Levels Of Print Competition

I’m a huge fan of print competition.  Since I joined Professional Photographers of America several years ago, nothing has helped my image-making more than entering competition.  If you haven’t entered, here is a quick overview of the different levels of competitions.

Local Level

Many large cities have their own PPA Affiliate guilds that meet monthly.  Many of these also have monthly print competitions.  This is where I got started and is a great place for any newbie to jump in.  Generally, the rules will be a little more loose and the entries will either be judged by the attendees or perhaps a few of the Master Photographers who are guild members.  Although the scoring probably won’t be all that accurate, it’s a  pretty good indicator of which images have impact and which ones don’t!

State Level

When you enter your state’s competition, it will generally be more structured- meaning more like PPA International judging.  The prints will be judged by a panel made up of PPA approved jurors, Master Photographers and convention speakers.  There are usually a bunch of awards given away at these conventions, which makes entering them quite popular.

District Level

The next step is to enter at the District level.  Check out this MAP and see which district you belong to.  Now there is good news and bad news at this level.  The bad news is that your prints won’t generally score as highly as they did at the state level, since this competition is judged primarily by PPA-approved jurors.  The good news is that any entry that receives a score of 80 or higher will get a Seal of Approval.  (more on that in a sec)

International Print Competition

This is the top level of competition that PPA offers.  All entries are judged by the top affiliate jurors in PPA.  Getting a merit at this level actually gives you credit toward the various PPA degrees.  If you send in a print with a Seal of Approval, you automatically get a merit.  Next, all the merit images are judged for the prestigious Loan Collection.

So now that you have an outline of the process, it’s time to start entering.  Find out when your next state convention is planned and be sure to bring your prints.  Remember, if you want to create better images – print competition is the way to go!


  1. Larry,

    The more I am online the more I appreciate print. I love sitting down to a good book. I love magazines. There is just something about touching and holding things that raises my havingness. It just feels richer.

    Good luck your next competition, it sounds like fun.

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