First, the greatest images demand that you look at them (impact). They ask you to read them. Little hints here and there reaffirm and reward the viewer. I have learned terms such as “crash points” (thanks Jill Hillenga!) where the viewer’s eyes are taken away from the story to a distraction. I have learned about gesture, where the hands tell you where to look or how a subject is feeling. I have discovered how patterns and shapes can reward a viewer for taking the time to see a portrait or work. I have learned so much about symbolism. Sometimes these things require a bit more brain work from the viewer, but once you see it the reward is astounding. The thing is that when you enter into actual live judged print competitions you are able to hear conversations about the world before you. I have found myself mesmerized in these rooms. Sometimes I have missed the story then a judge sees it and I am filled with tears of pride for the maker. And even with my own work, my friend David told me to stop asking myself why NOT this one and WHY this one! It took me several years to gain the coveted gold distinction and a first place in a category. I actually thought I was going to get a 79 on it (not a merited image with WPPI) and when I did get that 98 score, I was overwhelmed. I immediately did what David Edmonson and Luke told me: I asked, “Why this one?” And I saw it. I saw the brilliant composition and impact from the dominant mass of my subject. I saw all the little confirming shapes and patterns mimicked in her dress, hair and crown. I saw the presentation of the dandelions framing her, ironically imbalanced, placed in a perfect circle. I saw this story of this little wonderful wondering girl proclaiming herself perfectly as the dandelion queen.
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