Laughing Baby Mountain Gorilla Rwanda Africa

Photographers regularly ask me what the benefits of entering photography competitions are. In this article I am giving advice which will help you achieve better results, as well as some common errors people make.

Set Subjects

One of the great benefits of entering photography competitions is that it gives you a ‘challenge’ to work towards, which can be quite exciting. Being given a set subject and then going out with your camera to shoot that particular subject, makes you think carefully about how you would best tackle it. I always say to photographers to ‘think outside the box’ and definitely don’t copy last year’s winners, as it has already been done!

I have judged numerous photography competitions over the past 15 or so years and to me, it’s not just the images that are technically well-executed that will win the awards. Sure, this is a good starting point but the images need to have that ‘something extra’, especially when you are judging a huge number of images.

I am regularly surprised as to the number of images entered that are out of focus. Unless you are trying to capture a certain arty effect with your image, if it’s not sharp it will automatically be rejected in the first round. Carefully critque at each image before you enter.

Think Outside the Box

In the portrait section of a wildlife photography competition, there may be 20+ well-exposed and sharp images, that make it to the final round of judging. How do you choose which one is the standout? One of the 20 or so images may have been photographed with backlighting or the subject may be looking directly at you with a certain expression – this is what makes the image stand out.

Study Wildlife Behaviour

For wildlife behaviour categories, the winning image(s) are often a split-second moment captured perfectly and often one that is rarely seen. To capture images such as this, I suggest you study the individual’s (or group’s) behaviour beforehand. The animal may perform repetitive behaviour, which you can be primed and ready for. Also, patience is an absolute must if you are wanting to capture a special once-in-lifetime moment that could win you a photo competition.

Ask for Feedback

One problem that many photographers face is knowing which images to enter into a competition. Certain images may have emotive meaning to them personally, but don’t really stand out to a judge. Why not ask a fellow-photographer to critique the images you plan on entering? They can then give you an honest opinion as to which images stand out, and why.

Read the Rules!

An important aspect of entering photography competitions is to READ THE RULES CAREFULLY. You will be surprised at how many great images have been disqualified from competitions, simply because the photographer didn’t read the rules properly.

Read the Fine Print!

Another point worth considering is whether the competition organisers are using your images for commercial gain. This is becoming far more prevalent nowadays and will often be hidden in small print in the ‘Terms and Conditions’ section. Please read these terms carefully before you enter.

Most importantly, if you haven’t entered a photo competition before, get on out there and give it a try! What do you have to lose?

If you have a passion for wildlife, nature or travel photography and would love to go on a small-number, professional photography adventure, please get in touch with Michael Snedic at WildNature Photo Expeditions. You can call him on 0408 941 965 or fill in this Contact Form and he will get back to you ASAP.

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