2012 Photo Contest

Jun 20, 2013
Memphis, TN
So, I entered a photo contest with some pictures of my sons. Needless to say, I was eliminated in the first round. I want to make sure I make it further next year. Can yall take a look at tell them what you think?

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May 19, 2008
St. Louis, Missouri
Jason - there are several things I think can be improved upon.

1. The photos are "cool" in that I see a lot of blue in your children's faces.

2. There is a lot of background distraction. The backgrounds should at least be blurry enough so that I see your kids and not your carpet.

3. Come closer to your children when you shoot them.

4. Use a flash to create catchlights in your kids eyes.

5. Decide what type of photo you want to create. Candids? Formal shots? How about taking them outdoors and having nature be your background?

6. Check out some of the people shots here in this thread, and check out how they were done, and PM the OP if you have questions.

Those are some of the things that I thought of when looking at these. Good luck next year!
Jun 20, 2013
Memphis, TN
1 - Thanks!
2 - Yea, these were shot right after I got my D600 so I was still very new.
3 - Ok.
4 - All but one, had a flash. I bounce it off walls. I don't like it straight on. But, good idea.
5 - These were just around the house except when we were at the Georgia Aquarium. None of them of were pose shots except #5.
6 - Will do.

Thank you!
May 27, 2005
Clearwater, Florida
I agree with Lyndee's thoughts.

My favorite of the bunch here is #3. It's the only one where you got a bit out of the box and created something eye catching. The rest are good family snaps but they will not win you any contests.

Look around and notice what strikes you as an engaging and interesting portrait. They rarely have centered subjects and are never overly "flashy". Try to emulate some of these styles and then develop your own. You've got good subjects!


Cafe Ambassador
Apr 8, 2008
Rutledge, Tennessee
Real Name
Really study the photos that DID win to find out why they were winners. Also, study both good and poor images and assess the strong and weak points of each.
Dec 9, 2006
Princeton, NJ
There's a mood in image #3 that draws the viewer in - that's what you need to be competitive in contests. To echo Mitch, look around on photo sites....you'll see images that make you pause to explore the frame or complete the "story" in your in your own mind. Generally these are the type of images that are selected. When it comes to winning contests the other piece is the technicals, i.e exposure, lighting, framing, DOF etc.

When I judge a contest, I scan all entries for mood/story FIRST. I'll go back through those and look for the images the best combine mood/story and technicals.

Just keep in mind you never know with these contests. It's very subjective so don't get discouraged if you're not selected.
Jan 13, 2006
Columbia, Maryland
Real Name
Walter Rowe
Also be sure to look at the images that went further, and especially those that one. How do they differ from yours in ways you can control like lighting, depth of field, how much is or isn't in the photo background, contrast, brightness, what they children are doing, where they are doing it, with whom/what are they doing it (alone, with other kids, with pets, with toys, etc), whether or not they are looking into the camera. Lyndee hit the nail right on the head.
Oct 20, 2010
Texas, USA
Since there has been a lot of great suggestions, I am just going to encourage you to keep on looking for a style, genre that you like. Portraits, whether candid or not, could be the most difficult do well. Look at more photos, books, mags, and even famous portrait painters' works and look for appealing poses, light source and quality, shadows, level of contrast, background (subdued or contributory), etc. Good luck and keep on shooting...
Nov 20, 2007
Rotterdam Holland
I think #1 is not bad at all.Great 'SLURP" expression on his face. Only its to tight.Make it wider . Complete ears,head, perhaps more of his drinking mug.Background is okay,but.... I would clone the two blurry knobs away.
#2 Aint bad either.Its the background that spoils it.
#4 A wide angle is not the right lens for shooting kids.Looking in the lens give you that weird "Fishy" effect.Background is obvious.
#7 Crop the shot to half the kid plus his shield,and you have a winner.
#6 Looking down on a model is a photographers NoNo.

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