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Photography Competitions ? 7 Ways To Win With The Wow Factor

1. Capture a ?reaction? rather than an action. Photographs of buildings, inanimate objects ? even people, all too often have a flat, dull, ?staged? feeling to them. However, capturing someone or something reacting to an external action offers far more dramatic possibilities e.g. commuters in a hailstorm, a football player being tackled, flags in the wind etc. Imagine how much weaker the above images would be if the element of reaction to something was taken away.

2. One of the most powerful techniques that film-maker Steven Spielberg uses is to direct the camera not at the ?incredible? thing happening (shark, UFO, German regiment etc.) but rather on the close-up reactions of individual characters seeing those things. It?s like the earlier tip about photographing a reaction, not an action.Spielberg implies intrigue, excitement, terror or wonder. The audience then imagines the source of those emotions which is infinitely more powerful than any actual visual.Alfred Hitchcock used this technique superbly so you are in good company if you can master it. For example, rather than shooting New Year?s fireworks (ho hum), get a 3 year old girl?s reaction to seeing them - in close-up - now that would be powerful!

3. Do your images have the ?X-Factor?? We are all fascinated by the extraordinary. Most of us lead relatively predictable lives hence our enjoyment of extremes in our entertainment e.g. how about a movie where a man dresses up as a bat to fight criminals and the police think that?s cool and work with him! Are your images extreme and extraordinary enough?

4. Conceive your image not as a single visual ?plane? but rather as a series of overlapping planes or layers that offer interesting ideas in relation to each use a crude example, imagine a photo of the water?s edge on a sandy beach (Layer 1). Add in a dead soldier on the sand in the foreground (Layer 2). Beyond that, add a stripped down soldier with a surfboard running toward the water to surf (Layer 3).What kinds of messages and themes have been added in by the background layers in this hypothetical image? In doing all of this however, make sure that the eye knows where to go in your composition!

5. Challenge stereotypes. It?s great to have some thematic ideas before you start shooting so you know - while allowing for serendipitous ?magic? of course - what you are after. Playing around with stereotypes and subverting them can be pretty cool. Some basic examples might be an excessively madeup blond ?bimbo? on a train reading The Wall Street Journal, a priest reading The Joy of Sex or a rich and successful celebrity Formula One driver using a bicycle or terrible old wreck of a car to get around etc.

6. The word ?photo-graph? literally means ?light-image?. The implication therefore is that great photography is not really image or subject-based but rather about the way light hits those images or subjects. There is a huge difference between these two concepts. The former focuses on the ?thing? in the picture. The latter recognizes how the light ?washing over? that ?thing? makes it visually interesting. So whether you are shooting Sting?s sweat or an eagle or a car tire, it is the type and quality of light hitting it that translates into a great photo. This is a major factor that sets great shots apart from the technically competent ones.

7. Enter the competition! This may sound too obvious but you only have a chance of winning those competitions that you enter. Don?t just talk about it. Don?t just think about it. Don?t just dream about it. None of these will actually do any good unless you take the shots and put your entry in. Many competition winners talk about how they

almost didn?t enter - don?t let it happen to you.