Selecting Images for Competition: Cultivating Your Creative Edge with Ivan Duran
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, submitting your work to competitions can help you take your photography to the next level. It’s one thing to snap a picture that will impress your clients or Instagram followers, but it’s another thing altogether to craft an image that will impress a blind panel of master photographers. Make this your goal and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you improve.
Competitions are a great way to get in touch with your weaknesses (a good thing, I promise!). We all have blind spots when it comes to our own work and can spend years reinforcing the same bad habits if left to our own devices, so getting regular feedback from qualified judges can be truly invaluable. Beyond this, competitions provide the opportunity to set some concrete photography goals. New to the competition circuit? Aim to get at least one picture scoring 75 or above. These kinds of actionable goals are key to staying focused and motivated. Plus, once you start enjoying competition success, you can use your awards to promote your work and draw in new clients. What’s not to love?
Of course, selecting images for competitions can be intimidating. Top scoring images tend to be more than technically perfect—they are usually highly creative as well. This is my guiding light when selecting images for competition: I’m always looking to submit my most original, high-impact images; images with that creative edge that will stand out to judges. Setting up creative photoshoots and seeing the creative potential in images you’ve already captured takes practice, in the same way that controlling light or mastering Photoshop takes practice. I used to think that creative inspiration descended upon master photographers like a muse from above, and maybe this happens to some people. For the rest of us though, creative, competition-worthy ideas must be actively cultivated.