This Local Photographer’s Work Goes to International Exhibition!

Press Release

Photographs created by Susan Wacht Goralski of GeminEye Images in New Hartford have recently been accepted into the Loan  and General Collections of Professional Photographers of America’s 2013 International Photographic Competition. Wacht-Goralski’s work will be on display at the Phoenix Convention Center January 12-14, 2014, in Phoenix, Ariz. This International Photographic Exhibition is held in conjunction with Imaging USA, an annual convention and expo for professional photographers and several photographic associations.

A panel of 43 eminent jurors from across the United States selected the top photographs from nearly 5,000 total submitted entries at Gwinnett Technical College in Georgia. Judged against a standard of excellence, just over 1,800 images were selected for the General Collection and 682 (roughly 7 percent) were selected for the esteemed Loan Collection—the best of the best. The Loan Collection images will all be published in the much-anticipated “Loan Collection” book, and over 200 selected General Collection images will be published in the “Showcase” book by Marathon Press.

Titled “All Hung Up” and “Waiting to Exhale”, Wacht-Goralski’s photographs, one of antique outboard motors and another of a sunflower about to open, will be in the International Photographic Exhibition alongside other top photographic works from the competition and traveling and special invitational displays. These images constitute one of the world’s largest annual exhibits of professional photography gathered simultaneously under one roof.


“All Hung Up”   copyright 2013 GeminEye Images

In the photography industry since 1998, Wacht-Goralski has had numerous images published in local and regional tourism brochures and magazines. She has been a member of PPA and Connecticut Professional Photographer’s Association (CTPPA) for over 6 years. Both of her images, “All Hung Up” and “Waiting to Exhale” received blue ribbon merit Awards of Excellence at the recent CTPPA annual state convention held in March of 2013. “All Hung Up” received a 3rd Place ribbon in the Art/Electronic Imaging Category. “Waiting to Exhale” was honored with a Judge’s Award and the Lenzart Award for most creative in its category as well as a 3rd Place ribbon in the Unclassified/Creative Category.  Wacht-Goralski just recently donated a 30″x40″ canvas gallery print of “Waiting to Exhale” to benefit the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective’s One Big Event on Oct. 26th in Hartford, CT.

Competition Print Time for Connecticut Professional Photographers Association

It was that time of year again….annual Print Competition for Connecticut Professional Photographers Association. It comes along usually in February or March. This year it was on March 15th at the Hartford-Windsor Marriott.  The print judges included Ella Carlson, Jack Holowitz, Steve Bedell, Bernie Littlefield, Nylora Bruleigh, Diane Miller and Joan Genest as print chairperson.

Print competition is always a fingernail biting kind of experience. There is so much riding on the panel of judges. How many women vs men will be on the panel? Will it make a difference in how the numbers fall? Will they appreciate floral still life’s? Will they enjoy seeing lots of wedding images? Will they prefer more traditional poses or perhaps embrace a more contemporary style? Will they understand the Art/Electronic Imaging category and give points for creativity and the hours of work that might have gone into creating such an image? Or the ultimate, burning question…the only one that counts at the end of the day…..Will they/Did they like my image?

I consider myself fortunate this year, having received three “deserving of a merit” blue ribbons and three “above average” red ribbons. In addition, I was surprised and elated to receive a “Judge’s Award” from Steve Bedell for my “Waiting to Exhale” image of a sunflower yet to bloom. That same image was also selected for the Lenzart Award for Most Creative in its’ category as well as taking a third place ribbon in the Classified Category.  The awards were well beyond my expectations and I am humbled and grateful that the judges awarded my image in so many ways.


My other two blue ribbon winners were “All Hung Up”, an HDR (High Dynamic Range) composite of antique motor boat engines hanging on a wall, which received Second Place honors in the Art/EI category, and “Floral Origami”, of a tulip opening.



My additional three images in the red ribbon category are titled: “Head’s Up”, an HDR image of a field of sunflowers; “Opening Day”, a peony in bloom; and “Siren Sea”, a portrait of a young woman and her reflection.

At the end of the day, I was able to answer that burning question (Did the judges like my images?) with a resounding “YES!”  Does that mean I can rest on my laurels?  Not even close!  There is so much more to learn and still higher scores to earn. But for a few moments, I could breathe easily and happily knowing I had pushed myself and in doing so, had received the most blue ribbons and awards I have to date.




 I will continue to enter print competitions searching for the Holy Grail….first to place all 6 in the blue merit category and then to score a perfect 100 on at least one image. Kudos to those photographers who have scored 100 on each of four of their entered prints in the National and International Print Competitions where only four entries are allowed.   I don’t know if I will ever reach such lofty goals but if I sit on the sidelines, I’ll never know.

All images copyright 2013 GeminEye Images.



The Stars in the Universe

Sometimes the stars in the Universe line up and everything falls into place.  Other times, it seems like what can go wrong will.  The what-can-go-wrong will go wrong part started for me last July when I was walking my neighbors’ dogs to get into shape for my upcoming nuptials.  I tripped in a pothole and fell to the ground, hard, breaking my hip. Long story short, I am now sporting three lovely stainless steel pins in it. Can’t wait to go through airport security later this year!


As I was finishing up with my hip rehabilitation therapy, thinking I could get back to the world of the living, my intestines flared up and I landed in the hospital for a lovely ten days, after which I was confined to the house for another ten.


That was my world from mid July until the end of November of 2010.  It has only been in the last few weeks that I’ve been able to say “I feel good”, and mean it, to anyone who inquired.


So here we are in March of 2011, and not only am I feeling pretty good in spite of the medical conditions that will always be with me, but things are looking up photographically as well.  After an eight photographic month hiatus, that pleases me immensely.


The Connecticut Professional Photographers Association (CTPPA) has had two print competitions in the last two months: a local one, where two of four of my images received blue ribbons while the other two scored red ribbons; followed by the state competition, which was held this past weekend (March 11-14, 2011) where I received five red ribbons and one white ribbon for the six images submitted.  Judging was extremely tough on the state level and I learned a great deal by attending the print critique the following day.  The convention was four days filled with top notch presenters who put themselves out there one hundred plus percent.  Seth Resnick,  Jim Lersch, Justin & Mary Marantz, Zack & Jody Gray, and my personal favorite, Jasmine Star, made the hours fly by all the while ratcheting up the creativity in our minds.  We gained a wealth of information from these terrific speakers.


On Sunday night, CTPPA hosted their Awards Banquet. I was honored when I found I was tied with an amazing photographer, Paulette Mertes, for CTPPA’s Photographer of the Year in the Art/Electronic Imaging category. Paulette’s work is just outstanding. Art/EI, as it is referred to, is a category where your final image has been greatly manipulated from its original form. I have been working quite a bit with multiple exposures of images, which evolve into high dynamic range (HDR) images that I tweak to obtain a highly illustrative look. I am also dipping my toes into the realm of conceptual work as is shown below in my print “Not in Kansas Anymore”.


I am elated to have received recognition from my peers with the 2011 CTPPPA Photographer of the Year award in this category and am excited to continue stretching myself through my photographic imagery.  Thank you CTPPA for pushing me to new heights.


In this photo: CTCPPA Photographers Paulette Mertes, Marietta St. Onge, and Susan Wacht. Photo by Richard Esposito


"Not in Kansas Anymore" copyright Susan wacht, GeminEye Images



Digital Print Competition

Last night was amazing. The Connecticut Professional Photographers Association (CPPA) broke new ground when they held their first Digital Print Competition. Maybe this doesn’t sound like much to most of you, but to us photographers it was a really big deal.

I consider myself a ‘newbie’ when it comes to CPPA and Print Competitions.  I dipped my toes into the competition pool for the first time this past February at the annual convention, which was probably akin to throwing one’s self to the wolves. I had waited and watched for a year before taking the plunge and was rewarded with three red ribbons:  blue is best, red follows blue, trailed by white, while ‘corners’ form the base of the awards tier. At last night’s competition, I received my first merit point for my image, No One Will Miss Me.

And, last night, through the hard efforts of two dedicated photographers, Mark Brendel and Ralph Rookey, CPPA’s first Digital Print Competition came to pass. These two men worked tirelessly for months to bring this event to fruition. Kudos for a job well done! Thanks must also go to the three judges for the evening, Mark Allan, Marie Curtis, and Rene Genest, who ventured where no other Connecticut judge has gone. The constructive criticism they voiced about the process was thoughtful and insightful.

As always, the process of judging is a learning experience for the viewer. In my opinion, the digital format did not radically alter the exchange of knowledge.  In fact, the judges seemed a bit more inclined to elaborate more explicitly about some of the images as they were viewed. This is incredibly helpful to those of us attempting to produce a merit print.

Are there subtle differences in viewing black and white images in print vs onscreen? Absolutely. Do the digital files sizes vary for horizontal vs. vertical? Currently? Yes. Should compromises be made, or should these differences keep prints from being viewed digitally during quarterly competitions?

Personally, this photographer hopes the digital format will continue for the Quarterly Print Competitions. Unquestionably, actual prints should continue to be viewed and judged at the annual competitions held during our convention. Although there are definite benefits to having an actual print in front of you (lit to competition viewing perfection), it makes more sense to go the digital route in these economic times. Are there kinks that need to be worked out? Certainly. Especially given that it was our first digital experience.  I’ve no doubt that Mark and Ralph will continue on their quest to make digital competition the best that it can be for all of us at CPPA. In this age of technology, we should be proud to be paving the road in digital print competitions. In a perfect world, there would have been one viewing monitor for each of the judges’ vs. one for three. Maybe if enough folks enter these competitions, the financial Gods will make that a future reality.   Way to go, guys!

No One Will Miss Me
No One Will Miss Me