Guest Blog: The Power of Print Competition

By Christie Newell, winner of the 2016 National Sunset Print Award and co-owner of Sonshine Portrait Design in Germantown Hills, Ill.

Christie Newell, M.Photog., Cr. CPP, guest blogger

The ever-evolving photography industry vastly changes on a day-to-day basis. How do we stay ahead? How do we rise above the other photographers around us? What makes us grow? The answer to these questions and so many other questions is print competition.

I have been asked why I enter print competition. It can be misleading and make one think you are competing against other photographers. That is not the case. Yes, I am a photographer who creates art pieces for my clients, but I am also a print competitor, it just runs through my blood. I enter print competitions because I know how much I learn and grow. Improving my everyday work for my clients. By setting goals, reaching beyond what I think I am capable of and either failing or conquering.

Prints that Win: Soul Salvation

Soul Salvation by Christie KlineChristie Kline’s specialty is bringing out the personalities of babies and children through her photography. Each portrait she captures at Sonshine Portrait Design in Germantown Hills, Ill., is unique to the subject, but no subject is more unique than you.

For the past three years, Kline has taken a self-portrait that is uniquely her. Last year, she created a self-portrait based on Soul Salvation, the title of her Sunset Print Award-winning image at the PPA Northcentral District photographic competition.

“I made it a goal to do a self-portrait and portray what I’ve gone through that year with the image. This past year, I came up with the title before I photographed it,” explains Kline.

Kline says she shot about 200 images before she captured the right one. It was a rather long and arduous process, using a statue in the spot where she would stand to focus the camera, all the while running back and forth between the camera and the scene she had set up.

“I wrapped myself in material and was clicking the remote while I was trying to get wrapped in the material. I had a full length mirror next to the tripod so I could see the angle I was shooting. It was a three or four hour process,” says Kline. “I rendered it in black and white and brought the opacity down to about 40 percent so that it’s light and airy looking.”

The image was printed on a watercolor paper and framed with a white double-matt. At competition it initially scored an 88. However, a judge who gave it a 100 challenged it. Then, it scored a 98. There was another challenge and Soul Salvation ended up with a perfect 100 score.

“One of the judges said the composition and lighting was perfect and he couldn’t see anything he would do to make it better. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” says Kline.