Wednesday, 8 May 2013


If you enter into photography competitions regularly and you find that your best result these last three years was Third Prize in the East Widgemootha Royal Agricultural Show (Division Three) you just may have a problem.

It could be that your photographs are just so damn boring that they are giving the judges a dose of the ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzs.

If you're regularly entering sharp, head and shoulder  images of old men or old women from third world countries; guess what? So are half the population.

I've called this the BEG principle
When all else fails, BEG for a result!
Be Bold, be Emotional, be Graphic!

If you're timid, the chances are your subject will lack confidence and your image will have all the spice of reheated three day old porridge. Be BOLD, take risks, work on the edge, try quirky. You have lots of time to be shy and retiring after you die.

Tear jerking images that grasp your heart by the aorta valve and left ventricle are likely to work. The tear in the eye, the quiver of the lip, the wrenching of clasped hands. Emotion is much easier with two people because they can react to each other - pain, sorrow, loss, love, delight, flirtation, sadness. These all work.

I recently witnessed a portrait getting the highest score in a state wide competition for pro photographers. It was a portrait of a dog (amputee) sitting sadly on a stylish chair just in front of a framed family portrait of mother, father, two kids and the dog before the amputation. The judges were overcome with emotion. They pleaded the case for the three-legged hound and hypothesised on the fate of the family. 'Perhaps a car accident' ventured one judge. It was a damn fine image which brandished emotion like an 80 pound sledge hammer.

Take a long hard look at the lighting you are going to use. Remember the word 'Photography' comes from the Greek for writing with light; make it work for you! Get the image as sharp as a surgeon's scalpel.
Then power into the image with your favourite software to maximise the grain, textures and monochrome tones.

You could win $5000 cash or a Nikon D800 or a mini Apple iPad in the 2013 Fremantle International Portrait Prize! Check for details. Just $15 enter. Entries close on 8 July.

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