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This year's photographic competitions through PPA is finished. Valerie competes every year to improve her craft as she works towards the degrees offered through Professional Photographers of America. This is a juried competition where each photograph is judged based on the 12 elements of a Merit Image. While there are awards for the best of the best, this is a good example of competing against one's self. To be better than the last time.

Valerie entered four images at the Southwest District Level and two were deemed worthy of merit and these were then sent on to the next level. Of these two one portrait, "Bear Hug", that was among the Top Ten Children's Portraits coming out of District. These two images were sealed and did not have to be judged a second time at IPC level for merit, but were reviewed again for the Imaging Excellence Collection as well as the Showcase Book.

Of those four images that were submitted, two were accepted into the Merit Collection. One image, "My Heart is Full", was also selected into the Image Excellence Collection, and will be published in this year's Excellence Collection Book. "Little Boy Blue" was selected to be published in this year's Showcase Book.

A panel of 36 eminent jurors from across the United States selected the top photographs from over 5,000 total submitted entries at PPA headquarters in Atlanta. Judged against a standard of excellence, 1,926 images were selected for the Merit Collection and 1,225 (roughly 24 percent) were selected for the esteemed Imaging Excellence Collection—the best of the best.

Valerie Steinkoenig has now earned enough merits through continuing education and photographic competition to eligible to receive the Master of Photography designation from PPA. This will be awarded at the annual Professional Photographer's of America annual conference, Imaging USA located in National Harbor, MD.

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