With over 105,000 members studying iPhotography courses you could be forgiven for thinking that those members who pick up the Photo of the Day accolade or a Weekend Challenge win must be a pro photographer. But in truth, they’re not.
A lot of those students receiving the justified praise are not professional, nor even semi-pro, they are enthusiastic hobbyists who have a big passion for photography and it’s that burning desire to improve that makes them stand out from the crowd.
We’ve put together this brief guide to tell you what we, the iPhotography tutors, look for when selecting a Photo of the Day or Weekend Challenge winner because we assume, that’s what you came here for! And we’ll use some the previous winners as examples.
Now, we have to outline that if you follow these tips, it doesn’t guarantee success but it will quite possibly get you on the short list – surely that’s a step forward?
Let’ start off with our regular Photo of the Day award. On a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the iPhotography tutors scour the members gallery for interesting photographs.
We do our best to drop in on the comments section and give you a big thumbs up or a few helpful tips on your uploads. There are around 100 new images uploaded everyday so we apologise now if we don’t comment on all of them – but that’s where you jump in and throw a nice/handy comment to your course peer!
We LOVE, absolutely love seeing something different. Everyone has seen a picture of the Eiffel Tower, but seeing upside down with a kid doing cool BMX stunts in front of it is eye catching!
What we’re getting at is that the iPhotography Course is designed to push students forwards in their creativity, it’s our core value that we always keep in mind first.
If you can show us a scene wildly different from the rest of the gallery you’ll get noticed. This doesn’t mean we don’t want to see your beautiful and regular wildlife, landscape, portrait and close up photographs that graces the gallery everyday – but just think differently about them.
It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to assume that your photo is sharp looking at it on the back of your camera. In facet every picture looks in focus when it’s 3 inches wide!
So before you upload your shot have a quick look – is it in focus where it needs to be? Are you sure? The biggest killer of any good photograph is blurriness. The reason why is that an audience’s eye is drawn to contrast so if you have sharp and soft (out of focus) areas on your photo it’ll be more eye-catching, whereas if your picture is soft all over, then it just becomes a blur.
Can you tell the story of your picture with as few elements as possible? Our eyes love to look at clean and simple designs, it’s said that less is more, and we agree.
There’s no need to clutter your photograph with extra props or distracting elements that aren’t adding to it, so when you’re looking through your viewfinder stop and think ‘What do I need in my picture?’.
Adjust your position, move some items out of the way, zoom in a little closer or just open the aperture to defocus the background. Don’t let a bad background ruin a good foreground.
Community spirit is what we like to see too, so if we see you interacting regularly and dropping helpful hints and comments on other student’s work and on social media networks then we are a lot more likely to check out your uploads and reward that kind spirit that you show to others. One good turn deserves another they say!
This one is simple. Wonky horizons are the second biggest killer of a photographer so don’t do it! There are easy ways of making a slanted horizon level.
Your photograph shouldn’t be a Picasso where we’ve got to tilt our heads to understand the picture so make sure that the horizontal axis is balanced through your picture; this applies to portraits, still life and action shots as well as landscapes.
If you follow all these points, then you’re sure to catch our eye in the gallery and even if you don’t start picking up Photo of the Day awards straight away we’re sure to keep your hard work in mind!
With our weekly Weekend Challenge issued every Friday the rules are simple; Take the concept, theme or word, mix it up with your imagination and upload the fully baked results to the gallery by 9am on the Monday morning (GMT UK time).
We’ve restated the rules because unfortunately we do see a lot of great entries uploaded on Monday afternoon or even later and we feel bad for those students putting in the effort but missing the deadline.
A lot of the same rules apply for winning Photo of the Day so don’t dismiss them if you want to go for the big prize, but there are a few extra hints we can give you.
This is a simple tip to stay away from the example image. With every Weekend Challenge we issue a picture to help you visualise our challenge, but more often than not some students fall into the trap of taking a very similar picture thinking that that is what we want to see.
It’s quite the opposite, we want you to use that to inspire you, so use that picture as a starting platform to blast off from!
You’ve hopefully picked up a lot of useful information and understanding about photography during your time on the course so use it in these Weekend Challenge. For example, check out this challenge winning image from photographer Paul Brady.
The theme was ‘Suggestion’ and though we liked what the lost £10 note suggested and conjured up in our minds we were also grabbed by the good choice of low angles and his use of strong leading lines in his composition.
He didn’t just tell the story well; he also used his photographer’s eye to do that.
It’s easy to think ‘I’ve got to be in it to win it’ and though that’s true, you probably won’t get as far as you hoped with a 5-year-old photograph that kind of, sort of, almost, barely fits the Weekend Challenge brief.
Now we understand spare time is very limited for everyone these days so 48 hours isn’t always a lot of time to go and take a brand new picture with a brand new brief and have it uploaded in time.
It’s fine to upload a picture you may already have in your recent archive but try to make sure you’re proud of it and it represents your good photography skills rather than it just ticks a box!
This is why we never set a Weekend Challenge that you couldn’t do around you home or town, try to be imaginative on how you could spin the theme to suit your free time and come up with a brand new photo.
We’ve given you an insight to the iPhotography way of thinking. Now it’s a chance for you to run wild with it and get some praise and accolades along the way.
Every winner of our Photo of the Day title gets a photo showcase for 24 hours on the iPhotography dashboard as well as a social media post.
Weekend Challenge winners pick up a 1 day feature on the dashboard and that social media post too!
If you have your own photography page on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram then follow us and tell us to follow you so if you do win. We can tag you in our social media announcements so you can share it with friends and family (and make them jealous!)