Photographer Reveals Secrets to Winning Images

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Photographer entering a competition as an artist can be thrilling and challenging. A photography contest can push you as a photographer to hone in on your style and technique. Entering can be daunting, but pushing through will help you grow. A photographer following these tips can increase the chances of producing the winning image.

Shoot for the Competition


Photographer Reiko Takahashi’s Mermaid

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest, “Mermaid” by Reiko Takahashi

Don’t try to recycle your work for a show. Even if your portfolio images are gorgeous, you are more likely to win if you work with the specific competition in mind. Stretching the rules or bending the instructions might work for you, or it might not. The best way to increase your competition chances is to stick to competition rules and guidelines.

A Competing Photographer Should Follow Instructions Carefully

It might seem obvious, but the top photos are most likely the ones that follow instructions. Pay attention to the sizing and editing requirements when you are prepping your submission. Do they want a specific file size? Know where you need to submit the file or send your print out. Make sure you submit on time. Carefully following all the small details to increase your chances of being in the top.

Tell a Story as a Photographer


Photographer Martin Stanka

2018 Sony World Photography Award, Martin Stranka, Czech Republic National Award

The best images make the audience think about more than just what is pictured. Know what you care about as a photographer and artist. Work to create an image that brings the viewer into that world. Pick a topic that isn’t overly well-known. You want to create a unique image that stands out from the crowd and causes emotion for those looking at it. As a photographer, you want your audience to feel compelled to look longer, taking in the detail, composition, color, and texture.

Research the Deciding Factors


Photographer Steve Mattheis, Great Gray Owl

2018 Audubon Photography Awards Great Gray Owl by Steve Mattheis

Look at past winners for an idea of what style, subject matter and storytelling is valued. Different competitions are looking for different types of images as their winners. If the competition publishes the judges names, look them up to see what their own work looks like. Are they using bright colors, macro focus, documentary-style storytelling or something else? You don’t want to copy anyone’s style, but personal taste means a lot in a competition.

There may not be a sure-fire way to win an art competition, but you can increase the likelihood of being picked. At the end of the day, you will have spent valuable time practicing your art regardless of what happens. So, use this as a useful part of fine-tuning your craft.