What do judges look for in a photography contest?

July 5th, 2019 | by Techgoondu
What do judges look for in a photography contest?
Imaging
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Brought to you by Huawei

So you’ve just got your fancy new smartphone or camera and gone out to capture some of the most memorable moments. Now, you wish to enter them for a photography contest.

Wait, not so fast. Besides having a great shot, you should also weigh the other considerations that go into a winning photograph. Understanding the theme, for example, is key.

Before even attempting to shoot, understand what the judges are looking for. Check out their portfolio to see what genre of photography they are into and that will inform your decision making process on how to select photos for the competition. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

Here are some important pointers to consider:

Understand the theme and rules

You may have the perfect picture but does it match up to the theme or themes of the competition? When it comes down to the wire between two photos, usually the one that adheres more closely to the theme will edge ahead. So, do ponder which theme is best suited for your photo.

Some photos run afoul of the rules simply because the photographer has over-edited or added elements to the images that were simply not there in the first place. You should usually only touch up basics like bright and contrast, for example.

A train station in Japan where numerous people wait on its platform to continue their journey. Who are these people? Where are they going? Use your photos to create that sense of mystery. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

Use interesting composition

The reason why some photos catch the attention of the judges is the use of composition or framing. Basic rules here include not placing the subject right in the centre and shooting in an unflattering light.

Use other composition elements such as symmetry, leading lines, geometric shapes, light source, shadows and silhouette to lend interest to your images. Think out of the box, pardon the pun.

“Story-telling” is such a loaded phrase so it does overwhelm. It is not as simple as shooting a landscape or a portrait picture but done right, it gives the viewer a sense of what is going on. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

Story telling

Besides having good composition, what the image says is also a good indicator of its quality. What does the image lead the viewer to see, to feel and to infer?

Iconic shots by the masters in this craft have this uncanny ability to elicit emotion and wonder. In other words, what story does it tell? Is it about the vibrancy of a night market? The joy of living in a garden city?

Get the basics right

It’s quite often that an image is taken at the right place and time but gets let down by simple things such as a lack of good focusing and correct exposure. In other words, not sharp or bright enough.

To get anywhere, you have to stay rooted by getting the basics rights. So, keep your image simple, avoid distracting elements such as busy backgrounds and make sure it keeps to the theme.

Find different perspectives to a common scene. Sometimes you need to get dirty by getting down or even laying flat on the ground but the reward is totally worth it. PHOTO: Wilson Wong.

Go the extra mile

Good photos are usually the result of meticulous planning and sacrifice. Sunrise and sunset shots are achieved often by sacrificing sleep and dinner.

Get down on your knees or lay flat on the floor to get a different perspective of things. When you do things that others are not willing to do, the images often show the dedication.

Be sensitive to your surroundings

Some of the best photos are just there for the taking but it takes a photographer to see the unusual from the usual, the special from the normal. Know when things are not the same and capture it.

Faces are one example. You don’t have to be looking at thousands of faces in your lifetime to spot the interesting expressions but experience tells you when to snap and capture that fleeting moment.

Do some research

When a competition such as Huawei Next Image has been running for the past few years, there are good references to look to. See what images have captured the judges’ eyes, which will inform you how to shoot for new themes.

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