Category: Clients

Tips for Entering Photo Contests from a Serial Submitter

Photo contests and juried competitions are a big part of the photographic community. Longtime DCP client Jill Jordan has navigated this scene and has had her work selected for several competitions. We asked her to share some tips on why it’s important to participate and how to hedge the odds in your favor:

There comes a time where a photographer asks, should I enter a contest? As an amateur photographer myself I get much pleasure out of making the best image I can given the lighting, situation, and setting. Dallas Center for Photography has made me a better photographer through workshops and teaching me to become my own worst critic. I get great enjoyment when I have created an image that is well composed with interesting subjects. Sometimes self-satisfaction is not enough. Posting my images to Instagram allows me to share more broadly. I get “likes” from various people whose motivation or understanding of photography is unknown. Contests can provide a sense of achievement when an image is selected by a known professional photographer with the added benefit of providing motivation to continue to improve skills. However, there are things to consider when entering a contest.

This image was the first one I got accepted into an exhibit. After spending a summer in the cool, isolating North Carolina mountains, I was eager to go shooting so I attended the Texas State Fair. I felt like I was melting in the heat and found I wasn’t alone. This poor steer handler was having trouble keeping the sweat out of his face. Clearly the steer wasn’t fazed.

The world of contests is seemingly endless these days. There are some local contests as well as international contests to enter. Using Google is a good place to find one. Nearly all contests charge a fee to submit anywhere from 1 to 5 images. The typical fee is currently is around $35. Contests will post the theme and a biography of the juror. Themes will vary from portraits to wildlife to landscape to street photography to black and white to… the list goes on. Often a small number of winners are selected along with a limited number of honorable mentions. Most, but not all, contests offer cash prizes. Selected images are then displayed in a physical exhibition for a period of 3-4 weeks.

Prior to entering a contest, I have found it helpful to do some research on the juror and their style. I will also review previous contest selections to see the types of images that have been selected. Things to look for are contests that favor more artistic photography versus documentary. Enter which best suits your craft and stick with the theme. Particular attention should be paid to the requirements for file naming and file size to assure your images will be accepted.

I’d noticed a large number of birds roosting in trees so I set out at sunrise to make my image. Suddenly they flew out together and I captured them in flight above the power lines. The clouds above added more layers and I received a second place award for it.

One of a juror’s responsibilities is to choose images that not only relate to the named theme but also complement each other while providing different styles. This is important when the images are displayed in a gallery to assure a cohesive experience for the viewers of the show. There are many fantastic images that don’t get selected because they just don’t fit in.

If your image is chosen, you will be notified by email. Each contest will have its own requirements for receiving the final print. Some will print your image for you for a cost. Some will frame your image in temporary frame for you while others will require you to send a framed image. All will have a short but sufficient time period to assure your print can arrive on time. Understanding these requirements and being prepared will ease the stress. Then comes the fun. You will be invited to the show opening at the gallery. If possible, I encourage you to attend. It is a great opportunity to tell the story behind your image to many interested people, and to meet the juror and other fellow photographers. Finally, of course, you will feel proud of work that undoubtedly was the result of your technical knowledge and creativity.

As part of a Sam Abell workshop assignment I had to find interesting images to make. I found this outside of a hair salon. The loving moment between the woman and her dog was the perfect gesture to capture. However this image was not accepted in a contest.

Should your image not be chosen, do not let it stop you from entering more. There can be hundreds or thousands of worthy entries. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen for some but not for others. When I’m not chosen, I just move on to the next contest. If you are thinking of entering a contest, I highly encourage you. If you’re not sure, I suggest giving it a try. Asking other photographers for help in choosing images can be helpful. Just give it a “shot” and you may be surprised to find yourself standing in front of your print in a gallery on opening night!

Jill Jordan

Instagram: @jilljordanimagery

You can also view her work in our Client Gallery here.

The Art & Business of Food Blogging

In early September Lauren Palmer was scrolling through Facebook and a familiar picture popped up on a friend’s feed. It was a picture of pastel macarons. Macarons she had purchased. They were sitting on one of her plates; on her dining room table; looking as gorgeous as they would had they come from Ladurée, Mad Macs or some other exquisite bakery–not the frozen section of Trader Joe’s where she had actually found them.

The picture-shot by her beloved friend and photographer, Patrizia Montanari, was promoting a class Patrizia would teach for Dallas Center for Photography called The Art and Business of Food Blogging. The Art and Business. Business. The title resonated with Lauren. We asked her to share her experience with us:

I’m not a food blogger per se. Well, not just a food blogger. My website, The Art of Living Beautifully, is an online lifeStyle hub where fashion, entertaining and yes food intertwine to inspire. This non-tech creative started a website in 2014 and has literally been tripping forward for 2 years, not knowing how to get there or even where she was going, but the determination to continue creating each week has outweighed the logic. The most difficult part though? Not knowing what I don’t know.

I signed up for the workshop where Patrizia would teach photography, Coryanne Ettiene owner of Ettiene Culinary Market would teach the business side of food blogging, and Rebecca White creator of A Pleasant Little Kitchen and foodie contributor for The Dallas Morning News would share her knowledge of the art of food styling.

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Photo Credit: Lauren Palmer

Five minutes till 9:00 I arrived at Ettiene Market with 10 other bloggers. I watched as they unloaded camera bags and lenses and sexy little MacBook Pros–I had shoved my tiny Olympus in my purse with a small notebook and my ancient laptop which weighs approximately 9 pounds. Class began on time in Coryanne’s market. It truly was the ideal setting to absorb foodie inspiration: French cup towels, cast iron pots with a golden hue, giant tea cups branded DARLING and SUGAR stacked in haphazard towers. It is rustic and honest and a home cook’s dreamy-est dream.

“I’m in the mood to receive a check for $6000 today” Coryanne said. I smiled. I liked her already. She began her segment by encouraging us to treat our blogs like a business, not just a hobby or creative outlet. Seek collaborators, fill in gaps, look for opportunities, reach out, do the work, diversify, be authentic, honest and open, take chances. Success doesn’t just happen for bloggers. We have to create it, look for it and be smart about it. She told me things I didn’t know, while reminding me of parts that I did, but had just forgotten.  Her knowledge was vast. Her experience, coveted. Her involvement in this workshop was priceless.

Patrizia took over after Coryanne and gave us a quick lesson on camera anatomy. Light, color, composition, story-telling–these are the components that make a great photograph, she told us in her lovely Italian accent. Also remember light is the other subject of the image. Be very aware of it and use it to your advantage. She was even able to demonstrate photo editing in Lightroom, all the while encouraging us to develop our eye and see our photographs differently.

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Photo Credit: Lauren Palmer

Market Street Supermarket graciously provided lunch for the attendees, which we could also use as subjects for practice. We spread out, ate and took a few shots before Rebecca White began her words on food styling–which for me was the most fun part of the day. I had no idea that photographs should be well thought out before hand, and that they should communicate your brand as well as show a particular food. It shouldn’t be just a picture of spaghetti. The picture of spaghetti should also tell what makes your blog unique: moody, colorful, glamorous, simple, kid-friendly etc…Rebecca had so many ideas and tips on how to create photographs that become your own personal thumbprint.

By the end of the day, I was overflowing with knowledge and fearful I would forget some of the precious wisdom I had just attained. I was also exhausted and starving. On my way to grab some Thai food take-out before heading home, I used what brain power I had left to process the day. The biggest takeaway I had was the simple reminder to seek help if you struggle somewhere. Look to places like Dallas Center for Photography for guidance. Take a class. Engage in a workshop and meet others who are in your same shoes. As bloggers and photographers our jobs can feel so lonely, so isolated. My day at Ettiene Market was a refreshing change to my typical island of one work day. Thank you DCP. Thank you to Coryanne and Rebecca. E grazie mille por la tua amicizia Patrizia.

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Lauren Palmer

www.theartoflivingbeautifully.net

Instagram: @theartoflivingbeautifully

 

 

 

Sam Abell Image Critique

This past October National Geographic photographer Sam Abell returned to DCP for an afternoon of image critiques. Sam started his presentation by sharing some of his life’s work and explaining why these specific images meant the most to him. His biggest message was to take the photos that are most important to you. As he flipped through the slideshow he shared stories of his artistic search and intimately described some of the most difficult times in his photographic life.

After his presentation, Sam turned his insight towards the work of the students. Over the next hour and a half Sam critiqued two to three images of each of the 24 participants. Photos ranged from travel photography to geometric landscapes to intimate portraits. Sam’s comments included what he liked about each image and gave suggestions on how he may have photographed the situation differently to make the image stronger. He encouraged students to slow down and compose the image and then wait for the action to happen. He shared that the photos that work well are the ones where the subject’s head is above the horizon line and they have their own space and room to tell the story.

Whenever Sam is working with images he always wants the projector to be placed so his shadow can enter into the frame. There is something magical about watching him step into an image and use his hands to call out details, crop out something he finds distracting or point out some small change that would make the image more powerful. By entering into the photograph he can clearly communicate the concept he is wanting to illustrate.

Here are a few images of Sam critiquing photographs along with the students’ comments about the experience:

Sam Abell critiques Frank Richards’ Photo

Sam Abell critiquing Frank Richards' photo

“Sam has an uncanny ability to hone in on the essence of an image – commenting both on what makes an image work and how it might be improved. I do not normally shoot photojournalistic type images like Sam’s but have been able to easily apply the principles he teaches to my work. I like that he focuses on a few powerful concepts that can be easily grasped and when successfully applied have really improved my work.” – Frank Richards

 

Sam Abell critiques Tracy Allard’s Photo

Sam Abell critiquing Tracy Allard's photo

“I like that Sam sees value in many types of images; not just landscape, or portrait etc. I learn from every image that he critiques. He’s really made me think about what makes an image “mine”. I am still trying to find my voice and style but I think I’m getting closer the more that I’m exposed to.” – Tracy Allard

 

Sam Abell critiques Neil Resnik’s Photo

Sam Abell critiquing Neil Resnik's photo

“I was fascinated by his ability to look at a picture and point out things about the composition that I would never notice. For example he would point out the little spaces between subjects or the space at the top of a photo and how it made a difference in the photo. Sam’s critique of my work was very affirming. It was helpful to see my photos through the eyes of another with his skill.” – Neil Resnik

 

Sam Abell critiques Robert Moore’s Photo

Sam Abell critiquing Robert Moore's photo

“I enjoyed Sam talking about his own story, his own struggle trying to be “commercial” and yet be true to himself. Connecting his work images with his personal outlook on life was very touching.” – Robert Moore

Ed Kashi Near and Far Workshop

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Photojournalist Ed Kashi spent four days at DCP teaching his Near and Far Workshop where participants exercised their story telling muscles by photographing topics close to home. Ed is president of the VII Photo Agency and is best known for his long form photo essays which bring awareness and explore a situation or a problem. Some of his current work includes an in depth look at Chronic Kidney Disease in Central America in sugar cane workers. His work has been published in publications such as National Geographic, Time, Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine.

During the four days, students had the opportunity to develop an idea for a photo essay, shoot, edit and present a complete story. Projects ranged from an afternoon at a gun range, to preparation for a ballet performance to the life inside an apartment complex of Burmese immigrants. Ed provided guidance on how to approach each situation and taught how to develop a body of work that clearly communicates the story. During a group editing session led by Ed, each participant’s story was pieced together to form a cohesive, engaging photo essay.

Here’s what some of our students had to say about the workshop:

“I find myself falling to the rut of only taking meaningful pictures while on vacation. The concept that you don’t have to go far from home to capture great images was speaking directly to me.” – Tracy Allard

“I was forced to do a lot of fast work in order to get the pictures I needed. This experience game me the confidence to do future project down the road.” – Cristian Heredia

“Ed was very easy to talk to and relate with which made asking questions and seeking guidance easier. His critiques were direct which I like and made sense to me and made it easier for me to dissect my own work.” – Robert Moore

Here’s Tracy Allard’s finished photo essay “Home on the Range”:

Ciao from Italia!

Our Natural Light Portrait teacher, Patrizia Montanari, has been spending her summer in her home country of Italy. She sent us this note along with some of the photos she’s taken:

Dear Peter,

It’s been two months since I left Texas to visit Italy after four years of absence. It has been amazing and I found myself rediscovering this colorful and folkloristic country with new eyes. My journey so far has been interesting, challenging (as I am traveling with two small children), emotional and regenerating. I have a love-hate relationship with my home land, I appreciate the way it is and the way it will never be. Mostly I enjoy all it is giving me, the smell, the taste, the history, the family and the multitude of dialects, I am absorbing it all, and save it for my return to Texas.

As you know, before my departure I spoiled my self with a new camera, a Fujifilm X100T, which it has been my best friend since I landed in Milan. It’s a fantastic tool, it’s with me all the time and the quality of the images is sublime and never disappoints me.

I have been traveling all over Italy quite a lot and got so much inspiration from places and people. I have been taking trips to the Alps, the Riviera Ligure, the hills of Tuscany, the country side of Umbria and the gorgeous Island of Sicily. I have been bouncing from loving to photograph landscape to finding gorgeous light to photograph people. Location scouting requires no effort here and most of the time I am actually crying for a model.

I am grateful for the art of photography and what I am doing to preserve these memories, I am also grateful for hashtags, #lamiaitaly will always remind me of this wonderful trip.

I hope you are loving your Texas summer,
A presto, ciao
Patrizia

You can following Patrizia’s adventure on Instagram by following @patriziamontanari.

 

“We were snowmobiling in the middle of nowhere”

A client of ours is with her husband in Longyearbyen, Norway. She’s there to shoot the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). We asked her to send back a photo of their trip so far and this is what we got yesterday. The “rig” mentioned at the end is the Noorderlicht, a ship frozen in the ice that has been converted to lodging.

“We were snowmobiling in the middle of nowhere and stopped at a frozen water fall and there was a man there taking video. Turns out he’s a German photographer making some movie/book. Anyway we pulled in and he had also just gotten there to shoot the frozen fall, but he left his battery back in the town. He had a brand new D 4 S, but he borrowed my body to get the shots as I had battery. Then he rode off in his snow mobile and told me that I’d get a free copy of his book! It was pretty cool, so that’s what the one photo is. The other is of our “rig”, the ship frozen in the ice”.

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