Last week I judged the Canadian Geographic / Parks Canada Photo Contest.
It took much of the day to choose the winners. About 4000 entries had been sifted to produce a short list of a little under three hundred.
My two co-judges – Creative Director Suzanne Morin and Parks Canada’s Daniel Rosset – and I were to select the top ten in each category and, yikes, then choose the winners.
Reducing the photos to the top ten was not as hard as selecting the top picks. Below are details to improve your chances of winning a photo contest:
- Use a low ISO – 100 is ideal. 400 on most cameras is ok. Low ISO will produce cleaner photos with less noise or grain texture to the photo.
- For landscapes use a tripod… period.
- Get closer to your subject. I cannot stress this enough. So many entries are dismissed because the main part of the photo is sooooo far away. Get closer!!
- Simplify. Keep your photos clean. Messy backgrounds or lack of a focal point will make judges ask “what is the photo about?!” and quickly say “Next photo!”
- Create a strong primary focal point. Make it obvious what the photo is about.
- Submit well exposed photos. Auto settings can cause problems in some scenarios. Manual mode can be fooled by light or dark subjects. Learn to expose for the main subject.
- Keep photos sharp in the right places using both focus and shutter speed.
- Have fun! If you enjoy what you are shooting it’ll show in your photos.
Need more info? Read how to get your photos noticed.
The photo contest winners are announced in the spring.Good luck in photo contests!