Follow Paul's guide to competing in competitions:
Most competition judges have seen all of it or most of it before. If you want to stand any chance of winning anything you have to be fiercely critical of your own work above anything else. To stand any chance a photo must elicit a strong reaction, for good (hopefully) or for bad, so don't pay too safe. There are several factors that judges will always be looking for:
- Originality: don't take photos you have seen before, stamp your own inflection on them. Originality is key. It can be something totally new or, 'new light through old windows' i.e. a well-known subject done in a new manner.
- Degree of difficulty: judges like to see some graft, this can mean trekking miles for your photo, or getting up at four AM or being suspended above a forest canopy for hours - if you are not prepared to sweat a bit, don't bother entering.
- Composition: imagine you are taking a shot for a calendar - people have to look at this for a month .... exactly ! Make it interesting and powerful.
- Light: a photo taken in the sunshine early or late is worth a hundred in the middle of the day.
- Symmetry: The human eye likes symmetry, worth remembering.
- Humour: Not some cheesy, tabloid nonsense but something that elicits a warm often wry smile.
- Don't enter too many: You have to be in it to win it, but much in the way of a scattergun approach is not the way to achieve perfect digital photos, don't send in every photo you have. Cut them down to twenty then slowly cull them till you just have your very best.