BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Denise Jiles


I have submitted many photos in the photo contest and have never won. I have the free gallery. I have noticed that all the winners have the deluxe gallery or premium gallery. Do people who just have the free gallery not win these contest?

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3/17/2006 11:56:39 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  I won in 2003 and I have the basic gallery. I don't believe for a moment that owning a deluxe or premium is a consideration of the judges.

I looked at your gallery. There are some nice images but, maybe, there's no winner. Judging any image is a very subjective thing.

Some judges want highly saturated images. Others are looking for adherence to photography rules [like the Rules of Thirds.] Still others have their own quirks - I had a great [I thought] slide of a skyrocket thrown out of a competition because the judge said he "hated fireworks pictures."

Too many people don't critique their own work harshly enough. Still others ask friends to critique their work - these friends may not provide the proper constructive criticism [Oooh, it's good!]

In some ways, it's too bad that the judges' assessments of the winning images aren't more readily available. Whenever I've looked at the discussion section for a given winner, I've been unable to identify the judge's comments. That's not to say they are in the list somewhere, I just haven't been able to locate them.

Keep trying. Even the best photographer isn't going to produce a winner every time. But, keep looking at and assessing the winners. At some point, one of your images will win a contest. But, remember, it might not be in When I won, that contest boasted over 15,000 entries. Today, I can't hazard a gues at how many entries there are.

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3/17/2006 12:40:03 PM

Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
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  What kind of gallery you have has nothing to do with how you do in the contest. Back in the day when I started, there were no free galleries, and I won before I had any sort of a gallery at all. Of course there were a lot less entries per month back then, too. With the amount of shots they have to go through and the number of slots available there are a LOT of wonderful shots that don't get picked. If you really think you have a winner, wait a while and resubmit it. I've had several finalists on resubmits and a lot of other people have, too. (One Grand Prize winner was a third time resubmit). Just depends on who the judges are that month and their own particular preferences. Don't give up.

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3/17/2006 12:53:53 PM

Slim Brady 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/1/2006
  You'll get one. Just try to keep shots natural or if you have to PS it. For example (telephone wires). Use a Tripod, get the ISO you want by using the timer 2sec or 10sec. The grain is getting better and better every year , so that'll go away.

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3/17/2006 1:05:04 PM

Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  You do not have to buy anything to win in the contest. I've seen members speculate they needed to take courses to win or they needed to buy a gallery to win. This is all bunk. Study books on photography and keep submitting. You'll get there.

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3/17/2006 2:11:41 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Many of the Premium Gallery owners probably won them by placing second in this contest,...after having only free galleries or like Carolyn,...none at all.

The competition is very stiff now, given the increasing number of entries each month. When I started around three years ago there were three to five thousand entries each month.... now there are over 22,000.

The judging standards for excellence are very strict also, (as they should be,...lest the judges and BP get lambasted when that less-than-perfect image happens to slip through).

The challenge in winning makes the victory more credible.
If it were easy,...would it be as much fun?

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3/17/2006 3:13:43 PM

Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
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  Bob is right! I won my premium gallery as a second place prize way back in 2001 on a shot done with a 1.6 MP camera. There were only around 2-3000 shots in a month back then. I'm sure many of us would never have a gallery at all if we didn't win it.

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3/17/2006 3:23:32 PM

Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  I purchased my gallery before winning, but the way I look at it is a gallery costs less than most photography magazines for a year and I have a heck of a whole lot more fun with my gallery than I do the magazines. It takes me about 30 minutes a month to read each one of my photography magazines.

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3/17/2006 3:32:01 PM

Kerby Pfrangle
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/19/2005
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Kerby's Gallery
  Denise when I first joined Better Photo I joined with a free Gallery put nine pictures in the first month and won a second place. (That gave me a premium gallery for the second month).

See the little picture beside my name I call it Windy and that was the picture I won with.


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3/17/2006 6:28:01 PM

Diane Dupuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  The number of entries has doubled since I joined a few years ago. The competition is very tough. You need to read up as much as you can on photography - go to the library, search on the internet. There are many great sites with tips on how to compose your shots, avoid common pitfalls, etc. Then spend an hour or two studying past winners and finalists. They are a great inspiration and gives you an idea of what the judges are looking for.
So study study study then practice practice practice. And only enter your best work.
When you do finally make the top 3 or 4% of close to 25,000 entries - you'll be thrilled!

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3/18/2006 4:43:14 AM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  Before I became an instructor for betterphoto, I was playing around with the site using the free gallery, and I entered the contest to see how everything worked. I ended up winning a second place for one of my entries, got the Premium gallery, and have enjoyed the site so much I decided to ask about teaching some of the techniques from my books.

For those several months I never let on that I was an author, professional image editor, photography book editor/designer, and had written for Popular Photography. I am probably not the only person enjoying betterphoto who has professional credentials that just was enjoying the betterphoto experience--in fact there seem to me to be very many serious amateurs along with many pros here. That certainly makes the contest challenging! having won my gallery because of the free gallery, I can say that you can certainly place in the contest and win it using a free gallery only.

The only advice I might venture to give is: If you have had some photos that you have repeatedly entered and not won with, try swapping them out for some new images. Always look to improve your gallery over-all.

I think the best part of betterphoto is the community and the ability to learn from other shooters/imaging professionals--whether you know they are there or not! The contest is a great motivator. I think it is a great venue. hang in there and keep entering and improving. Eventually you will see your images amongst the winners.

PS -- anyone who needs help improving their photo process and image editing, see my new course on processing images: Photoshop Elements Workflow. You can use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to learn about a step-by-step methods to enhancing your images and improve them with confidence every time!

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3/19/2006 6:31:11 AM

Denise Jiles   Wow!!!! Thanks so much for the great response to my question. Everyone made me feel like a real person asking a question and not just "another question". I do appreciate all the advice and will put it to good use. I recently found a great spot to shoot it is near a boardwalk we once had before Rita paid us a visit. I have found so much wildlife there I love going there and will be posting some of my shots. All advice is appreciated. Thanks again.


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3/19/2006 5:34:54 PM

Kristy A. Keene
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/29/2006
  I have a free gallery, But that's not keeping me down, I have seen some finalists in free galleries. I hope someday I will have a finalist! But I think the best thing to do is keep trying! You never know which shot will catch the judges attention! Good Luck!

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3/20/2006 11:05:56 AM

Daniel Diaz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/20/2005
  13 Finalists but no gold yet, am I discouraged, nope, just keep plugging away and learn as much as you can. I also have a free gallery. I'm too poor to buy one LOL.

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3/20/2006 12:13:39 PM

Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
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Carolyn 's Gallery
  Geez, Danny, they only cost one carton of cigarettes! A good reason to quit~

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3/20/2006 12:28:29 PM

Daniel Diaz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/20/2005
  Hahahaha Carolyn, you are right. I am trying to quit though :(

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3/20/2006 12:33:29 PM

Sachin D. Das
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/12/2006
  I was deeply moved by 'daddy's hands.' I think the judges are looking for techniques used in the pictures and not necessarily the emotion involved. However I do value the emotion in the picture for they tell a story and that is perhaps the first function of a photograph.


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3/21/2006 10:37:07 PM

Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/19/2006

I viewed your gallery and saw a few really interesting shots. However, quite a few of them were little more than snapshots. If you are okay with taking some creative criticism here from a friend and fellow photo enthuisiast. The essential to a unique photograph isn't just simply snapping a picture of what seems to be an interesting subject, but rather, in seeing something interesting in a subject that isn't readily apparent to the normal viewer.
Compared to the human eye/brain combination, the camera is quite limited. But one of it's limitations is also it's asset. That is selective viewing. When we view a scene, our brain takes in the whole scene. A camera on the other hand, has a way of selecting a particular subject in that scene and that is what will stand out to the viewer of the photograph.
Many people who have seen my nature and flower pictures comment how they had never seen that flower like that. The camera has a way of zeroing in on something that we normally take for granted when viewing the same subject in real life.
One of the keys to successful photography is visualization. More than just snapping a shot. It's the ability to see something unique in a certain composition and then being able to transfer that to a medium. Ansel Adams was one of the masters at visualization and even though he worked exclusively in B&W, the concept of perception, visualization and transference are the same.
Just for starter though, when you see something of interest you want to photograph, before pushing the button, evluate the subject and identify what it is, in particular, that caught your attention. Then try to visualize, pin point if you will, how the picture will turn out and what if anything you can do to enhance it. This may include anything from cropping with a zoom lens to composing the shot off center, on center. You may even want to take a number of shots of the same subject using different compositions, different focal lengths and you may even want to try bracketing your exposures. Even the same scene taken at different exposures can make a difference in the way the final print comes out and the sense or mood you may be trying to convey in the print.
But like everyone else said in their responses, don't give up, keep shooting, keep submitting and above all, keep learning. Good luck.

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3/22/2006 5:03:25 PM


BetterPhoto Member
Hi Denise;

Don't be discouraged by not winning. When you look at the photographs that win, you are looking at hundreds of hours of classwork and practice by each photographer. There is more photographic talent on this site than you will find in any single class. Some of us may have a fixation in one type of photography (I mainline in night photography), Others are good at many types of photography.

I got my first 35mm SLR camera 36 years ago. I currently hold a bachelor of science degree in the subject. I learned more from this site in the last three months then I learned in four years of college.

Like everyone says, keep learning and practicing. You may well be the next winner.

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3/25/2006 5:35:43 PM

Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/3/2005
  i have a paid gallery and have only two finalists... I entered a whole bunch every month to no avail... so, you dont need a paid gallery to win.. you have to know a judge, ya know, go over, do their laundry, wash their car, cut their lawn....stuff like that!

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3/25/2006 6:41:35 PM

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