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Photo competitions | What makes a good photo?


What makes a ‘good’ photo can be subjective, but after judging local and national photographic competitions I thought I would share some tips on what I think makes a successful image. Below is an outline of the key criteria for selecting which image to enter, whether you are submitting it in a local or national competition, and also some ideas to keep in the back of your mind when you are taking photos.

1. The first step is to remember it is better to submit something than nothing.
The only guarantee I can make is that if you do not submit anything, you definitely will not win!

2. Subject Matter
If there is a theme or topic for the competition, make sure the image you submit is relevant, otherwise you will not be eligible to win.

3. Impact Does your image stand out?
People are drawn to rare or difficult photographs. Some ways to make your image stand out is to:

  • Communicate a story or message
  • Capture the moment
  • Focus on excitement, appeal, emotion or mood

4. Visual
In this section you need to carefully analyse the basic elements of the image: – Composition. How does your eye move around the image and where does it land? In general, stronger images have obvious focal point, which is a centre of interest that your eye is drawn to. When taking a photo you can change your composition by changing you framing, viewpoint, background and perspective. – Design elements are the basic elements that form an image. They are line, colour, shape, texture, form, tone and space. – The design principles are movement, unity, harmony, variety, contrast, repetition, emphasis and balance. Do they improve the photo? – Have you applied appropriate post-processing techniques?

The game called (C) 2010 This image was selected as a finalist in the YAWA art exhibition

5. Creativity
What are the creative elements that enhance your images impact? The more creative, unique or original your image is the more it will stand out.

6. Technical
Do the technical elements enhance its impact? The key technical areas to consider are:

  • Lighting. Does it enhance the photo?
  • Exposure. Is it correct?
  • Colour and tone. Are the contrast and saturation appropriate?
  • Depth of field. Has it been used to enhance the image?\
  • Focus and sharpness. Is the most important part of the image sharp?

Where to find competitions to enter


The best way to improve you photography is to not only take many photos, but to spend time analysing what worked well and what didn’t! And remember, you have got to be in it to win it!

  • Always good to know. I’ve not really entered into any yet.

    Also. Wanted to say that I love that banner image with the bride and groom dancing and the sides blurred out..Lovely…

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