41 Top Tips to Winning Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2019 (part 1)

For the last 10 years, Capture magazine has been on a mission to help discover Australasia’s very best emerging talent. During this time, the competition has uncovered and helped boost the careers of numerous emerging photographers from Australia and New Zealand. Now in its 11th year, the call for entries for Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2020 is now open.

The judges

Helping decide the winners, place-getters and Top 10 and Top 20 entries across the nine categories is no easy feat. As such, we rely on the wisdom, experience, and expertise of some of the world’s very finest photographers and industry experts. With such impressive credentials, our judges are suitably qualified for the important role they take on. But don’t take my word, scroll down and have a look at who was on board to help judge the 2018 competition. Stay tuned to learn who our judges for 2019 are.

Feedback matters

Each year, we ask the judges to provide feedback and constructive criticism on the categories they judged so that we can share this invaluable information with you. It’s not designed to provide a warm and fuzzy feeling, but instead be helpful to those about to enter the competition. In the past, advice from the judges has proven invaluable, and paying attention to the comments below will only help to improve your final outcome.

While the tips are broken down by category, the advice is likely to be applicable across multiple genres of photography.

Click here to link to part two.


Winning advice


1. Many of the entries used architecture as a graphic composition element rather than a place that is designed for use, and sitting within a larger context. Architecture exists in place, space, and time. Entries that sought to show it as places in use, in time, and at differing scales were more compelling than those showing it as a still life or lifeless stage set.

2. Don’t have too many images of the same structure. Variety works well, especially in a portfolio assessment such as this.

3. The successful entries demonstrated a consistent vision and strong technical craft to produce an engaging set of images. Several entrants showed good promise but were let down by two or three weaker images in their set.

4. Many photographers failed to describe the building, and used the architecture to invent their own graphic design through details, distortion, and inventive exposure and colour. Architectural photography is about the architect’s creativity, not the photographer’s.

© Geoffrey Goddard. Runner-up, Architecture – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.
© Geoffrey Goddard. Runner-up, Architecture – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.


5. Keep your imagination and creativity at the forefront of your mind when creating images for any art submission.

6. It is very important that the images tell a story and reinforce one’s personal style.

7. It is very important in each portfolio submitted that the selected images tell a story and reinforce one’s personal style across all six images.

8. Portfolios with a strong concept and a lesser focus on a certain technique were successful because of how powerful simplicity can be.

9. I’m looking for originality and intention. Almost any photograph can be considered a piece of art, however the winners that were picked were truly artistic in their endeavours.

© Daniel Anderson.
© Daniel Anderson. Top 10, Art – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.


10. Photography is about storytelling, and this category demands the most narrative attention and focus. Successful portfolios told a visual story in only six images and exhibited a variety of lens and compositional choices that made the stories dynamic.

11. A combination of consistency and an obvious vision is what won me over. Offer the viewer a good selection of images that are visually enticing and convey a clear message that makes them want to know about the story.

12. Remember that you're telling a story, and to select and sequence your images to reflect that. The strongest portfolios made it clear what the story was about, were well crafted with a range of imagery (not all shot from the same distance), and evoked emotion.

13. Successful entrants developed an engaging narrative, telling the story with consistent, evocative imagery. Many entries “looked at” a story, but failed to “tell” that story through their images.

14. I hoped to see more “storytelling”, rather than just a set of images. In general, many of the entries were a set of images that were not always cohesive. Many lacked a compelling story, tension, a beginning, middle, and an end. Many of these images were either portraits or activities, but it was difficult to understand how they were documentary.

© Shelley Reis. Top 10, Documentary/Photojournalism – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.
© Shelley Reis. Top 10, Documentary/Photojournalism – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.


15. The best portfolios showed consistency in not only image selection, but image editing also. Portfolios that combined a mix of monochrome and colour images were generally excluded, as well as those with a variety of unnecessary crops. The same could be said for the choice of editing techniques for no clear reason, other than the vision of the photographer being on solely stand-alone images, instead of images that work together in some way.

16. Don’t have the same model in the same garment for most of the submitted files. Look at what’s trending at the moment in relevant fashion magazine and make sure the collection of images are story-based and flow from one to the next seamlessly.

17. I was looking for images that convey a strong and clear message that demonstrates the vision of the photographer and their ability to combine all the technical attributes of a picture (light, shadow, composition, posing, etc.) to construct a portfolio that speaks to the viewer about the photographers’ story behind the topic of editorial fashion.

18. The common theme I always look for here is consistency and/or versatility. Each portfolio needed to have one or the other, or both if possible. Many portfolios had some amazing single images, but if those images weren’t complimented by other equally strong images, or images that supported the theme or story, they would ultimately be left out of the finalist selection.

© Bri Hammond. Runner-up, Editorial/Fashion – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.
© Bri Hammond. Runner-up, Editorial/Fashion – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.


19. Please avoid clichés: if you’ve seen it before, you can bet the judges have. Without having some unique visual interpretation, it won’t rate.

20. Subject knowledge in terms of season, time of day, and shooting angles is paramount, and lighting will always be king. Don't lean too heavily on techniques and post processing at the expense of good camera craft, as bold, simple compositions with fresh, thoughtful perspective will always shine through.

21. Only submit your best work. Many series contained some great shots but were let down by mediocre fillers.

22. The successful entrants produced elegant, simple, and engaging images that demonstrated consistency of vision and craft.

23. Many of the entries in this category were weakened when adherence to a particular technique overpowered the integrity of the actual subject and composition.

© Arun Sen. Top 10, Landscape – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.
© Arun Sen. Top 10, Landscape – Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2018.

Click here to see part two of this feature.

2018 judging panel

  1. Adrian Dennis – adriandennis.com
  2. Ami Vitale – amivitale.com
  3. Art Streiber – artstreiber.com
  4. Brett Boardman – brettboardman.com
  5. Chris Crisman – crismanphoto.com
  6. Dallas & Sabrina Kolotylo – dallaskolotylo.com
  7. Dan O’Day – danodayphotography.com.au
  8. Derek Swalwell – derekswalwell.com
  9. Ed Peers – edpeers.com
  10. Erwin Olaf – erwinolaf.com
  11. Gary Sheppard – garysheppard.com
  12. George Apostolidis – georgeapostolidis.com
  13. Ignacio Palacios – iptravelphotography.com.au
  14. James Simmons – jamessimmons.com.au
  15. John Gollings – gollings.com.au
  16. Juli Balla – juliballa.com
  17. Kate Geraghty – instagram.com/kate.geraghty
  18. Kelly Tunney – kellytunney.com.au
  19. Kristian Dowling – kristiandowling.com
  20. Krystle Wright – krystlewright.com
  21. Lisa Saad – lisasaad.com
  22. Marcus Bleasdale – marcusbleasdale.com
  23. Matthias Hangst – matthiashangst.com
  24. Mike Kelly – mpkelley.com
  25. Nichole Sobecki – nicholesobecki.com
  26. Nirav Patel – niravpatelphotography.com
  27. Paul Hoelen – paulhoelen.com
  28. Rankin – rankin.co.uk
  29. Ron Haviv – ronhaviv.com
  30. Sally Brownbill – sallybrownbill.com
  31. Samm Blake – sammblake.com
  32. Sean Izzard – seanizzard.com
  33. Tim Griffith – timgriffith.com
  34. Tim Tadder – timtadder.com
  35. William Long – longshots.com.au

Judges for 2019 are still to be finalised.


Details (2019 comp)

Special early-bird pricing available until 13 December 2018, 11:59pm
(Australian Eastern Daylight Time – AEDT).

Final deadline is 14 February 2019, 11:59pm
(Australian Eastern Daylight Time – AEDT).

The prize pool this year, our biggest to date, is over $26,000 in cash and prizes. The overall winner, Australasia's Top Emerging Photographer 2019, will walk away with $2,500 plus a Fujifilm X-H1 camera kit from our major sponsor, Fujifilm, valued at $3,698. Category winners receive $500 plus a prize from the category sponsor, while category runners-up receive a Fujifilm X-A5 & XC15-45mm lens, valued at $899.



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