By Colleen Mahoney

Although she didn’t compete in the Olympics, one Springville business owner did bring home a bronze medal. Emily Robinson, owner of Emily Karr Photography, was awarded one of 97 bronze medals in the Professional Photographers of America’s 2016 International Photographic Competition.

The competition honors and awards photographers on their art and is judged by 46 eminent jurors. Robinson earned a merit — a mark of quality and honor — for each of four photos she submitted in the competition. The submitted images, all of newborns, were taken during portrait sessions at her studio.

Robinson, who specializes in newborns and weddings, as well as families, children and high school seniors, said she doesn’t shoot with the idea that her photos are going to be entered in competitions. But every portrait challenges her, which makes her a better photographer.  Giving her clients the best session possible is what Robinson strives for, and the possibility of using them in competition makes her challenge herself during the shoots.

“I choose all of my client work and all the newborn portraits,” Robinson said. “and it’s hard to control a new baby … but it helps make me better for my clients.”

Robinson said she carefully went through her work before selecting the four photographs she submitted to the competition. In the preliminary competition, the northeast district, one of four didn’t earn a seal so she submitted another photo to the national competition.

“When the fourth image merited … it was a big deal. It’s a great learning experience,” she said. “It’s great to see your peers and people you don’t even know … I learned a lot during the process.”

There were 5,700 entries in the competition this year. Each image is scored on a scale of 1-100, and only those that score 80 or higher can merit. The photos are judged on 12 elements, which include everything from technical aspects to emotional feelings. Lighting, the rule of three, the sharpness of the image and other characteristics are all judged.

All of Robinson’s images are shot and edited by her. She called herself a “purist,” noting that the vision of the photo is hers from the beginning, and she likes to see it through to the end.

“If that makes me controlling … then so be it,” she said. “I just want to handle it all myself, start to finish.”

Robinson entered the competition to help obtain her master’s degree in photography, which requires a certain number of education credits, as well as exhibit credits. Being named a bronze medalist puts Robinson halfway through her exhibit credits; she hopes to complete her degree within two years.

Robinson is already a certified professional photographer and has to be recertified every three to five years. The distinction, according to Robinson, assures that clients can trust her work. It shows she can produce good, quality work in each shot. Robinson is one of fewer than 2,000 certified professional photographers nationwide.

The four images she submitted to the Professional Photographers of America’s 2016 International Photographic Competition will be on display in San Antonio, TX in January 2017.

Emily Karr Photography is located at 84 E. Main St., Springville. She can be reached at (716) 794-3161 or at