Tip #3 – Try for your work to be original and unique
I previously shared with you comments about images in special themes, my experience when it comes to judging, and also my recommendations as to selecting and printing your photos.
Selecting your work for a fine photo contest can be a hard process and you should have no sentiments when picking your works. The fact that you like an image, or even the fact that the image is objectively good – may still be not enough for it to be accepted by a jury or win. Sitting in a jury, one can see thousands of images, see what’s popular this year, and see trends. There are amazing amounts of very good photographs. They all are good enough to sell proudly to your customer, display in a local camera club, or share on a social site. Good enough to be printed in a magazine looking for that specific scene you have, or good enough to win a small-scale, local photo competition. As I say – I’ve seen thousands of impressive, quality works. Yet, a jury of international photo salon has the difficult task of selecting just a handful of winners from these fine entries. So, which images have best chance to win? Not saying again what was mentioned earlier about sticking to theme, and picking your finest quality works – I have to say this: Unique, striking images will be quickly noticed among others.
I just said that sitting in various juries I have a chance of seeing current trends. These trends can kill your chances. What was unique and brilliant two years ago will be rejected this year. Why? Because lots of photographers copy others’ ideas. A winning photo of cocks fighting in Indonesia, so strong and story-telling a few years back made numerous people photograph cock fights. A fresh several years ago, beautiful technique of photographing sea with a long exposure (aka “milky water” in jurors’ jargon) got so many enthusiasts that at the Al-Thani, jurors saw well over hundred such smooth water images. A bit too much becomes a bit boring. Your image, being yet another one done in this style would need to be absolutely striking, or it will risk the “cliché” label and will lose instantly. Same goes for perfectly composed landscapes done as HDR, images of a girl sitting on a railway, a macro enlargement of a wasp’s head, a glam image of a young girl in studio. The list of “cliché” images is long, touching of lovely sunsets, now badly overpopular “Tuscany style” juicy green fields, black and white portraits of old, often unshaven people, Asian fishermen setting their nets, Vietnamese bulls running in wet mud, etc. etc. (Newly emerging trend – penguins! More and more penguins are on submitted photos.)
All these, when done for the first time were simply stunning. Stunning to such extent that now we have hundreds or thousands of images in their style. All were taken countless times, and they will still make at least half – or perhaps more of all salon entries. If you have one of these, but you really believe it has some striking qualities – very well, go ahead. But if your image falls within one of the most popular trends – try harder, and try submitting something fresh, something not copied thousand times around the world. Even if it shows one of well covered subjects – this can be just a different angle of camera, or a different edit, unusual crop, etc. But your photo should be something more than a typical calendar shot. You simply should show that you have YOUR way of seeing things, YOUR OWN concept, not just creating another lovely, but already overdone, trendy pic. By having a fresh concept for your image you won’t compete against numerous finely edited but “cliché” images which are ought to be submitted to the same salon as your photographs. By not competing against them but showing a fresh idea or angle, you seriously increase chances of being noticed. You will have what the jury is looking for!
Thank you for reading. Part 4 is coming very soon, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful.