31 Jul Selecting Your Images for Competition, by Competition Judge Jennifer Kapala
So you have made the decision to enter into the National Association of Professional Child Photographers International Image Competition. Good for you! You have taken the first important, and sometimes daunting, step to deciding to put your work in front of a panel of judges who are as passionate and as dedicated to the art of photography as you. There is as much to learn about yourself and your art through the process of selecting, preparing and finalizing your entries as there is in seeing the final marks and comments back from the panel. Here are a few of my thoughts to keep in mind when selecting your images.
1) Challenge yourself – Not just in entering the competition, but also to be an impartial observer of your work and examine it with a critical eye. A good image is a fine balance between the technical and the creative; neither one should overshadow the other. A great image is all that AND one that makes the observer stop and be drawn into the story – that’s the impact that counts for the highest portion of your score and the “wow” factor, so go for it. As attached as we are to our own work, it helps to take out the emotional connection and really stand back to view it with a fresh set of eyes. Select your images early, leave them for a few days and come back to them and you will often be surprised at what else you may notice, or what other pictures draw you in. Once you have had that break, really challenge yourself to look at the composition, the lighting, the perspective, etc. Are they unique or have you seen them before? Do they follow the rules, or if not, break them well? Which images are you connected to emotionally now?
2) Involve others – Not necessarily the ones who love you, your work or the subjects, but the impartial ones who will be honest with you and give you constructive feedback. A trusted and reputable mentor or reviewer can really help you realize the strengths you have, as well as areas for development. Be curious and take the opportunity to ask them why an image works, why it doesn’t and what would take it to that next level. It will then be up to you to use the feedback that resonated with you and made sense for your vision and your art.
3) Tell me a story and assume nothing – This is the hardest part. To tell that compelling story, in one image, without any of the back story. An outsider has no idea how hard you worked to get that expression or how late you stayed up finessing the image to be as perfect as you could. But they do know what stops them in their tracks, wows them or makes them curious. At the same time, don’t assume judges want to see things that are similar to what they photograph, either in style, technique or subject matter. Be clear on who you are, and true to your art and your vision. That’s what will speak volumes to the viewer.
Finally, thank you. Thank you for being brave enough to put yourself out there and say, “This is me, this is what I see when I pick up the camera. Here, let me share a little of myself and my view with you.” It’s an honour to spend some time with you. I can’t wait to see what you’ve submitted and I hope you learn lots along the way too … especially a willingness to keep making art that inspires you and speaks to others. Keep going and keep putting yourself out there.
Jennifer is the recipient of NAPCP’s prestigious Photographer of the Year award, for 2014. View Jennifer’s full judges bio here. Visit her striking, modern website to view more of her work, and to contact Jennifer.