If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I was quite disappointed and disheartened with proposed changes in WPPI’s Accolades of Excellence program, mainly because of how they affected me and others who had participated heavily and done well in the WPPI’s Online competition (read the full entry here). On the Competition Facebook Group page yesterday, Jerry Ghionis posted that the changes were being finalized, but they wanted to hear any concerns that members may have about those changes.  I took the opportunity to cut and paste my blog post from 10/22 as a response to that call.

About 40 minutes later, my phone rang. I looked down to see it was a call from Beverly Hills, California. When I answered, an Aussie accent greeted me. It was, in fact, Jerry Ghionis calling to speak to me about my concerns.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Jerry Ghionis is a highly successful wedding and portrait photographer. His work and his ability to teach are well-respected in the photography community, and he is now one of three people who are heading up the Honors of Excellence program for WPPI.

I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with Jerry. We discussed all of the things I liked about the program and all of my concerns about the transition and changes to scoring.  While we didn’t agree on everything we talked about (who ever really does?), it was apparent that he truly wanted to hear my concerns and speak directly to the issues I brought up.

When we hung up, not much had changed. There was still a special rule in place for the transition of points from Online Competition to the new Honors program – a rule that blocked ANY points from being transferred to the new program. In other words, regardless of achievement, no points from Online Competition would count toward the new program.

I call this a special rule because in the future (under the new rules), a first, second or third place finish in Online Competition garners one point in the Honors program, and a member can add a maximum of two points to his Honors total each year for placed finishes in the Online Competition. The new rules didn’t apply to old Online finishes.

I am happy to report, however, that late last evening, Jerry announced that in transition, the new rules would apply as written. In other words, first, second or third place finishes in Online Competition that happened between 2002 and the present will count toward the Honors program just as they will in the future (one point per placed finish for a max of 2 points from placed finishes per year).  That’s good news, and what I consider a fair compromise.

I must commend Jerry Ghionis, his wife Melissa, and Jason Groupp. They showed me yesterday how an organization that is truly in tune with their membership should act. They not only treated my concerns with respect, they chose to speak to me about them personally. That’s something that doesn’t happen very often these days, and I appreciate that. I also appreciate that the folks that head up this program are photographers that recognize passion and dedication to the art and to the organization. They’re not just pencil pushers looking to make a buck on the backs of the people in the industry. They took the time to hear and speak to the concerns of one member – me – and based around that conversation created a compromise that I believe will better the program and satisfy most everyone involved.

Hats off to WPPI for selecting these kind of people to head up this kind of program and changes. You truly had your membership in mind when you did.

Legendary moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton was the subject for Andy Armstrong's first place finish in the Portrait Individual category of the WPPI Online Competition.

Legendary moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton was the subject for Andy Armstrong’s first place finish in the Portrait Individual category of the WPPI Online Competition.