Taking part in a contest is the best way to learn, gain experience, getting in touch with fellow photographers and test your own skills and development. The topics for a contest could be innumerable, and in this article we have chosen to review only the most popular. Every one of them is a whole field to explore and improve yourself into on its own but we are offering you at least the basic principles for making a winning shot.
Fashion photography is all about modeling so you have to consider sometimes working with people you barely know. Try to make your models comfortable, otherwise their tension will affect your photographs. A proper sense of humor will do the work of making them feel relaxed and safe.
Preparation of all the elements of the scene – clothes, garments, hairstyling and requisite – will spare you unnecessary buzz in the heat of the action, and will allow you to concentrate only on the most important thing – creating the best shot.
Be ready to give advises or make suggestions for posing to your model – you could create a really good image even if you are not working with professional fashion models, but with children or amateurs. If you are shooting in the studio you can control the light conditions and in this case don’t forget to meter all areas of the scene to avoid shadows.
Depicting the beauty of nature could make really stunning and un-doubtfully inspiring photos. But if you want to succeed you have to prepare as much as possible – first, for the terrain you will be shooting at, and second, for the unexpected challenges you might meet.
Bring all the necessary protection for your gear with you. While you might not have the most advanced tools, you won't be happy if you lost the opportunity for a great shot, because your camera is not functional or because you didn't take the lens you need with you. It might be a good idea to take a tripod with you, especially if you are going on a several-day camping trip to a secluded place.
And finally – shoot in RAW format on the spot and process your images later. RAW images contain a huge amount of information you could reshape to your desired result when you have enough time for that.
Even more as in shooting fashion models, it’s important to help children feel comfortable and create an atmosphere of safety and trust. Keep in mind that most children will not follow your schedule, so have patience and follow them instead! This could lead to some amazing photos. Remember: don’t get them out of sight and keep your camera always ready – children will always surprise you with their creativity in making things anew. Finally – make things fun, don’t push them too hard – it’s important that the children will enjoy the experience as much as you.
As with nature photographs it is important to give yourself enough time to prepare – walk around and perceive your object by all possible angles and perspectives. All perspectives mean different weather conditions as well. Unique shots are not bind to sunny days and cloudless sky. Sometimes rain and diffused or gloomy light could be your allies.
Try to shoot from an unexpected angle to create distinctively different images of already well-known objects.
After choosing what or who will be your object, the technical preparations are essential in type of photography. Choose your lenses carefully – a 50-60 mm lens is suitable in general. Use extension tubes to make the lens focus closer in case you don't have a big budget to buy a macro lens.
Select a small aperture (f/16 or even f/22) to get the most of the depth. Use a "third hand" device to support the position of your objects and to control the background.
Finally – consider the actual point of focus when making a macro photograph. The spot where you choose to focus could be the difference between a good and a bad shot.
6. Wild animals and pets
Our furry, flying of swimming friends make great models for shooting, but present us with some unique challenges too. With domestic animals you have at least the advantage of choosing your location. Ideally this should be an area the animal feels familiar with. This will ensure they will cooperate as much as possible, if you expect them to pose or to play.
Probably the most important rule of all is to level your camera on the same plane as the animal. Be prepare to catch their motions with a fast shutter speed, try to catch the individual character of the animal and include people to enrich the shot to convey better the relationship with them.
Wild animals require different set of skills from the photographer. Here patience is everything! Prepare to spend most of your time waiting for the perfect moment. The long hours in the shelter will repay when you get to know your object and start predicting the movement or behavior of the animals.
Here is also important to protect your gear and remember – nowadays everybody is making great pictures, so don’t look for exotic animals, but rather for exotic type of shot.
While you may have heard a lot of tasteless jokes about shooting your food instead of eating it recently, food photography is a serious business. It’s not easy to be the chef, the stylist and the photographer at the same time so you have to do whatever you could to help yourself. Choose your angle in advance – prepare by deciding what angles and positions you will shoot the food at beforehand.
Surround your main star with equally impressive entourage – don’t just put it on the kitchen table, use fancy silver-laced cutlery, antique jugs or vintage plates, different textures and shapes. Try and place the food upon neutral background – for example grey or black metal tray, or baking paper which will make the more colourful ingredients to stand out.
Wedding photography is a special topic which requires not only great technical skills but also a little bit of a psychology specialization. Remember, people on the wedding expect this is to be an unforgettably happy day and it is in your power as well to help making it such. Be friendly and supportive in order to build rapport with anyone in the party. Your ability to solve problems and think quickly will inevitably gain their trust and cooperation.
Your best strategy is to prepare in advance. Scout the location or locations, get familiar with every detail of the wedding schedule and find an assistant – whether chosen by you or designated by your clients. Finally – be bold, but not obtrusive!
Tripod is not absolutely necessary but is will give the greatest flexibility to get the angles you need. Usually at night when the light is scarce it is necessary to use longer exposures and that too makes the tripod more than welcome gear.
Bring your lens hood with you not only to protect them, but also to minimize lens flares from light entering at angles outside of your frame. Don’t use the flash of your camera; otherwise you risk to get overexposed foreground and dark background. If you want to emphasize an element in the frame, use a flashlight instead.
Night time pictures offer even greater opportunity to play with water, reflections and light. And don’t forget to bring spare batteries on field, because longer exposure will drain them faster than usual.
10. Underwater photography
It's another universe down there! Most of the advices we gave you so far applies here as well, but now you will be in an entirely different environment, so make sure you feel comfortable and safe in it!
Be creative and ready to experiment even more. For example using the flash is not always a necessity underwater. Some of the greatest shots out there have been made without it. Get close to your subject - preferably within 50 cm, because water reduces color, contrast, and sharpness. Use excellent equipment, especially the best lens and strobes you can get.
And one last piece of advice – strictly follow the rules of the contest you have chosen. VOUBS offers you different types of topics from which you can choose, and with the VIPA 2017 already started, you could demonstrate your talents and skills in every field you like. Don’t miss it!
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