It’s actually been a bit of an exciting week this week! Throughout July you will all know I was beavering away to put together a series of images to enter into the 2020 MPA International Awards which has taken on a different format this year because of the obvious situation in the world.

I was planning on entering 6 or 9 images, whichever I could manage to create in time. However, by 1 week to deadline, I had 18 images in my shortlist and zero way of narrowing it down. I ended up sitting there with a mega spreadsheet literally “marking” the images on the three areas being marked this year, applying the weighting for each area and then I was going to objectively cull anything that was dead weight.

The areas being marked were:

  • Finished Product (40%)
  • RAW files (SOOC) (30%)
  • Post Processing (30%)

In the Finished Product section, I am 99% sure that you are marked on the following areas, and as always, marks are deducted not given:

  • Impact
  • Creativity/Style
  • Composition
  • Presentation
  • Centre of Interest
  • Lighting
  • Colour
  • Technical Excellence
  • Photographic Technique
  • Storytelling/Subject

Through this bizarre and OTT self-marking effort, 3 images were deemed “dead weight” by my little brain and were removed. However, after much deliberation, I did add one of them back in. Basically, I couldn’t decide on what else to cull. I gave up!

A total (a bit silly) of 16 images went into the pot for the Round 1 Judging. There are 3 “rounds” but as far as I can tell, nothing can be culled out of round 2 unless it is a disqualification? Again, unconfirmed. The Rounds are:

  • Prelim Judging
  • Raw/PP Judging
  • Print Judging
  1. In the prelim judging stage, again unconfirmed but it did happen last year, a group of judges do a “first cull” – they essentially looked at the entered JPG under set conditions and selected what would be put in front of the Round 2/3 judging teams.
  2. RAW judging was based on the quality of the image out of the camera, as well as the similarity of the RAW to the final image. The latter part of that will hit me hard, but the post-processing section shouldn’t be too bad for me. This section is judged on the quality of the processing afterwards, in theory regardless of the amount used.
  3. The print round is the last section, these judges won’t have seen the RAW files and they judge the finished piece independently of all other rounds.

I was on a photography business coaching call when the lady on the other end received an email notifying her to her images which had got through Round 1 to Round 2/3. At this point, I didn’t have an email (minor sad moment happened) but we discussed her entries and celebrated virtually!

About 5-10 minutes later I received my email. Low and behold, a huge list faced me from the email. I had to manually count them to make sure that it was indeed all 16! For my first stab at this awards, 16 of 16 through is pretty mega!

The next step is to have every image printed to rules spec and received at the MPA via tracked delivery by the end of August. You do not get the prints back, so quite literally this is an expensive print run that I will never see again. It’s important for me to be working with a print lab who I trust to care as much about the prints as I would. That’s why I began working with a new (to me) lab last month, just in case. I will cover more on this print lab in the future, but for now, we wait!

I am, however, trying to not count my chickens before they hatch, because there’s a mountain of work for the judging teams to do and a long wait from now until the (online) live awards on the 18th October, when the finalists and winners will be announced. There is stiff competition in our category too, and with my style being quite “extreme”, it’s not something I’m happy to bet on! For now, I’m just pleased that at least Round 1 Judges thought me worthy!

I do not want to share my panel just yet, because if a judge sees an image and correlates it back to a person, they cannot mark the image. However, you can see most of those entered on Instagram, albeit most have been tweaked slightly prior to entering.

Congratulations to everyone who got through to print, but actually congratulations should be given for anyone who entered. It wasn’t an easy process and if you are new to this awards, and we all are quite new to the RAW part anyway, it shows determination to even get here, so freaking well done!

Popcorn party on the 18th October anyone?