February 11, 2014 | Posted by Kristen the designer
We continue our series with our next competition judge, Beverly Walden!
1. Coming from a Professional Photographers of America background and having judged by their standards, I would have to say my number one tip is their number one tip in a national judging and that is IMPACT! For me, a definition of IMPACT that I came up with years ago is this…
IMPACT=Creative Composition and Unusual Approach
Does the image have impact-does it touch my heart and soul and cause me to stop in my tracks? What is the emotion that it pulls out of me as I view it? I have seen so many images that are technically perfect but emotionally deficient. This is not to say you can slide by on the technical side with an emotional image, but the perfect image to me is one that has both the emotion and technical excellence.
2. The second thing I would suggest is to make sure the images you enter are technically proficient. By this, I mean are they correctly exposed, cropped and posed? Does the crop cut off a hand or foot in the wrong place? Are the highlights blown out? Is there detail in the shadow or is it all just one “blob” of black? Is the pose weak or poorly done? Was the correct lens used? Are the colors correct in the print itself? Use print competition to improve these areas and get stronger.
3. The third and final suggestion I would make is to select images that tell a story rather than a statically posed photograph. The images I especially love are the ones that allow me to make up my own story as I look at the image, letting my imagination freely flow.
February 11, 2014 | Posted by Kristen the designer
Next up in our advice series is competition judge Anne Almasy!
1. Select images that make you FEEL something. Then review those images, and make sure you’re not just feeling something because you remember what you felt like when you took the photo. Do you feel something because of the photo itself? Do you return to the image over and over, even as time passes and the shoot is no longer fresh? Don’t worry about what other people may or may not feel when they see the photograph. Follow your gut, and submit images that evoke strong emotion in you, the artist.
2. You can’t save it with Photoshop. Don’t submit images that you had to retouch to death in order to make them presentable. Sometimes you have to let a nice photo go because the exposure was really dreadful, or the subject’s eyes were half-closed, or some stranger in a bright red jacket wandered through the background. Don’t just enter those photos into the contest and hope no one notices. Carefully select photos that are genuinely strong without excessive post-production. (Unless, of course, you’re a Photoshop genius whose work is based on masterful digital manipulation!)
3. Judges know what it takes to make a good photo. We will look at your image and note everything from your connection to your subjects, to the technical skill involved, to the physical effort required, to the post-production quality. We can also usually tell if a photo was a mistake. Be certain you’re submitting images that you MADE with purpose and intention. Lazy photography is a huge turn-off.
4. Enter even if you don’t think you can win. The first contest I ever won was a total shock to me, but it was an image I was truly proud of, so the win was incredibly exciting! When you make a practice of entering contests, you get better at it, and more comfortable with it. You realize that it’s okay if you don’t win — or even place! And you become more familiar with the process of critiquing your own work, looking for your strengths and weaknesses. Contest entry is an excellent way to hone your portfolio! Save a folder of the photographs you select for contest entry, and use those images in your ads, sample albums, and promotional pieces.
August 22, 2013 | Posted by Alice Park
NAPCP is currently hosting it’s bi-annual International Image Competition. Selecting images for submission is critical and can often times be an overwhelming process for our members. We’ve reached out to our distinct panel of judges for expert advice on what they look for specifically in an award winning image. Our final judge is the wonderful Stephanie Buckman of Stephanie Robin Photography!
In submitting images for competition, I’m often overly critical of my own work and I’ll tell you why I think this is a good thing. The experience you carry with you from being present during the actual moment of documentation affects the way in which you view the image. Taking yourself out of the image is definitely the first step in objectively viewing your artwork and a lack of a critical eye may result in submission of images that mean more to you as the photographer than they will an outside viewer. For this reason, I rarely submit imagery of my own children for competition as I can’t easily remove my emotional attachment to the imagery resulting in less objectivity when viewing the image.
I use the following as techniques in determining which images may fare the best:
*ask neighbours, friends or artists of another genre for their impression of your imagery. Keep an open mind as to what they see
*flip your image upside down or as a mirror reflection to help you to see distracting elements you may have bypassed
*look at your image in relation to the rules of photography (rule of thirds, leading lines, balancing elements etc.). These rules are there for a reason
*choose images that depict genuine emotion or a connection between your subjects. With children, unless your subjects are great little actors, moments that occur spontaneously will often resonate much better than those in which you have told the subject what to do
*consider the category to which you are submitting. Ask yourself whether your image truly depicts or emotes something distinctive about the category
*is the image or setup original in thought, expression or creativity. Don’t simply replicate past winning imagery. Strive to create new and distinctive work.
Most of all, look for constructive criticisms from trusted and experienced mentors whether in the field of photography or beyond. A mentor can help you to see beyond yourself and provide you with direction and motivation to do and be better.
I so look forward to seeing your creativity and technique shine in your submissions this competition!
Thanks Stephanie! Members, be sure to submit your favorite images here by 11:59 EST tonight!
June 4, 2013 | Posted by Charlotte Biesse
One of my favourite memories from childhood was twirling around on a windy day and pretending to fly. I would shut my eyes and float. It felt so real. It was my special secret power that no one knew about but me. We all have memories that feel like they take us back in time. This is why photography is so powerful, it holds on to time for us and allows us to visit back whenever we’d like. Childhood sessions have grown to be one of my favourite styles of photography. It’s a time when it’s ok to be playful, imaginative and fancy-free.
When I have the opportunity to photograph a childhood session I always do a little research first. I chat with parents beforehand and discuss the session. Firstly, I find out the ages of the children I’ll be photographing; boy or girl and if they have any specific interests like gymnastics, dance or superheroes. I keep a note on my iPhone so I can refer back to it during the session. For example, Jamie does karate : can you show me a few karate moves? It usually helps kids feel more at ease and have a bit of fun. I’ll take a few photographs and show them the back of the camera. They usually have a good laugh at themselves and I make sure to photograph that too! During the session, I chat with the kids while walking between locations and if they’re really shy, I can always mention some of their favourite things or something they’re really good at to help them feel confident.
It’s great to know their interests because I have collected an array of props over the years for childhood sessions. It helps me plan the session and bring along age appropriate props. This session in particular, I asked if Emma had anything she was really interested in. She absolutely loves princesses, reading her books and has many, many stuffed animals. This was some great insight into what props I should bring to the session. It’s amazing how clients, of all ages, will relax when you introduce a prop into the photo shoot. It’s almost like they feel the attention is no longer focused on them. I knew that if I brought a few pretty details to this session they would be in the right ballpark for the shoot. I usually bring a fairly large bag of hats, blankets, and accessories. I always shoot a few of my set ups and ask the kids if they’d like to dig through the bag and find anything that they think might look cool. This makes them feel like they are a part of the creative process, and they are! They really enjoy seeing their ideas come to life. I also ask them if there are a few poses they’d like to try that I haven’t done already. It’s surprising how much fun that can be!
As far as wardrobe goes, I leave that up to the parents. I recommend choosing outfits that are not matching but complimentary. I love bright bold colours, hats, mixing patterns, boots and bare feet. I also send parents a few links to stylish children’s stores to inspire the look.
March 26, 2013 | Posted by Jane Goodrich
The thing with kids is that they never sit still, even when you have them all set up for a nice photography session. So, the next time your kids are tearing around – whether on bikes, on foot, or skateboards – here are some tips to help you catch crisp action images.
Start with Shutter Priority
This setting on your camera (usually S or T or Tv) lets you set the shutter speed you would like to use, your camera then adjusts other settings to ensure a correct exposure. How fast of a shutter speed should you use? That depends on a) how fast your kid is moving, and b) whether they are moving across the camera or towards/away from it. Start with 1/250s, that should be fast enough for now, you can adjust up or down from there.
Change up your Focus
Most photographers are used to using the one-time focus mode: you focus and then take your shot, then repeat. The issue with this is that your focus is “locked” until you take the image – if your subject moves in the meantime they may end up out of focus. Luckily, most cameras come with another autofocus mode (referred to as AI Servo or Continuous Autofocus) that readjusts focus based on the movements of your subject – key when you have a child tearing around. Give this focus mode a try, it takes a bit of getting used to but will certainly improve your action shots!
Keep Taking Photos!
With your camera in “burst” mode, you can take as many pictures as your camera buffer can handle – giving you a better opportunity of capturing some “great” photos, particularly when there is a lot of action involved. Don’t forget to check your shots regularly to ensure that you are catching the action correctly, as the last thing you want is to take 200 photos with too slow of a shutter speed!
Practice Makes Perfect
Your action photography is not going to dramatically improve overnight (as helpful as this article may be) – you need to get out there and practice. You also don’t have to just practice on your kids, any action will do: rollerbladers, birds in flight, baseball players, or a game of soccer. The more you practice these techniques, the more your action photography will improve as a result!