We are proud to announce that our founder and CEO, Kelly Settle, is a gold medalist!


Kelly was awarded this designation at the 2020 International Photographic Competition, hosted by the Professional Photographers of America – a trade association she’s been a member of for over ten years.


“I have always been in awe of the work my fellow professional photographers have created for this competition,” Kelly said. “Seeing their stellar images on display and in print has always been so inspiring.”


Kelly decided to “jump in” and join her peers after completing the Certified Professional Photographer exam last year, and setting her sights on a Master’s of Photography from PPA. According to the association’s website, a master’s is awarded to photographers that show their superior skills through the Photographic Open category of PPA’s International Photographic Competition, advanced education, and service to the industry.


More than 5,000 total entries were submitted for IPC this year. Being a Gold Medalist means that two of Kelly’s four merited photos were selected for the esteemed “best of the best” Loan Collection – of which only 17 percent of all submissions made the cut!


“I chose images that were impactful and I felt showed my skill and passion as a commercial photographer,” Kelly said. “Each of these images are from actual client work with just a touch of refining for competition.”


Professional commercial photograph beer bottle studio beverage photography
Portrait of a porter



Front elevation architecture modern home twilight commercial photography
Twilight at 326

This year, the judging was held publicly over a six-day livestream. In round one, the panel of judges stacked submitted images against the 12 Elements of a Merit Image:

  1. Impact 
  2. Technical Excellence
  3. Creativity
  4. Style
  5. Composition
  6. Presentation
  7. Color Balance
  8. Center of Interest
  9. Lighting
  10. Subject Matter
  11. Technique
  12. Storytelling

Those that met the criteria went on to a second round of judging, followed by final selections.


“It was nerve-wracking, watching and listening to my images be judged,” Kelly said. “Initially, one of my photos didn’t receive a merit! But this was ‘challenged’ by one of the judges who felt strongly that it was merit worthy and argued the reasons why he felt it deserved a rescore. The panel then discussed the image in detail before awarding it a merit.”




award image industrial manufacturing machine production commercial photograph
Mass Production


product photograph blue motorcycle commercial photography studio
Cure for the blues

The judges honored just 60 photographers as gold medalists this year.


“Competition helps photographers push themselves to be better year after year and become more creative, artistic, and inventive,” Kelly said. “Entering IPC will help you build on your best pieces, and elevate the quality of your work.”


Kelly’s work will be on display at the upcoming Imaging USA convention and expo, held virtually January 17-19, 2021. Her Loan Collection images will also be published in the much-anticipated “Loan Collection” book by Marathon Press. 


Help us celebrate Kelly by sharing this article, or sending your well wishes and inquiries to kellyannphotos@mac.com