Director, Portfolio Distinctions✉ John M. Davis, Jr., HonPSA, MPSA·
The Portfolio Distinction encourages photographers to produce a body of work that reflects their personal style and photographic interest and that, as they progress through the levels, will inspire them to demonstrate their increasing competence, originality and innovative skills.All applications are made online.
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IMPORTANT UPDATES AND NEWS:
The Portfolio Committee received a large number of applications for portfolio assessments - more assessments are now being planned for 2019.
Session 1, 2019, for new portfolios, is now full. They will be assessed on February 19, 21 and 22, 2019. PHOTOVAULTONLINE is now closed.
The Session 2 dates (probably April 2019) and the dates of future Sessions in 2019, will be announced here, along with closing dates and the number of new portfolios to be assessed.
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The first level is the BPSA – Bronze – and requires a submission of 10 images.
The second level is the SPSA – Silver – and requires a submission of 15 images. You may only apply for an SPSA if you already have a BPSA.
The third level is the GPSA - Gold - and requires a submission of 20 images. You may only apply for a GPSA if you already have a SPSA.
It is important to remember that it is not just an increase in the number of images required for a higher distinction but also an increase in the standard of your application.
Digital Projected Images, Home/Commercially Processed Prints, or Digital 3D Images may be entered.
The Portfolio of images must have an evident theme.
Portfolios which have been awarded distinctions by other societies may not be entered.
Model Release for Portraits Required
The entrant to this PSA activity must forward a signed Model Release to the portfolios chair with his/her entry for every portrait image, including all the recognizable likenesses of a human face, which were not taken in a public location. The entrant and model agree to hold PSA harmless against all claims and liabilities arising out of PSA’s publication, display, or other use of any portrait image submitted to PSA. Award images will be posted on the PSA website and selected images may be published in the PSA Journal and/or Division Newsletters.
For those who do not have a Model Release, a sample Model Release Form is linked here.
A Portfolio needs to be cohesive, consistent, balanced, and have symmetry. In addition to the 10/15/20 images it must include an Overview Image which provides the overall layout to view the Portfolio. Images in a Print Overview Image must include any matting used.
The author’s name, camera or lens information, other personal information, logo, any identifying mark or the title of the Portfolio may not appear anywhere in the Statement of Intent, on the Overview Image or on any of the individual images.
See also: » How and What to Submit (doc) - Please consult this very important document with all the information you need to apply.
Projected Digital Images - maximum of 1920px width x 1080px height. Either the vertical height (1080px) or the horizontal width (1920px) must be exact. Maximum file size 2mb.
Prints - home processed only - The long dimension of the image area of any print submitted shall be no less than 11.5" (292 mm) and no prints shall be no larger than 16” (406 mm) x 20” (508 mm) including mount and any matting.
Digital 3D Images - For individual 3D images, the stereo image should be created side-by-side, left-right, up to a combined size of 3840 x 1080 pixels.
» Instructions on how to submit prints (doc) (updated December 2018) - Please consult this very important document to find out all the requirements for submitting prints. - Please consult this very important document to find out all the requirements for submitting prints.
» Instructions on how to submit digital 3D images - (Updated December 2018) - Please consult this very important document to find out all the requirements for submitting digital 3D images.
While sensor-based calibration is essential for consistent evaluation of images, some systems are accurate with color, but not accurate with brightness. Calibration information and sample images can be downloaded from http://www.photovaultonline.com/photovault/index.php?r=site/calibration and used for adjusting the brightness of the device you will be using to prepare the images for your portfolio.
Entry is a two-step process. The following two steps are linked to the appropriate webpage:
All applications must be submitted online. In the case of Print and digital 3D applications these online images are for admin purposes only and will not be used for assessment.
In the case of prints the uploaded images must include any matting used.
The assessment process is meant as an educational one, not a “competition," and is completed by a panel of five rotating assessors, led by a non-voting chairperson.
Portfolios are judged anonymously.
Each assessment begins with the viewing of the Overview Image while the Statement of Intent is read out. The individual images are then viewed.
The process is then repeated and the assessors start by determining whether or not the portfolio presented is cohesive and reflects the Statement of Intent. Assessment is done by individual scoring and by discussion.
Each image is then assessed individually, once again by individual scoring and by discussion, for technical quality and visual awareness.
The Overview Image/Statement of Intent as well as the individual images are each scored as either in or out by the assessors and a percentage is given for each - a minimum of 60% i.e. an "in" score from the majority of the assessors for each is required for success. The Overview Image as well as all the individual images must all achieve 60% or higher in order for the portfolio to succeed.
An email will be sent to each applicant approximately 1 month after the assessment session advising their results.
Successful Portfolios will be shown on the website and may also be showcased at the next PSA Conference. Those with more than one successful portfolio will only feature their most recent portfolio. Portfolios may also be included in training programs.
Certificates and pins will be mailed to the successful applicants after the assessment. Successful applicants may also be listed in Conference program materials or in an insert, provided their information is received in time for publication.
In the case of applicants who were not successful details will be given as to which images the assessors felt were of the required standard and which were not. A brief comment will be given regarding each unsuccessful image. Applicants who wish to receive further feedback may contact the portfolio chair, who may refer the applicant to one of the assessors of that portfolio.
Any applicant whose portfolio has up to four failed images (including the overview image) is entitled to a resubmit. Applicants will be contacted immediately after the assessment session and asked to supply additional images for assessment if they wish to exercise their right to resubmit.
This immediate resubmit will be done for a fee of $40, regardless of the Bronze, Silver or Gold level or the number of resubmitted images. These applicants may resubmit that same portfolio replacing the image/s and providing a new Overview Image at the date of the assessment of the resubmit. Usually, that will be within 30 to 35 days after the notice of the right to resubmit. Application must once again be done online - in the section that is listed as "Resubmits Only" and only the additional images plus a new Overview Image will be able to be uploaded.
Unsuccessful applicants who were not offered an official "resubmission" may try again during the next submission period. If they wish, they may submit the previously successful images as part of a reworked portfolio but there is no guarantee that their previously successful images will be accepted by a new panel of assessors.
These portfolios are not eligible for a discount when sent subsequent times.
Putting a Portfolio together in order to apply for a Portfolio Distinction is not just a matter of selecting your favorite images, however good they are. The most successful portfolios were planned and photographed as a unit with a consistent style and this was evident right from the start i.e from the moment the Overview Image was projected and the Statement of Intent read.
It was apparent during the assessment session that many applicants did not fully understand the concept of the Overview Image or the Statement of Intent. A number of articles have been written and should be taken into consideration when preparing your application. This brief article highlights those problems which were most apparent at this assessment session.
It is important to understand that the Overview Image is the first image that the assessors see and at the same time they listen to your Statement of Intent so it is important that you make a good first impression. Any of the problems described below can detract from that first impression.
Composition: - Inadequate use of space (Poor use of available/allowed space)
Once you have created your Overview Image have a look at it as a whole – what do you see? In the example below what is immediately apparent is that the background colour, even though it is a neutral grey, is far more dominant than the individual images.
The rule was that the horizontal axis should be 1400 px but no minimum size was required for the vertical axis – therefore a very simple solution in this overview Image would be to move the rows closer together and to crop both top and bottom, thus making a much better use of space.
In this second example not only is there extra space that could be cropped out, as mentioned above, but the individual images are very small and could easily have been made larger thus using the available space more effectively.
Background too bright
The density of your background, or how dark or light it should be, depends on your images and should be selected to make them stand out from the background. This is why a white background could work well for one portfolio and a neutral grey might be considered too bright for another. Whatever background you choose it should not overpower your images.
Inconsistent Aspect Ratio
Each individual image in your Overview Image should be the same aspect ratio as it is in your actual portfolio. In other words you should not change the shape of an image in your overview image to make it fit more pleasingly into the overview image.
If you want to change the shape then you should also do so with the actual image in your portfolio so that the aspect ratios remain the same. You should consider this when creating your portfolio and choose a different image if it does not fit effectively in your portfolio.
The order of the images in your Overview Image should be the same as in your portfolio. Remember that when you upload your individual images you must check to make sure that they are in the correct order and resort them if necessary.
You should also not flip i.e. turn your images around, to make them fit the overview image. You can of course flip them (provided there is no writing on them) but if you do so the orientation must be the same in both the overview image and the portfolio.
Consistency of mats and strokes
While it is recommended that you use effects such as strokes and shadows in your overview image to make the images stand out from the background these should be done on the outside of your images and should not detract. Furthermore any borders that you do want to use in your portfolio images should be consistent. If you have large mats or strokes on your actual images, be they prints or digital, this should be shown in your overview image.
Lacking Colour and/or Visual Flow
A portfolio is not just a selection of your favorite images, it is a body of work that has cohesion and each image must work together. Colours must flow from one to the next and should not stand out as being out of place.
The central vertical image at the bottom does not fit very well in the portfolio. While it might have been taken in the same area no dune is showing and the Colour does not balance - however much you like that particular image you would be better off replacing it.
The same is true of the subject matter within the image - pay attention to which direction the subject is moving and balance these within your overview image. You should move the images around in your overview image, seeing which positioning is more effective visually.
Statement of Intent
Hand in hand with the Overview Image is the Statement of Intent. While we do allow for 75 words there is no need to use all 75 words. If you can say what you want to say in fewer words, do so. What the assessors want is a brief outline of your portfolio. Leave out all the extraneous information. The assessors only need to know what is relevant to your images.
Be sure that your title and your statement of intent match each other and that the images in your portfolio match the title and statement of intent. Your statement of intent sets the expectations of the assesssors. If you tell the assessors in your title and Statement of Intent that they are going to see a certain subject, be sure that that is exactly what they are going to see.
Applying for and achieving your Portfolio Distinction is something worth working for so do take care with your application. Make sure borders are consistent, your images are clean and there are no dust spots.