Category Archives: Helpful Articles

Choosing Your Winning Image: Tips from Competition Judge Virgil Bunao

Image competition has always been a challenge to me. How are we supposed to choose that ‘winning’ image out of the millions of images we have created in the past!? The very thought of going through all of our past images is both daunting and overwhelming.

So let’s tackle this … Well, how do we eat an elephant (hypothetically speaking)? One bite at a time, right? Right.

Whenever I have a challenging task at hand, I go into a quiet space where I can concentrate. Then I try to stick to the fundamentals:

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0. YOU. ARE. INCREDIBLE. This is line item 0 because it is important for you to know that I admire you taking a big step out of your comfort zone, to improve your craft and get better. Your pursuit of excellence fuels me, moves me and encourages me. Nice job taking the big step.


1. Light and composition. Among the collection of images, which photographs stick out as your favorite? Try not to be emotionally attached to the images you choose. Be objective. Look for images that are well lit and well composed. Often I love images because of how sweet my subjects were, how they were so cooperative and how the weather was so nice. Eliminate all of that, and focus on the basics – light and composition. Whether the light is natural or artificial makes no difference as long as the image is lit well. A well composed image is properly cropped. It is not crooked. And every aspect of the photograph makes sense.

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2. Emotional content. I love images that are full of life and emotion. Laughter and tears are good. But a winning image doesn’t have to have the laughter and tears. A winning image could also have that ‘thing’ that captivates the audience in a more personal way.

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3. Authenticity. A winning image, to me, is not contrived. A winning image to me is authentic. It is real. It is honest. A winning image doesn’t necessarily have to be technically perfect. Real, true, honest images that tell a beautiful story score high in my book.


4. Lines and edges. Make sure nothing is sticking out of people’s heads. Watch your lines and edges. Lines on a photograph, in my opinion, should lead my eye to something even better within the photograph. I look at the edges too, and make sure nothing is out of place.


5. Movement. I love motion. Movement. It gives life to the image. The image doesn’t even need to be tack sharp. A properly lit and composed image that illustrates some form of movement scores high.


6. Seek out other artists. Take fellow photographers, artists, painters, out for a drink, and go over the images that you are considering. Seek their opinions. Some photographers offer portfolio review sessions. Sign up for those. Some photo groups do them for free. Sign up. The more feedback you can get on your images outside of your mother’s dining table, or your Facebook ‘fan club’, the better.


7. Don’t stop. Win or lose, no matter the outcome of the competition, use it as an engine to get you to the next level. Never stop learning. Never stop improving. You didn’t choose this life. This life chose YOU. Be better than last week. Do your research. Follow these, and the other judges’, tips, and win this contest.




View more of Virgil’s stunning portfolio on his website.

Spotlight: How to Take Pictures of Holiday Lights

Lights2Photo Credit | A Beautiful Mess

What’s more beautiful than holiday lights at night? Whether you’re driving through the neighborhood with your family, or walking through the snow with hot chocolate, it’s a magical experience. It’s often so hard to capture the beauty of the lights that you see in person through your camera… so we’ve put together a few tips to take some great shots of this heart-warming holiday tradition.

1. Photograph in the late afternoon/early evening. Shoot when the light is dim, resulting in more vibrant colors and more interesting backgrounds.

2. Be as still as possible – if you have a tripod, don’t be afraid to use it!

3. Make sure your camera settings are optimized for your conditions.

We love these helpful articles: read more tips here, and find out exactly what settings your camera should be at to get the perfect holiday light photo here.

Lights1Photo Credit | Pinterest

What’s In Her Bag: Christen Foster


What’s In Her Bag:

1. The gorgeous Nikon D700, and lenses AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G, AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D, and AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.
2. We’re sure Christen achieves some beautiful shots with the 42″ Multidisk Reflector (not pictured).
3. And what photographer’s bag would be complete without the Expodisc White Balance Filter?
4. We think Christen’s notebook is super cute! And business cards are a must!
5. Always make sure you carry extra card readers!
6. Tuck it all away in the stylish Kelly Moore Posey 2 Bag in Grey!

Thank you so much to Christen for sharing What’s In Her Bag! Be sure to follow along with Christen’s work on her website, on Facebook, and on Instagram!

What’s in Her Bag: Elizabeth Seliga



What’s in Her Bag:

1. Camera: Nikon D610 with vertical grip stickers
2. Elizabeth has lots of lenses for different shots – we love it!
3. The 3 Cats Photo Mascot is adorable. So many cute options here if you work with little ones.
4. We love how prepared Elizabeth is with all of her accessories: Sekonic Light Meter, ND filters, Expodicsc, and a case of camera cards.
5. Yongnuo 622N-TX Controller, Yongnuo 622N Trigger, NikonSB800 HSS Flash, Yongnuo Speedlight YN 560-III.
6. Pack it all up in a Pelican 1510 Rolling case with Dividers!

Be sure to check out Elizabeth’s stunning work on her website, on Facebook, and on Instagram!
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