Diamond Photographer of the Year Article

Below is one of my international award winning portraits that recently appeared in Professional Photographer magazine.

This is the article that ran with it...

Each year, Professional Photographer shares a feature story about the Diamond Photographers of the Year. These esteemed image creators have earned the highest level of success in the PPA International Photographic Competition (IPC) by landing four images in the prestigious PPA Loan Collection. To appreciate the scope of this achievement fully, it helps to look at the numbers.

During the 2012 competition judged this summer, more than 1,200 professional photographers submitted nearly 5,000 images for consideration. This represents about a 20 percent increase in participation over the previous year. Approximately 1,800 of those images earned a merit based on 12 elements defined as necessary for the success of an art piece or image. Of those, only 476 were selected for the PPA Loan Collection. That's less than 10 percent of the total submission pool. And this isn't your typical collection of photo submissions. This is the PPA International Photographic Competition, the contest for professionals who have worked diligently to excel at their craft, studying, composing and capturing thousands of images in the process. So the submitted photographs already reflect a high standard of expectation.

To Land an image within the top 10 percent is impressive.

To land four images in this elite category is amazing. Only eight photographers reached that level of accomplishment this year. These Diamond Photographers of the Year are breathing rarified air, to be sure, representing about 0.006 percent of the total contenders.

"The Diamond Photographers are setting the bar for everyone else, says Dennis Craft, chairman of the PPA Print Exhibition Committee. " We've seen a progressive improvement in the quality of images submitted to the competition over the past few years, and those who have competed over a period of time are really raising the standard. But what these photographers understand better than anyone is that the IPC isn't just about winning awards. It's also a way to determine how your images measure against good, quality photography. It's a way to make yourself better."

It's also a vital component in earning the PPA Master of Photography degree, which has become a credible differentiator in an increasingly competitive field. For now, though, the Diamond Photographers of the Year have no competition. They are on a level by themselves. And these are their award-winning Images.

This is the image that appeared in Professional Photographers Magazine



Evolution of an idea

I recently created a poster for the Bettendorf boys basketball team.  It was my first time working with them and they left everything up to me to come up with an idea.  They have a new coach this year and I wanted to create something that would show off the fact that it was the beginning of something new without doing something that has been done a million times before.

I was inspired by the image of the soldiers raising the flag of Iwo Jima.  I hope that using that image for inspiration will be seen as a tribute to those soldiers and help inspire more people to be interested in and remember those events.  While creating the poster I wanted to keep that same dynamic shape that the soldiers had created while raising the flag yet stray from it as much as possible in order to keep that historic image unique.

I started off with a quick sketch on paper.  I knew that there was going to be 6 seniors hoisting the hoop into the air and wanted to get a rough idea I was actually going to be able to fit them. 
Next I opened up photoshop and began building my idea. My first idea was to have them standing on piles of broken gym floor boards - as if they were rebuilding an entire gym. Before I went through all the work of actually creating or capturing a broken gym floor I went to some stock sites to see if I could try a sample pile of broken boards to give me a better idea of what it would look like and if it was what I wanted. I also dropped in a sky. I then quickly drew some stick figures to see what approximate size they would need to be.
Then I began extracting them from the green screen and placing them in the scene.  One problem that I ran into was that when they were holding the basketball hoop they were all at different angles.  So I had to do some extra careful positioning in order to get them to fit. 

Yes, I actaully have a full sized hoop in my studio!  (though it has been set on fire and the backboard shattered for other  crazy projects)

I also tried a lightning sky to see if I wanted a really stormy sky in the background but I felt it distracted too much from the players.

In my final version I felt it needed to be even further simplified so instead of a pile of boards I simply painted a black hill. Fog and a forest of basketball hoops faiding into the distance completed the scene.