Photography is a passion. For many of us in this community, it gives us a chance to express ourselves and discover other great creatives. Here at ViewBug, we want you to share your creations and to help you develop your skills along the way.

How to Win a Picture Contest, According to the Experts

Whether you get involved in our photo contests or enter a competition somewhere else, there are a few things you should know. Keep on reading for some great advice on triumphing in a picture contest.

Say Something

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and photography is all about expression. Use your images to spread a message — and a powerful one at that. Maybe you want to shine a light on a particular issue. Perhaps you want to highlight something you feel is overlooked or unknown. To succeed in a photo contest, your picture must pack a punch. Maria Mann, managing editor of the European Press Agency, says “the first thing a photograph has to do is to make you feel something, whether it’s good, bad, ugly, happy [...] If it’s indifferent, you’re lost”. We couldn’t agree more.

Take Your Time

When photographing nature, It can be difficult to get the perfect shot. The lighting may not be right, the animals may not be where you want them, or the weather could pose a problem. Nature photography, as with all photography, requires patience. You can’t expect to turn up and get the perfect picture right off the bat. Stuart Byles, the winner of our “Water and The Night Photo Contest” did just that. He waited until the lighting and conditions were perfect for the shot he wanted to take and won the grand prize with “The Lifeboat Station”.

Be Unique

It’s important to be unique if you want to win a picture contest. Your work really needs to stand out and be a cut above the rest. More importantly, it needs to be true to you. If too many people are taking the same kind of shots using the same subject, it’s unlikely a similar submission from you will take the prize. Nature photographers Joe and Mary-Ann MacDonald advise photographers to find their niche.

Take your time finding out what you like to take pictures of. Find some unusual subjects or locations, and be prepared to think outside the box. After all, don’t they say that’s where the magic happens?

Composition Is Key

Have you ever seen a photo where the focus seems off? Maybe the most important or interesting element of the photograph is shunted to the side, hidden or blurry. Learning great photo composition is important if you want to win a picture contest.

You must have played tic-tac-toe — that’s noughts and crosses for our British friends — at some point, right? Well, according to Nikon, you should bear this game in mind when taking photos. Imagine that your digital camera’s viewfinder or monitor is divided into squares, like a grid. For great composition, make sure the subject of your photograph is centered at the intersection of four of these imaginary grids.

Don’t Break the Bank

Money isn’t everything: You don’t need the most expensive equipment or an incredibly high-end camera to succeed — that’s not what contests judge! As long as you have the basics and the willingness to do what it takes to take a great image, you can succeed. You can even take great shots with your phone. It’s the vision, effort and emotions you elicit from your photography that count.

Don’t Give Up

You won’t win every competition you enter. What’s important is having the passion, drive and determination to keep going. You worked hard to find your niche, take a shot and, more importantly, put it out there in the world. It’s important to keep at it, even if you don’t succeed the first time.

Developing your craft; staying focused; constantly building your skills — these are the ways that you’ll build up your strengths as a photographer and increase your chances of winning the next time. After all, photography is about creativity and passion. If you want to give up because you don’t win the first competition you enter, then consider whether photography is something you truly enjoy. As you continue to hone and nurture your skills, your time will come.

Enter one of our picture contests now and you could win amazing prizes. If you’re learning the ropes, you can sign up to our photography courses. Good luck!

Want to know how to win a picture contest? Take this amazing advice from award-winning nature photographers to find out how you can get the grand prize.