an iPad Mini, if the winning image is printed on Sunset inkjet media. Entries do not need to be printed on Sunset media to qualify, but must be inkjet-printed.

Each winner in the regional and local competitions is then automatically entered to win the Grand Prize in the national Sunset Print Award competition. The Grand Prize winner receives airfare for two to Sarasota, Fla., with lodging at Lido Beach resort for three days and two nights, a $500 Visa gift card and national recognition. Second and third place winners receive a $500 and $300 Visa gift card respectively.

Following are the competitions being held through the end of March. For a full list of upcoming competitions (there are a bunch of them in April) and more information about those competitions, go to www.sunsetprint.com/competitions/.

Professional Photographers of Ohio, Lewis Center, Ohio: Print submissions are due by Monday, March 17, and the convention, called Photo Blast, runs from March 20-23 in Lewis Center. Click here for more information.

PPA Southeast District, Atlanta: Print submissions are due by March 19. District judging will be held in conjunction with the Georgia state convention in Atlanta, March 27-79. Click here for more information.

Professional Photographers of Michigan, Livonia, Mich.: Entries must be in the print room by 6 p.m. on Friday, March 28, with judging beginning the next morning at 9. The PPM March Madness convention runs March 28 through April 1 in Livonia. Click here for more information.

GPPA Print Competition, Atlanta: All entries must be uploaded by March 20, and the convention runs March 27-29 in Atlanta. There are two opportunities for Sunset Print Awards, through both the PPA Southeast District (see above) and the GPPA Print Competition. Click here for more information.

Wyoming Professional Photographers Association, Casper, Wyo.: Print submissions are due March 24 and the convention runs March 30 through April 1 in Casper. Click here for more information.

Good luck, get involved and get recognized! Check with each competition to verify submission deadlines, judging dates, submission/entry rules and more.

And be sure to visit www.sunsetprint.com for more information about the Sunset Print Award, a full list of upcoming competitions, the Sunset product line, and more. If you have any questions, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

Prints that Win: Something Old, Something New

Portrait photography

Lightning does strike twice, or at least the LexJet Sunset Award for outstanding photography did. Ann Naugher was honored earlier this year with a LexJet Sunset Award at PPA’s Southeast District competition for her portrait entitled Windswept, and most recently added another to her collection with another portrait entitled Monet’s Garden at the PPA’s Southwest District competition.

Naugher’s specialty is children’s portrait photography enhanced with Corel Painter, printed on fine-art canvas, embellished with oil paints and then finished with a lacquer. What results are classic yet timeless pieces of art that have gained a nationwide following of enthusiastic and appreciative customers.

Though Naugher has carved a popular and award-winning niche with her style of portrait photography, she likes to share credit with the artist who paints her backgrounds – David Maheu of Backgrounds by Maheu – and the subjects of the photos.

For the Monet’s Garden portrait, Maheu painted a rendition of Monet’s Rose Garden at Giverny, which Naugher then used as a background and the key element from which everything else in the photograph flowed.

“My business is primarily based on high-end, classic children’s work. When I do ‘classic’ I never want it to be stodgy, boring or monochromatic; I want to incorporate contemporary with classic,” explains Naugher. “The old master’s work at the time was very contemporary and the colors used are very much in vogue today. I wanted to give my client something new and vibrant, but born of something old and timeless.”

When Naugher visited with the judges following the PPA Southwest District competition, her goals were corroborated by their comments, such as that it’s a classic portrait that incorporates good lighting, balance and composition. “That’s what I was hoping to accomplish,” she says.

Monet’s Garden garnered a 99 out of 100 at the competition. Previously, at the Oklahoma competition (Naugher is based in Tulsa), it scored a 100.