Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Go With Your Gut

As I have said so many times when speaking to groups and individual photographers, when deciding which images to enter into competition, use your best judgment based on the judges and the venue, but ultimately enter the images that move YOU the most.

I don't always follow my own advice, but thankfully I did in this case. Every year I enter images in the Professional Photographers of America worldwide annual competition. The competition is going on now, and I just received word today that this image did well.

This is one of my favorite places, Antelope Canyon in Arizona. It is a special and magical place, sacred to Native Americans, with beautiful light and an unending array of rock formations. I have visited there several times at different times of year, and each time the canyon provides compelling images with lovely colors and sweeping lines.

I was not going to enter this image because often in this type of competition, scenics of places that the judges have seen many times before do not stand out enough to get their attention. But because I love this place, and love this image, I decided to go ahead and enter it anyway. I fully expected it to be rejected, so I was thrilled when I heard that it had done well.

As many of us who have entered photo competitions have experienced, it can be a blow when a favorite image gets slammed by the judges. It can leave us feeling inadequate and makes us question our photographic worth. But regardless of what the judges say, we should not allow the results to make us doubt our skills. Just because a judge does not respond well to one of your images, YOUR love of the image is still important and should not be jeopardized by the judge's opinion.

To boost the chances of an image doing well in competition, here are some tips to enhance its impact:
1. Make sure there are leading lines or other strong compositional elements.
2. For color images, complementary colors or warm against cool can provide more impact.
3. For black-and-white images, good contrast with strong blacks and bright whites do best.
4. Do not over-sharpen or over-saturate.
5. Use images that have been properly exposed and well-focused.
6. Select images that create a mood, or have emotional impact.

When all is said and done and the competition is over, never let a judge's rejection of your image or thoughtless comment have a negative effect on you. Yes, it can be crushing, especially when you have not entered very many competitions. But ultimately it is your opinion that counts the most.

Shutter Speed 13 seconds.  Aperture f/20.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4L, set at 29mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Don't lose your perseverance and always trust your gut instinct."  --Paula Abdul 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful advice. In competition my mantra has become: on any given day an image can be a winner or a loser!