2016 Wildlife Photo Contest

2016 Wildlife Photo Contest

You may have heard, but we’re hosting a photography contest right here at the Daily Wildlife Photo of the Day / Natural Photographer!  We’re excited to see your stuff, and we hope that our tips and tutorials have been helpful over the past several months.

In this installment of The Natural Photographer blog, I’d like to go over some basics of how to excel at photo contests.  If you search around, you’ll find that there are a number of opportunities across the web to showcase your talent, and gain recognition, too!

The first thing you want to do is to focus on the contest criteria.

Most contests will give you a solid description and sometimes even a list of what they’re looking for.  In our contest, we have a blurb that helps describe exactly what we’re looking for:

Photos submitted to the contest must contain wildlife, including but not limited to mammals, invertebrates, birds, fish, marine wildlife, insects, and reptiles. Submitted photos may contain people, as long as non-human wildlife is present in the photo. Submitted photos should depict animals in their natural habitat. Please do not submit photos of animals in captivity, including but not limited to zoos, aquariums, or farms.  Sponsor reserves the right to reject images taken in these settings. 

From a professional opinion, here are the standouts of the above…should depict animals in their natural habitat.  It’s pretty vague, but gives you the first marching orders – animals in their natural habitat.  Although tempting, a shot of a bear’s face or bird’s eye that fills the frame does not include their natural habitat – probably safe to say you can scrap those.  It sounds to me that the quality of the landscape may be just as important as the quality of the animal (hint, hint).

Once you’ve satisfied the above (which shouldn’t be too difficult given the generality of “animals in their natural habitat”, it’s time to bring out your best of the best.  Develop your own set of criteria that you adhere to.  Some common ones I think of when selecting my photos would be things like originality, superb composition, artistic excellence, and the overall impression it gives to the viewer (kind of an “x-factor”).  Oftentimes we have in our portfolios some incredible photos of a rare animal or unnatural phenomenon.  These are certainly great for the x-factor, originality, and overall impression, but what if the composition is off or not all that artistic (ie, unintentionally blurry or otherwise not all that stunning)?  To me, it wouldn’t make the cut.  Conversely, if I have a beautiful shot of a lion in perfect focus, at close range, resting in the grass, it may satisfy the contest rules and have superb composition, but is it original enough?

This leads me to my last point, which is that you have to consider both your fellow competitors and the judges in what you select.

If you are entering a wildlife photo contest, you have to assume that your photo will be compared against some truly amazing wildlife shots.  In addition, judges to photo contests often have a lifetime of experience in photographing in the wild and have seen a lot.  Thus, submitting photos that are truly unique and showcase originality is a necessity.  Thinking outside the box often gets you rewarded, and being extremely deliberate in your shot’s artistry is vital.

We’re really looking forward to seeing your photos – be sure to submit your best three by entering the contest HERE.