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: In Flight With Twigs

Photographer Uldis Ilvess was on a road trip through South Carolina when he took his Sunset Print Award-winning photograph In Flight with Twigs. “We happened to drive by a small pasture with some private houses, and in between the houses was this fenced in area with a pond, and in the shrubs were these birds nesting there,” says Ilvess. The image of the bird with twigs in its mouth instantly captivated him.

Based in Des Moines, IA, Ilvess has been a photographer since the 1970s. The art form originally started out as a hobby for him before developing into a full career. He taught photography through a local art center, which he says was a mutually beneficial experience.

Prints That Win: Mirror Mirror

mirror mirrorPhotographer Ben Shirk isn’t afraid of a challenge. In fact, when considering what to shoot for this year’s print competitions, a friend dared him to created an award-winning photograph in-camera, rather than relying on his advanced Photoshop skills for creative editing.

The result: Mirror Mirror, pictured at left, which won the Sunset Print Award during the Professional Photographers of Iowa’s annual competition earlier this year.

“It took a great deal of planning and preciseness to get it correct,” Shirk says. “I had to get the wig, the eyelashes, the lighting, everything just perfect. It probably took me 15 hours to go out and get everything and get it all ready. If I’d have done it in Photoshop, I could have done it in an hour.”

Prints that Win: Peace on Earth

Photo by Uldis Ilvess

A classic American scene, photographed by veteran photographer Uldis Ilvess and entitled Peace on Earth, is one of our first Sunset Print Award winners for 2014. By virtue of his award at the recent Professional Photographers of Iowa competition for Peace on Earth, Ilvess is also one of the first to be entered into the Sunset Print Award national competition.

The photograph is a masterpiece of composition and subtle lighting that brought the judges to a near unanimous decision.

“Most of the judges concurred that it was a wow image. There was one judge that felt it was too reminiscent of a Christmas card, but another judge said they’d like it as a Christmas card or as something to put it up on their wall,” says Ilvess.

Taken on a snowy day – during a blizzard, really – with a Nikon D800, the subject is Church of the Land, which can be found at Living History Farms in Des Moines, Iowa. It’s also the spot that Pope John Paul II spoke when he visited Iowa in 1979.

“I processed the image in Photoshop where I did some sharpening, an etching effect, and toned it slightly to give it a golden-brown cast. I also did some dodging and burning to enhance the image,” says Ilvess. “I knew what I wanted when I was there and took 15-20 different shots. I knew the composition was there, with the fence and lamppost in the right spots, but the snow was coming down so intensely with large snowflakes that I had to wait for the right time where the snow wouldn’t interfere with the image.”

Enter the Northcentral District Competition and Win a LexJet Sunset Award

The Professional Photographers of Iowa will host the PPA Northcentral District Photographic Competition judging at its annual Winter Convention 2013, Feb. 8-12 at the Airport Holiday Inn in Des Moines.

Photo competitionThe winner in the Best Color Printed Image category also wins a LexJet Sunset Award. The LexJet Sunset Award comes with a $250 gift certificate for LexJet-branded products, including the award-winning Sunset line of photo and fine art papers and canvas. If the award-winning image is printed on a Sunset paper the winner also picks up an iPad Mini. For more information about the competition rules, click here.

In addition to the print competition, Winter Convention 2013 will also feature a full educational program with such photography luminaries as Clark and Rachel Marten, Mark Ridinger, Mark Bryant, Kia and Andy Bondurant, Brian Baer, Janel Pahl, Gary and Kathy Meek, Mark Garber and Jennifer Gilman, Larry Lourcey, Doug Gifford, Bob Clements, Jeff Bokhoven, Michael Cravens, Jen Basford, Zach and Jody Gray, Doug Box, Jerry Ghionis, Doug Lohnes, Chris Becker, Lori Nordstrom, Michael Cerizo and Kim LaFauce.

For more information about Winter Convention 2013, the seminars, exhibitors and other special events and prizes, go to http://www.ppiowa.com/events-detail.php?event=30.