Unlike pros that get paid for their work, amateur photographers have limited ways to gain recognition for their images. One option is to enter, and hopefully win, photo contests. But there’s typically a lot of strong competition, so the images you choose, along with proper preparation, is really important.
The video below from British landscape photographer Nigel Danson provides invaluable advice for increasing your odds of success. As someone who has organized and judged photo competitions himself, Danson knows what it take come out on top.
Using images submitted to the 2020 World Photographer Competition he founded, Danson points out what makes a winning shot, and why others are deemed also-rans. As you’ll see, the gulf between champions and losers is a wide one.
Danson says it’s important to understand both parts of the judging process. The first is narrowing down the thousands (or tens of thousands) of entries to a manageable group of those with a realistic chance of winning. The second and more critical part is picking a winner and runners-up in various categories from the remaining select group.
Images making the initial cut, according to Danson, are those with “impact” that makes them stand out from the crowd. That’s important for winners and runners-up too, but these images also “need longevity and something creative that establishes an emotional connection with the viewer.”
Before addressing the above, Danson reviews the type of rules you can expect when submitting entries. He also provides suggestions on how to compose images that will appeal to judges (and improve your photography in general). As for what ultimately makes a winning shot, watch the video to find out.
You can find other helpful tutorials like this on Danson’s YouTube channel. And be sure to check out our post from another pro, with seven “terrible” editing mistakes he says will ruin landscape photographs.