It was one of my last traveling events before the COVID-19 virus lockdown. And I’m glad I got there!

I hadn’t been to Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) convention for a number of years. I must share that a major highlight was to view and enjoy the 16×20 print exhibition. In a word? Incredible!

WPPI 16×20 category winners

You can get a taste of the award winning work by checking out the category winners on the WPPI website. If you are looking to be inspired by exquisite creative work it’s worth a look. There were near 3,000 entries. I talked with some of those responsible below.

wppi print exhibit
Photographers enjoying the print exhibit on the trade show floor.

Arlene Evans

I checked in with Content Director for WPPI, Rangefinder and PhotoPlus, Arlene Evans, to get her thoughts on the competition. “I think it’s the best education tool at the show. You can’t beat learning live from the judge’s comments! I personally noticed how makers are pushing boundaries in image making.” Evans continued, “ We are very proud that this is a printed competition, there’s a lot of beauty in the printed pieces.”

Below are some thoughts from a few of the WPPI 16×20 judges.

Tony Corbell

“Been doing this for a while and I think I’ve seen this week, the best collection overall of work I’ve seen in years. I’m blown away by what we see,” enthused Tony.

How did the judging go? “I think it’s smoother than it’s ever been. It’s getting better. Small, subtle refinements that improve the process for the maker have been made. It’s all about the makers, not about the judges. It’s about the creators and their work.”

Judge Allison Carlino

“Judging this year was fantastic. I saw images that seriously inspired me.”

But why should makers enter competition? “To drive your skill level up! It has nothing to do with what people are doing around you. It’s for you to be better than you were last year or even last week.”

Getting up close and personal with beautifully printed and presented work.

Judge Gary Hughes

“[WPPI] have really honed in on making print competition an educational event. They stop and explain the process so people know what’s going on. Those who are attending get the most. I think that’s the value in having the competition at the conference,” said Hughes. “The people who compete have the opportunity to sit in the judging room. They make a lot of time to ensure everybody knows about the process of what’s going on and why the judges are doing certain things. I think that that is probably the best part of this conference. It’s a very powerful educational experience.”

I wanted to know if any one specific image stuck with him. “Yes! There was a beautiful storytelling portrait of a hundred year old man with a newborn baby. The photographer had built a set and it was a beautifully crafted image. I actually got choked up. As a matter of fact, I’m getting choked up right now thinking about it. There are always images that you will never forget. And, that is one that is burned into my brain forever!”

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob