Still trying to get over the shock… 🙂  This year’s scores from 2010 International Print Competition have come out.

I don’t know if you remember any of my posts on print-comp in the past, but here’s generally how it works:  You first buy a semi-expensive (approved) print-case, and then agonize for months over which 4 prints you’ll be entering.  Then, about 2 weeks before the case deadline, you get 4 rush prints from your lab, stick labels on the backs, and rush to the post office to pay the overnight delivery charge you could have avoided if you’d just picked your prints earlier in the first place.  OR, if you’re really lucky, you went through this for Regional Print Competition, you already have your seals, and you can just re-ship the same case to Nationals.  Then you kind of forget about your case until the week before print-judging, and agonize over “when will the list be out!?” for the next 2 weeks.  In a perfect world.

Well, this year, that didn’t play out quite as I hoped.  (And I already admitted I would be doing it the last minute – you can see already… aiming pretty low here!)  Back in February, I ordered my 4 prints (that were, surprisingly enough, firmly decided upon months ago.)  Two came in perfectly, one came in on the wrong paper, and one had a Photoshop problem that needed to be fixed.  The replacement of the one on the wrong paper came in almost immediately… but there was some waiting involved for that 4th print.  And more waiting.  And more waiting…  APO mail is slow, indeed.

So it finally comes in, and I rush to PosteItaliane (or as I prefer to call it, “Hell”) over at Termini.  First mistake.  When will I learn, oh stupid American I am, that nothing in Italy is a “rush”…  I realize when I get there that I didn’t put my print labels on, so I run around Stazione Termini trying to find a roll of tape.  Not an easy word to translate, and the hand-gestures I was making to simulate “tape” was apparently an obscene one… so yeah… the word for “tape” is, apparently, “striscia” – which will save you from making rude gestures to shop clerks.  I go back to Hell, I take my number, and wait in line.  For an hour and a half.

FINALLY my number comes up.  Turns out I waited that last 1.5 hours in the line to pay bills.  Wrong line, can’t help me.  I take another number.  And wait some more – another hour and a half to be exact.

Then I find out, Hell can’t ship a print case.  It needs to be wrapped because of the exterior strapping.  In plastica dura.  Oh, don’t know what plastica dura is?  Yeah, join the club.  All I could make out was “go to grocery store – ask there.”  Now, not sure if you’ve ever experienced Italian customer service – but let’s just say it makes the DMV look like a fun afternoon.  After going into this same store 3 different times (and literally leaving in tears – seriously, the manager pointed and laughed at me for trying to “mail a package” there)… I finally figured out that plastica dura is, in fact, SaranWrap.  Of course it is – why wouldn’t the post office want me to make my print case freezer fresh?!  (Don’t ever go to Despar in Termini – they’re very mean!)

€100, and the promise of 3-day delivery later… I was finally able to leave Hell.  Dropped a message to Regional Print Competition to let them know to expect my case, and verified 5 days later.  Nope, never got there.  The tracking number that Hell uses to locate a package apparently doesn’t work overseas.  Why?  Because (get this stroke of genius…) the tracking number changes once it leaves Italy.  Smart, right?  So to this day, that first case is still missing.

Well, then I realize that I will need 4 new prints for Nationals – deadline is fast-approaching.  Except, my print case is missing, and I wouldn’t have any time to get the images to Italy and then out to the competition. *IDEA!*  Last year’s case had come back to my parents’ house, and I told them to just leave it there.  So – while I don’t advise this method… I called my lab and begged them to use some extra love and care while printing a second set of competition prints, and then drop-ship them to my parents.  (This alone makes me LOVE BayPhoto and if you don’t have a lab yet – you need to use them!)  I forwarded the labels and forms to my dad, and drew up some PDF’s on case assembly.  He mailed the prints I never got to see.  🙂

Apparently, it all worked out…  Still in shock though… All 4 prints not only merited, but were accepted into the Loan Collection!  One of only 7 photographers internationally this year (and that list is some very good company!)  The title for 4 prints “going Loan” is “Diamond Photographer of the Year” (which explains that new line on my gmail signature.) – HUGE honor.  Extremely excited.  And if I need to go through PosteItaliane again for this next year… Consider it done!

“Looking Up” – hairless rat owned by Andrea R. of Virginia

“Grey and Balding” – Sphynx owned by Kristi K. of Virginia

“Look Who We’ve Got Our Hanes on Now” – Papillions and Golden Retriever owned by Sarah S. of Virginia

“Healthcode Violation” – hooded rat owned by Andrea R. of Virginia

<img class=”aligncenter” title=”Looking Up” src=”http://stephaniemillner.com/images/5124643_looking_up.jpg” alt=”” width=”738″ height=”922″ /></p>