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Taking Winning Pictures

May 13, 2014

Pictures of you, your baking, your kids, your pets, even your shoes! They can all win you great free stuff like holidays, cash and even to win a car!
But how do you take a great picture? A winning picture? A great competition winning shot that is creative and fills the brief?
1. Forget about fancy equipment. 
These days, a smart phone is all you need. Learn the settings to get the most out your mobile phone. Many come with different resolutions (set it to high), filters, tonal ranges and functions to assist in taking that competition winning shot. Just don't forget to clean your lens.
2.  Know what the judges are after before you shoot. 
Check out not just the terms and conditions of the competition, but other entries into the prize draw so you know what you are up against. And also consider the promoter and product. For example don't include a competitor's brand of oven in the background!
3. Prepare the scene with an editing eye. 
Remove unwanted clutter from the background. If you are taking pictures of your masterchef cupcakes, get rid of the opened packets of ingredients, dirty dishes and stained tea towel. Make sure the surface is clean. Taking a pic of the dog outside? Move the bins.
3. Take more than just two shoots.
Keeping your subject at eye level, experiment with positioning of your subject/s and keep shooting. For example, start with different numbers of cupcakes on a plate, then have one cut open etc. On the screen these images make look very different.
4. Source great, not just good, light!
Avoid harsh direct sunlight which will only make people squint and create shadows over your pictures. Wait until it is overcast, or shoot in the shade for the winning edge. Indoors, using outdoor light may be preferable over the yellow shadows emitted from indoor lights. Try turning off the lights and shooting as close as possible to windows for the best use of use natural light indoors.
5. Take note of entry requirements.
Here we mean the entry file sizes and types. How big your file must be submitted, and what type. This will save you hours trying to upload the impossible at entry time. Check if you need to convert your file to, for example, a JPEG image, or a BMP or TIF? Does it need to be not only a certain resolution size? You can’t win if you don’t follow the rules, of if the judges can’t open your image.

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