Photo Feedback

When judging photographs, I have some basic expectations - and I think most other judges are the same. The photograph should be sharp (focused) in the right places (although blurred images can be wonderful in context); they should be correctly exposed (not too light or too dark); and they should be appropriately framed. There’s nothing worse than a fantastic subject being overcrowded by unnecessary information or a busy background. Deciding what to leave out of your photographs is just as important as what to leave in.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t award a prize to a blurred image with poor print quality – there could be emotional or pictorial aspects about the image that either justify the blurred image, or override it. This is a subjective process and what a photograph can be is so varied, you can never be assured of impressing the judges.

However, you can expect to achieve a good score for a high standard. You can aim for a Silver Award and when they are easy, aim for a Gold Award. Don’t expect to win a competition the first time you enter, rather look at it as a process of learning so that at some stage in the not too distant future, your work will be good enough to be up there with the winners.

And look for judges whose work you appreciate. While there are no guarantees, judges whose work you like are more likely to point you in the right direction when they score your images. 

The 2018 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year Award is now on! Entries close on 31 October 2018 (late entries possible until 7 November) and there is $17,000 in cash and prizes on offer. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be handed out and every entry will receive a short comment or suggestion from the judging panel.

Check out our e-book on How To Win Photo Competitions on our Better Photography Education website - you can find it here.

And, of course, you can enter our current Better Photography Photo of the Year Competition. Entries close 31 October and details are here.

Many photos are ruined by busy or inappropriate backgrounds. Sometimes by changing your camera position or moving your subject you can frame your subject against a better background that makes a much stronger photograph. And this is something judges are keenly aware of! 

When looking through your viewfinder, look at all the elements as shapes and lines, rather than what they really are. How do these shapes and lines interact? Can you keep the shapes and lines of your subject separate from the shapes and lines elsewhere? One way to make the shapes and lines of your background disappear is to focus on your subject and throw the background out of focus. Or in a landscape, maybe you need a higher vantage point to remove the horizon if it is distracting, or get down really low so you just have the sky as the background. Or shoot on a misty day when the background is obscured. 

Of course, by the time you're looking for photos to enter, you've already shot your photo. So, what can you do about the background then? When editing your photos, can you darken the background or desaturate the colour so it is less distracting?

The background is not as important as your subject, but it can ruin an otherwise wonderful subject if it is not kept under control. And the same applies to all photography, whether you're entering a photo competition or not!

The 2018 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year Award is now on! Entries close on 31 October 2018 and there is $17,000 in cash and prizes available. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be handed out and every entry will receive a short comment or suggestion from the judging panel.

Check out our e-book on How To Win Photo Competitions on our Better Photography Education website - you can find it here.

And, of course, you can enter our current Better Photography Photo of the Year Competition. Entries close 31 October and details are here.

Sometimes as judges, we see subjects that are really small in the frame or hidden away. This is something that is easy to do because the human eye is very good at zooming in on what the brain is interested in. This is especially so when you look through the viewfinder of your camera and what appears to be quite large to you when taking the photograph can end up being relatively insignificant in the final image.

Get in close to your subject with your zoom lens (or just walk in closer) so it’s really obvious what the viewer is supposed to be looking at, or look at the images you have and crop them so the subject is more important. 

Of course, making your subject obvious doesn’t mean it has to be large in the frame – a car in the middle of a flat desert doesn’t need to be large to be obvious. However, a car on a busy city street will be lost with all the other cars unless you move in a bit closer with your zoom, or you crop the image during post-production. 

Cropping an image doesn't automatically make it better, but if cropping your image can remove distracting elements from the frame, then it's probably a good idea!

The 2018 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year Award is now on! Entries close on 31 October 2018 and there is $17,000 in cash and prizes available. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be handed out and every entry will receive a short comment or suggestion from the judging panel.

Check out our e-book on How To Win Photo Competitions on our Better Photography Education website - you can find it here.

And, of course, you can enter our current Better Photography Photo of the Year Competition. Entries close 31 October and details are here.

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