What Makes A Photo Work?

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Photo Comp Tip: What Are Judges Judging?

Croc Eyes, Exclusive Arnhemland Photo Workshop. Pre-dawn light and very close,
but shot safely from a flat-bottomed boat!
Canon EOS 5DSR, 300mm lens with 2x converter, 1/50 second @ f5.6, ISO 400
Bookings for the 2017 Workshop are now open!

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 2016 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year Award is now on! Entries close on 7 September (late entries possible until 15 September) and first prize is a cool $5000 cash. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be handed out and every entry will receive a short comment or suggestion from the judging panel. For more information, visit www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com.


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