At the Event Space: Frank Dispensa's Print Competition

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Recently, Frank Dispensa lectured in the Event Space, speaking first about “Creating the Perfect Digital Negative.“ (If you missed it, you can purchase it on a DVD directly from Frank’s website.) Later on, he held his own print competition, where he judged various entries. The participants competed for some really cool prizes as well.


The prizes were:

1st Prize- Moab Chine Ice Nine Portfolio, B&H Logo Hat, FujiFilm Instax Camera & Film pack, $50 dollar B&H Gift Card, Vincent Versace and John Paul Caponigro Instructional DVD’s.

2nd Prize- Moab 13x19 Paper Pack, Lindsay Adler's “Linked Photographers Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media,” Vincent Versace and John Paul Caponigro Instructional DVD’s.

3rd Prize- Manfrotto MP1-C01 Small Pocket Support, Moab 81/2x11 Paper Pack, Vincent Versace DVD.

As I photographed the prizes, many thoughts went through my head: Who would win these? What types of images will Frank think are worth winning? Also, what will the reactions of the photographers be when their photos are critiqued.

Frank sat in the front row of the Event Space and the participants in the competition all sat around him towards the front. The design of the newly renovated Event Space includes lighting panels with barndoors towards the presenter's area. The lights were focused on the framed photos to give everyone a better view of the images as each one was critiqued by Frank.

Oh, and the Fujifilm X100 made an appearance too!

Event Space Director David Brommer started off the competition by greeting and welcoming the guests. He also thanked Frank for coming to do this. Frank has entered many national photo judging competitions and conducted this one in such a way to simulate what would happen at one of those.

Frank spoke about many things when judging including things that I wouldn't have even have thought about. Amongst these were aspects such as trying to figure out subject matter, focusing, composition, colors, use of white frames that contrast too much with a dark image, etc. And from listening to him, one gained a lot of knowledge.

One thing became clear, since this was a PPA inspired print competition there was an emphasis on the tittle of the image. Points were not awarded for either a lack of title or poorly chosen title. This surprised the attendees and made them consider Frank's guidance on this often overlooked nuance.

Frank was very expressive in his critiques and reminded the audience many times that his words were meant to be constructive and that no one should take offense. Indeed, some of the photographers did seem a bit sensitive when having their work critiqued and even had insightful debates with Frank about it during the judging process.

As Frank studied the photos carefully, many particpants in the front row did as well. As you can see in the photo above, those all the way in the back even tried to lean around to get a better look in order to understand what Frank was talking about when he made the critiques.

Frank often stood up, touched the photos and pointed out many different aspects of them that could have been better or that he loved. Indeed, he loved many of the entries and said that he would hang them up on his wall.

When particpants asked questions, Frank even tried to demonstrate how the images could be better.

3rd place: Lev Radin

2nd place: Debra Wells

1st place: Jay Dorfman

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I attended Frank's workshop before the competition and wish to thank the B&H Event Space for an enlightening session. Few people know their stuff quite like Frank. Also want to express my thanks to Fuji, Moab and B&H for the generous prizes.  

Thanks Jay, you earned it- good work!