Every year the Virginia Professional Photographers Association (VPPA) holds an image competition in which photographers throughout the state (and beyond) enter their best images in the hopes of having them judged to be at a standard of professional excellence. 

This standard of excellence—known as a “merit image”—is not easy to achieve,  The image must not only have impact, it must also demonstrate a mastery of lighting, posing, composition, attention to the smallest detail, and other defined standards.  Five judges evaluate 12 elements of each photo.

Images that stand out may be selected for the prestigious Commonwealth Collection or win other coveted awards.

The Professional Photographers of America also holds an annual International Print Competition.  Images go through the same stringent judging process, but the entries come from far and wide. Every photographer hopes to be honored with the selection of one or more of their images for the elite Image Excellence Collection and to have images proceed through multiple levels of competition.  

The photos in this gallery are the results from those competitions.