5 Tips for Picture Perfect Photo Contest Entry

By Sarah Tisdel 

Photography contests are a great way to not only have fun, but to improve your skills as an aspiring photographer. Best of all? You don’t need the most expensive camera to win. Check out some tips you can use to wow the judges in the next contest you enter. 

  1. #PrepToWin by reading all the rules of the contest 

With anything you do in life, knowing the requirements and rules will allow you to fully maximize your potential and shot at success. Make sure to research and read the rules of the photography contest you may be participating in, and fully understand them as well. For example, for the Online Junior National Skills Contest and World Pork Expo Contest: “participants’ photos should not be photoshopped, have filters applied, nor have words or graphics on them.” Some contests will justify a disqualification if rules are not followed. 

It’s also important to know rules such as entry submission dates and the size or format in which your photo should be submitted. With any questions or concerns, reaching out to someone for clarification will only better your chances. 

  1. Decide what you will photograph 

Now that you fully understand the rules of the contest, the next step is to decide what you would like to capture! Finding inspiration can help you along with this decision as well. Do you have any photographers you look up to or know of any images you’ve seen that just stand out? Use those as a guide in how to snap a unique image yourself. Cattle grazing in a field or detail shots of ranch work are a few ideas to get started.  

  1. Pick a day and place to capture your winning image 

Contrary to popular belief, you will not need the “latest and greatest” photography equipment in order to take a good photo. A good photographer will be able to make the most out of the equipment at hand. And this all starts with the day and scenery you choose to shoot in. 

Take a good walk around the location where you wish to picture and try to stay away from eye-sores such as vehicles, brush piles, etc. An open field, pen, or grassy area are good places to start. Remember to look for unique images or angles. This might mean laying on the ground and shooting up at an old barn or climbing to the top of a loading chute to get a different perspective. 

Generally speaking, taking pictures one hour before sunset or one hour after sunrise will give you great lighting to work with, without having to deal with the harsh sun that can cast awkward shadows onto your subject/surroundings. Overcast days are fun to shoot during as well. You are getting the brightness of day without the same kind of harshness you can get from clear skies. 

  1. Have options to choose from 

No matter how confident or how much you love a previous photo taken, don’t settle. Try getting those different angles, different subjects and experimenting with different lighting. Having your images come with some individuality is important, and you’d be much happier choosing from a plethora of different images, than not taking enough and still not being fully satisfied. Remember to turn your camera, to get both vertical and horizontal images. Zoom in to get more close-up cropped in shots, but don’t be afraid to zoom out too if there is landscape image you want to capture. 

  1. Ask others for feedback 

As a part of the learning process, it’s important to ask someone you trust or respect to review your images. Having another set of eyes on your work will give you a chance to notice things you possibly missed the first time or learn ways to grow as a creative photographer.  

Photography contests can be the beginning of a fun hobby or even a career. Brush up on the rules, get your cameras, capture your shots and enter your favorite photos. Following the five tips above are just a few ways to help you #preptowin for your next photo contest. Good luck! 

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