Top Tips to Winning Australasia's Top Emerging Photographers 2023 (part 3)

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. Below is a collection of the very best advice provided by the judges for the Portrait and Single Shot categories. You can find their more advice that relates to the other categories in Part 1 and Part 2 of this feature. 

© Richard Tonkin. Top 10 (Single Shot) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.
© Richard Tonkin. Top 10 (Single Shot) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.

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 2022 competition. This year, we're thrilled to have 48 luminaries from the around the world on the judging panel. Follow this link to see the full list.

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.

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


Winning advice


 41. A great portrait should connect the viewer and the subject. As a viewer I should feel something about the person; I should feel as if there is some kind of narrative to the picture.

42. I love to see portraits that I can’t look away from. When an image can capture my attention and leave me with more questions than before I saw it, the photographer has done their job.

43. The challenge is to make three portraits of three different people or ideas, and do it in a way that reveals your style and vision in all three.

© Karen Sharman 4th (Portrait) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.
© Karen Sharman 4th (Portrait) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.

44. Portraiture isn't about taking a likeness of someone, but creating an image that conveys the subject’s essence, or part of it. This can be achieved by understanding who you are photographing, communication with your sitter while shooting, and even the environment the sitter is in.

45. I still love to be challenged as to what a portrait actually is. A great portrait doesn't necessarily need to be composed well, be technically sound, or even show your subject in the frame, it just needs to convey their soul.

46. The portfolios that stood out the most were from the photographers that connected with their subjects. A successful portrait image allows the audience to feel and think about that photograph and want to learn more.

© Jennifer Blau. 3rd (Portrait) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.
© Jennifer Blau. 3rd (Portrait) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.

47. I was drawn to the classic and to the unique, and most of all to the images where the subjects communicated with me.

48. It would have been nice to see people push traditional boundaries a bit more. A good portrait should tell an intriguing story about the subject.

49. There were submissions with definite winning individual portraits in them, but they didn’t rank because there were others in the series that clearly didn’t belong. Remember to be ruthless in your selection. One image might mean a lot to you, but if it doesn’t work with the others, it has to go.

50. A portrait can take many forms, there is however an x-factor quality in all truly great portraits. A sense that a revealing moment has transpired, been captured, and shared for all to see. Sometimes, it’s those in-between moments when photographing that can produce the most striking portraits.

51. A good portrait provides an answer. A brilliant portrait raises questions and makes us think.

52. Portraiture is a collaboration between two people – the photographer and the sitter. It is important to remember that for a successful portrait the subject’s real nature must be present, and this occurs when there is communication happening between the two.

53. Cohesiveness should be considered across all of the images within the portfolio. Each photo should be as strong as the next in the set, but still remain consistent.

© Alice Mariette. Top 10 (Portrait) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.
© Alice Mariette. Top 10 (Portrait) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.


54. I’m always looking for a strong ‘wow’ moment that makes me look twice. A single image needs to tell the whole story. I’m looking for something different with impact and strong composition.

55. The best photographers were able to capture a moment (of action or stillness) and transport the viewer into that moment.

© Tim Burgess. 4th (Single Shot) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.
© Tim Burgess. 4th (Single Shot) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.

56. Impact, emotional engagement, innovation, a clearly decisive moment, multiple layers of interpretation, and originality of perspective and presentation are some of the factors that allow an image to rise through the wider set beyond the solid necessities of technical prowess, design, and well considered composition that any highly awarded image needs to begin with.

57. For this category, immediate impact is key, coupled with originality and a display of technical understanding.

58. Images that make you stop, look, and wonder, while all executed with a high standard of editing and craft were the ones that caught my attention.

© Dani Watson. Top 10 (Single Shot) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.
© Dani Watson. Top 10 (Single Shot) – Australasia’s Top Emerging Photographer 2022.

59. The best images offered the audience clever and well considered ideas delivered with flawless execution. Sadly, many other great images in this category didn’t make the cut simply because they were let down by average technique and execution. To be a great photographer, you really need to be good at everything, from concept to post.

60. Images that rise to the top tend to have strong graphic content and flawless technical execution. Photographs that show me something I haven’t seen before in quite the same way make an impression.


2022 judging panel

The following amazing photographers were on the judging panel for 2022.

Follow this link to see the brilliant panel we've assembled for 2023.

Adrian Cook –
Alan McFetridge –
Alex Cearns –
Amy Toensing –
Anne Zahalka –
Anthony McKee –
Belinda Richards –
Chris Budgeon –
Chris Ireland –
Chris Tovo –
Danny Eastwood –
Eolo Perfido –
George Apostolidis –
Hilary Wardhaugh –
Howard Schatz –
Hugh Peachey –
Isamu Sawa –
John Gollings –
John Moore –
Josh Holko –
Karen Alsop –
Ken Duncan –
Krystle Wright –
Lisa Maree Williams –
Lori Cicchini –
Lynton Crabb –
Natalie Grono –
Patrick Brown –
Paul Hoelen –
Peter Brew-Bevan –
Rankin –
Ricardo Da Cunha –
Roland Halbe –
Sally Brownbill –
Samantha Everton –
Simon Harsent –
Steve Greenaway –
Steve Winter –
Tim Booth –
Tim Griffith –
Tim Tadder –
Toby Meagher –
Tony Hewitt –
Troy Goodall –
Vincent J Musi –
William Long –
William Snyder –



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