Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Editor's Picks with RyukyuMike's Photo Contest Tips

A Sacred Grove in Okinawa, Japan

Among the Mangroves in Okinawa

Among the Weeds

Orange-tip Butterfly

Plus, one photo from October's Contest, an Editor's Pick, which moved on to become a Finalist.

Entering Photo Contests is a great way to have your photography recognized and I would encourage any aspiring photographer to enter as many as possible.

The competition is stiff and every contest you enter has it's own set of rules.

Following the rules, every little detail of them, is the first step.  So, read them carefully.

Tens of thousands of contest entries are submitted every month.

The simplest way for judges to lighten their workload is eliminate anyone who didn't follow the rules.


1.  Make sure the photo is sharp.  That means the subject is clear and the focus is not on something else in the picture's frame.  Judges have a good eyes for this.  You can't fool them.

2.  Exposure has to be perfect.  Underexposed and overexposed photos are eliminated, always.

3.  Composition.  Learn the basic rules of composition and apply them.  The Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, Framing, Curves, Symmetry, Patterns and Background are just a few of the terms used in basic photographic composition.  If you don't understand them, you are just experimenting.  That's fine, and I encourage experimentation.  But, it rarely gets you anywhere in a photo contest.

After using 1-3 above, in taking a photo, the next two tips come in handy when you submit a contest entry.

4.  Title:  Give your photo a title that gets the judges attention.  I get away with just putting a critter's name on a wildlife photo, sometimes, just because it's something a judge has never seen before.  

But, if I shot a picture of a cat, I wouldn't title it "Cat".  Let someone else do that.

5.  Caption:  Try to come up with something interesting to say in your description of the photo.

Many contests base their scores on the five tips given above.  Some grade the photos entered by awarding a possible 20% of the total score for each of those five steps.

That means, if you took a perfect picture, as far as focus, exposure and composition go, you could lose out to the folks who had the best titles and captions.  Forty percent of your score may not even depend on what came out of your camera.  Another photographer can beat me with their choice of words.  

That means I have to use my brain, too.  OUCH !

Time permitting, I will add more about entering photo contests to my PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS.


Jim said...

Thanks for the tips Mike, very digestible!

RyukyuMike said...

Thank you. I was hoping you wouldn't suffer any indigestion when I wrote this. LOL

Stephanie - The Travel Chica said...

Good to know. I've entered a few photography contests and was successful once. But I've often wondered how they can decide between so many wonderful photos.

RyukyuMike said...

These tips are just a start. There are too many different contests and rules to publish here. But, if you've already won once, you're headed in the right direction. Keep up the great work !