it is not just a photograph anymore.

i have spent the last few hours, judging "Reflections" entries for the National PTA.  this is my second year to participate in the national judging.  the category that i work with is, of course, photography, and the age group that i am involved in judging is middle school, grades 6-8.  

this year the theme was, "the world would be a better place if..."

i judged roughly 50 entries from all over the united states.  

i was inspired, convicted, and achieved a new clarity on my particular craft as i judged. it is too much on my mind to not share - lucky you!

the judging rubric clearly calls the judging to be centered around the interpretation of the theme for the year, how creative one is interpreting the theme throughout the photography entry, and then the level of skill shown with the entry.  

time and time again, i was amazed at how i would judge a piece completely differently if i did not reference the judging guidelines continually.  how emotionally, i may get caught up in the arist statement and then start to have that emotional connection carry over into an image that didn't portray great artistic skills, and vice versa...how there may be a lackluster artist statement, but a deeper knowledge of the artistic skill set forth in the photograph.  

the critique that i needed to offer, needed to be set by following the rubric intentionally.  

ok...hold tight with me...i know...what does all of this mean? and why am i blogging about it?

for me, i so clearly was able to insert this beside the photography industry of today,  how "i" fit into it, and what i am called to do. 

fact.   many many people own great, and even expensive cameras.  consumers have high quality labs at their fingertips, enabling access to prints and products only professionals could produce even up to a couple of years ago.  the amount of self labeled "photographers" in the community today is enormous!  

so where does the value or the "scoring" in the photography industry come from?

why would you choose to pay me for a visual that more than likely, someone else out there could give to you.?

the answer is simply found in WHY. 

looking back, i believe i have always had a why.  i delivered emotion.  i delivered artistry.  i delivered a feeling.  my photography skill level has grown tremendously over the past ten years.  but if i do not continually refer back to my "why", i have a very good chance of not achieving what i intend to.  

just as these students who have reached a national level with their photographic entry, need to be scored specifically according to the rules, i need to own my skill, delivery and intent in every job that i perform and commit to.  

simply said, i need to be dedicated to my "why."

from here i could give you example after example showing and proving why this is so important.  

however, i am going to just offer you this:

i know i take incredibly artistic, beautiful images. 

i know my God given plus educated talent together is valuable.  

i know i have the studio facility, and the latest state of the art equipment to create high quality, beautiful images for you. 

but the single most, unmatched value i can give to you is this:

every time i raise my camera, i embark to create an uncompromised, invaluable photographic and emotionally tied memory for you.  i will strive to show you as a woman, no matter what age you may be (ages 8-88!),  that you may see yourself as the unique, treasured woman that God has created you to be. that the time that you spend with me and my team, will bring you to a deeper understanding of yourself...your purpose...your confidence...your self perception.  that you  will walk away from the complete experience with portraits to cherish for all time...for all generations, but also will have a new carved out place in your heart to hold dear and commit to as you never have before.  

and what will happen from there?

your photograph will no longer be just a photograph. 

your arms will stretch wider, with more possible strength than you knew you had within you. 

you will be supercharged and renewed to embark, create, do, be...

you see, it truly is NOT about just a photograph any more. 

-xx