Top Tips to Winning Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2023 (part 2)
For a decade and a half, 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 countless emerging photographers from Australia and New Zealand. The call for entries in the 15th year of Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2023 is open. Enter now as standard pricing ends 5 February.
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 2022 competition. We were thrilled to have 47 luminaries from the around the world on the juding panel last year. This year we've have 48 judges!
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.
While the tips are broken down by category, the advice is likely to be applicable across multiple genres of photography.
18. Many entries were just three almost identical versions of the same photo. If you’re given three entries in a competition, take advantage of that opportunity.
19. Black and white photography isn’t just desaturated colour; it’s tone, form, shape, texture, and subject all combined so that colour just isn’t necessary. Watch your histograms and don’t clip your blacks and whites.
20. Black and white calls for supreme understanding of tones: just because a camera can capture a seemingly infinite amount of tonal information doesn’t mean we can’t show restraint in our images.
21. If you can see in tones then you’ve won half the battle. Don’t just desaturate an image; go out and shoot with the intention to capture the contrast, tone, and texture as part of the composition. Once this is mastered you can worry about the subject.
22. Work to have a strong thread that holds the series of images together: this could be a place, person, issue, or concept. Returning to the project multiple times over a period of time and narrowing the work along the way is the foundation of doing documentary work. For the final series, avoid redundancy. Each image should further the story, not repeat something you have already communicated in other photographs.
23. The most successful stories displayed not only terrific photography, but taught the viewer something about the subject’s experience. There were stories of both joy and despair, told equally well and from each photographer’s particular visual perspective. For me, seeing how photographers see is one of the great pleasures as a judge.
24. A successful documentary essay draws the viewer into the lives or subject matter that you’re trying to convey. Choosing a story that you believe in is a great starting point. Consider linking images in a consistent style or approach, building the narrative over time. It’s more than a series of similar images created at one event. Considered work that shows a real sense of intimacy and connection to the story and people the photographer is working with is what I’m drawn to most.
25. I found the successful folios gave me a glimpse into the relationship the photographer had with their subject matter, allowing the viewer a true connection into what the photographer was feeling and wanting to communicate. A good documentary photographer has a story to convey and a critical eye for the subject. In some of the folios the ‘rawness’ of the imagery reinforced the subject matter to stylistically create an intimate ‘fly on the wall’ approach allowing relatability for the viewer to the photographer’s story.
26. A series of documentary images should give the viewer a glimpse into a special story, an insight into a larger picture, leaving you wanting to see more.
27. The top entries were evocative, considered, had a beginning, middle, and end, and the words that went beside them supported the work.
28. In some entries, individual images were beautifully composed, but did not gel for me as a series.
29. When it comes to documentary photography, the skill is your ability to present a pictorial narrative; the photographs should speak for themselves – the accompanying words should only elaborate...
30. Regardless of where you go to make images, the most important tool you can ever take with you is your own personal vision and understanding of the world. Don’t just be a facsimile machine, capturing whatever is in front of you; learn to see, process and empathise with the environment around you, and then convert those feelings into a sophisticated and emotional response.
31. While there were many highly commended images demonstrating sound camera craft and very strong compositions, it was images that presented something ‘different’ and ‘new’ to the judge that were awarded. It was these images that stood out and captivated the judges’ attention.
32. The landscapes I found most engaging were of a lyrical and poetic nature. They were evocative, mysterious, and atmospheric without being cliched. There seemed a deeper, personal connection to the landscapes they were depicting. Finding the essence of a landscape involves spending time observing it, developing a relation to it, and then capturing its distinct elements.
33. What would often cancel a portfolio for me was there would be multiple formats and horizon lines all over the place that just didn’t work. Some images were overcooked in Photoshop, but I tried not to allow bad Photoshop skills to influence my estimation of the potential of the images.
34. A number of the images felt technique driven, and a lot of the techniques used were employing the old tropes. It felt to me the photographers were relying on a style. Numerous images felt like the photographers were making post cards, rather than looking for a connection to the landscape.
35. Technique alone will only take you so far. Combine it with mood, style, impact, and some narrative, or even simple aesthetic, and you have the recipe for strong and memorable imagery.
36. Interestingly, given our recent history of extreme weather events, there were very few images that reflected on climate change. Most were spectacular affirmations of nature’s beauty, rather than the disturbing realities unfolding in our landscapes. This might be worthy of consideration for future entries.
37. Some portfolios were let down by weak images in the set. Some individual images were so good that on their own they could have been winners. When viewing each portfolio, there had to be connection in the set.
38. The stand-out images weren’t only technically impeccable, they were emotionally evocative as well.
39. The qualities that rose to top of the landscape portfolios involved intentional narrative, unmistakeable visual impact, a sense of innovation in either the choice of subject matter or the presentation, joining thread or cohesive aspect of style, and, of course, consistent image calibre across all three images
40. While many of the entries were extremely competent and technically adventurous, they relied too much on the wow factor of tricky effects, over-saturated colours with landscapes that appeared all too perfect – like a series of screensavers. Some environments were visually complex with extraordinary colour palettes, but there was too much emphasis given to colour or abstract patterns which became the overall subject of the work.
2022 judging panel
The following amazing photographers were on the judging panel for 2022. We'll be announcing the 2023 judging panel shortly.
Adrian Cook – www.tintypecentral.com
Alan McFetridge – www.alan-mcfetridge.com
Alex Cearns – www.houndstoothstudio.com.au
Amy Toensing – www.amytoensing.com
Anne Zahalka – zahalkaworld.com.au
Anthony McKee – www.anthonymckee.com.au
Belinda Richards – www.frogdogstudios.com.au
Chris Budgeon – www.chrisbudgeon.com
Chris Ireland – www.christopherireland.net
Chris Tovo – www.christophertovo.com
Danny Eastwood – www.dannyeastwood.com
Eolo Perfido – www.eoloperfido.com
George Apostolidis – georgeapostolidis.com.au
Hilary Wardhaugh – www.hwp.com.au
Howard Schatz – www.howardschatz.com
Hugh Peachey – www.hughpeachey.com
Isamu Sawa – www.isamusawa.com.au
John Gollings – www.gollings.com.au
John Moore – www.instagram.com/jbmoorephoto
Josh Holko – jholko.com
Karen Alsop – storyart.com.au
Ken Duncan – www.kenduncan.com
Krystle Wright – www.krystlewright.com
Lisa Maree Williams – www.lisamareewilliams.com
Lori Cicchini – www.loriana.com.au
Lynton Crabb – www.crabb.com.au
Natalie Grono –nataliegrono.com
Patrick Brown – www.patrickbrownphoto.com
Paul Hoelen – www.paulhoelen.com
Peter Brew-Bevan – www.peterbrew-bevan.com
Rankin – www.rankin.co.uk
Ricardo Da Cunha – www.ricardodacunha.com.au
Roland Halbe – www.rolandhalbe.de
Sally Brownbill – www.thebrownbilleffect.com
Samantha Everton – samanthaeverton.com
Simon Harsent – www.simonharsent.com
Steve Greenaway – www.stevegreenaway.com
Steve Winter – www.stevewinterphoto.com
Tim Booth – www.timbooth.com
Tim Griffith – www.timgriffith.com
Tim Tadder – www.timtadder.com
Toby Meagher – www.michaelreid.com.au
Tony Hewitt – www.tonyhewitt.com
Troy Goodall – www.troygoodall.com
Vincent J Musi – vincentjmusi.com
William Long – www.longshots.com.au
William Snyder – www.williamsnyderphotography.com
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