Monthly Program


Paul Bernstein and Caryn Benjamin present:

How to Get That Merit Image


Caryn Benjamin, M.Photog, Cr.

Paul Bernstein, M.Photog, Cr., CPP

Image competition can be a challenge for even an experienced photographer. What factors go into the creation of a merit image? Is it technically good enough? Does it have that “Wow” factor to make it stand out from other entries? Will it make viewers know the maker is a true artist? Does it tell a story to impress the judging panel? What do the judges look for and on what do they base their scoring?

Paul and Caryn are both experienced photographers who have also successfully entered numerous image competitions as participants. In addition, Paul is a PPA trained judge who has served on many jury panels at both the local and state levels. They will take you through the process of selecting the appropriate “WOW” image for competition, enhancing it in post-production, creating a professional presentation and finally selecting that perfect title to put your entry over the top. Learn the techniques and procedures that you can apply to increase the odds of scoring 80 or above at the next image competition, plus increase your photographic skills, which will enable you to create better art for yourself, as well as higher quality and more profitable work for your clients.


Paul Bernstein and Caryn Benjamin live and work out of their Victorian brownstone in the Park Slope Historic District of Brooklyn, NY. They own and operate three separate divisions of their business: Paul Bernstein Photography for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, family portraits and commercial photography; Caryn Benjamin Images for weddings, maternity, newborn, boudoir and artwork; and Marriage Equality Photography, which emphasizes their commitment to the LGBT community. For many years they have lectured and presented their innovative ideas to groups of professional photographers around the country. Paul and Caryn have presented “Contemporary Photography: Moving Beyond Gender Stereotypes” and just recently Paul lectured at several PPSNYS sections on the topic “Seeing The Light”. In 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, they were both honored by Professional Photographers of America as PPA “Photographers of the Year”.

Paul has been a professional photographer for over forty years, during which time he has photographed 2500 social events and countless portrait sessions. He is a master of lighting and posing, as well as candid photography. He is certified by the Professional Photographers of America and holds both Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degrees from PPA. In 2014, Paul was greatly honored to become the NY State recipient of the PPA National Award. He was the 2015-2016 president of the Professional Photographers Society of New York State, former two time president of the Professional Photographers of Greater New York, plus a member of the Professional Photographers of America council from 2004 to 2018. At PPSNYS print and image competitions over the past 25 years, Paul has received the high print case award, seven 320 pins, a dozen Courts of Honor, seven Fuji Masterpiece Awards and has had the highest scoring album on nine occasions, one of which gained a Kodak Gallery. Paul is also an experienced PPA trained image competition judge and has served on numerous panels at the local and state level, as well as jury chair for the PPSNYS, PPANJ and PNE state conventions.

Caryn has been working as a photojournalist since 1999, and as an exceptional Photoshop artisan, also does all of their studio’s retouching and album design. She holds both Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degrees from PPA. As an artist, Caryn creates paintings and graphic designs based on her own style of studio portraiture. She is inspired by artists such as Matisse and Rousseau as well as the beauty she sees in people in all aspects of their lives, and loves working with clients who have offbeat creative visions of their own. She has written and designed a children’s book, Waiting for Baby J, based on images she and Paul had created for clients expecting their third child. Entered into competition as a dual-maker album, the book was awarded a blue ribbon at both the state and national level.

Besides her work as a photographer and artist, Caryn is also a teacher of the Deaf and hard of hearing. Both Paul and Caryn are at ease with children, adults and families that face a variety of challenges.