Five Ways To Help Set Your Image Apart!


Five Ways To Help Set Your Image Apart!

Having entered, judged and watched the judging of photography competitions, and having won and lost myself, I’ve learned a few things along the way. And while it’s never an exact science, I hope to share just a few tips to help you select your images for competition. Here is what I personally look for in order of importance:
1. Impact & Uniqueness. Does the image grab my attention or does it make me feel “been there/ done that/ seen it before”? The difference between impressing a client and impressing other photographers is that your clients are going to be automatically emotionally involved because they are seeing an image of their child/ their family etc. If they don’t have a lot of experience with photography, it is going to be pretty easy to blow them away. As photographers we believe we’ve seen it all, so if you are able to show us something new and different, a new approach or an expression that is just incredibly striking, we are going to take notice. To me a sleeping newborn is a sleeping newborn is a sleeping newborn. Unless….you show me something more than a sleeping newborn. What is the commentary about the sleeping newborn? I’m looking for more than a cute hat. What makes me notice THIS particular sleeping newborn in a sea of sleeping newborns? Show me something I haven’t seen before.

2. Storytelling & Expression. What is the context of the image? What does it communicate? To an educated eye, the difference between a snapshot and a carefully crafted image is obvious. Does your image say something? Even a simple portrait should tell a story. I love an image that I can stare deep into and create a story in my head. Sometimes you may be more attached to an image than you should be because you remember THE EXPERIENCE of creating it fondly. You have a story in your head…and the moment was so funny/ beautiful/ memorable/ whatever. But you need to ask yourself if the story is communicated in the image itself or if it will be obvious to someone who was not there to witness it. Also, forget about how difficult it was to create an image. Difficulty does not matter…what matters is the end result.

3. Composition. How is your subject framed? Is it purposeful? Are there supporting elements of story within the composition? Do you get a sense of place or time? Did you select the right lens/ angle etc.? I personally am attracted to images that are flattering to the subjects. Are there graphic elements or a flow that lead your eye around the frame in a way that makes sense and are pleasing to the eye?

4. Lighting. Does the lighting support the overall feel of the image? Is it intentional? Do you have control of your lighting? Having control over your lighting does not necessarily mean using artificial light. And I personally love natural light. But I want it to enhance your image and make it stand out. Does it sculpt your subject in a pleasing way? Is it flattering if it’s supposed to be? Does it add depth and dimension to your image?

5. Posing. Does the posing feel natural? I prefer images that feel unposed even if they are posed or directed. And by posed I mean everything placed just so to the point that the portrait feels contrived. I would prefer to see natural, comfortable expressions at the expense of a misplaced hand or foot than an forced expression along with a perfectly posed body.

Entering photography competitions is a great way to help yourself grow as an artist and to push yourself beyond what your clients expect. I still believe that impressing your clients is far more important than impressing other photographers. But if you can stretch yourself to impress photographers, impressing your clients and making better work and bigger sales is going to be that much easier.
Good luck everyone, so excited to see your entries!

Kristen the designer
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