How to Take the Perfect Photograph for the BIKE Magazine Photography Contest 2022

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(Taken from the January 2022 edition of BIKE Magazine / written by Staff Writer Beth Turner)

With the BIKE Magazine Photography Contest 2022 deadline fast approaching, now is your time to get out your cameras and take that winning shot.

With the deadline set for 28th February 2022, it is only a matter of weeks before final entries can be submitted to the competition. It may seem daunting, in fact, that you may only have weeks to take the winning photograph. 

But fear not. Because in this article, we will be breaking down the steps to success, in how to master the art of competition winning. 

It may sound impossible to have a guide on winning competitions. Isn’t it just luck, after all? And while there is truth in that idea, there are many tried and true methods that may increase your likelihood of success, from a variety of sources.

Come With a Goal In Mind

The winning photograph, often, is one that has been planned. Where lighting, composition, and atmosphere have been thought through, and the final image is one whose excellence is in no small part thanks to the effort that was put behind in making it. 

Open theme winner Chieko Tanemura set out with a goal, to capture the ‘bike in daily life, for school, health, creed and so forth’, as they explained in an interview. In their set of photographs, it is clear that they have stuck to this objective, taking spectacular images that capture the daily use of bikes in a variety of exciting locations. 

Chieko Tanemura's photograph, Amish Father and Son
Chieko Tanemura’s photograph, Amish Father and Son

Tanemura knew the sort of images they wanted to take, and could therefore more effectively execute their vision. It is difficult to know what you want, if you haven’t decided what you want, after all. This planning and goal setting gave Tenamura a great advantage in the competition, and alongside their phenomenal photography skills, was able to snag the prize. 

Anticipate and Plan for Distractions

While this tip is more based for competitive athletes, as described in a SportMedBC article, it is still a concept applicable to the BIKE Magazine Photography Contest.

When out in the field to snap your photographs, make sure you stick to the plan you have set. It is easy to get distracted, especially in beautiful or ever shifting environments, but it is important to pay attention. It is easy to miss your winning shot, if you are paying more attention to taking photographs of something else.

Therefore, be sure to understand the distractions you may run into so that when they appear, they do not distract. If you are shooting in a woodland, know that it is likely that a dog or some other sort of small animal may come into frame. A dog that wants to play, or a bird sitting delicately on a branch, are certainly sweet images, but they are not the image you set out to take. Wait for the dog’s owner to retrieve it, and leave the bird be, and take the photographs you planned to take.

Apply this logic to any spot you are shooting in, and you should be able to quickly identify potential distractions in your environment. Prepare for them, and know how to minimise them, and you are guaranteed to have a more productive, potentially prize winning shoot. 

Save The Sob Story

While this suggestion from mumsmoney.com may sound harsh, this tip is one that is important to take on board- that a sad story is not a necessity behind good art. 

Tortured artists like Vincent Van Gogh, and tragic backstories of contestants on reality tv talent competitions, have led many to believe that the best art is that which comes from suffering. This is by no means true, and in fact can often come across as disingenuous, as a purposeful tug at the heartstrings. 

Art can come from anything. It can come from a place of awe or appreciation, or a need to explore and capture sights often unseen. Art can be a capturing of culture, of a time and place, of a thrilling race, or an unbelievable landscape. Art can come from anywhere. 

This isn’t to say that art can’t come from a place of sadness, that art can’t be a reflection of something darker or more introspective. Your art is your own, and making art which reflects the story behind it is always a bonus when it comes to judgement in a photography contest. However, know that sadness is not your only option. Save the sob stories for when they matter. 

Be Creative With Your Photographs

In a photography contest, images that stand out are key. When a competition is flooded with as many entries as ours was last year, it is easy for photographs to get lost in the volume, meaning it is important for a photograph to be unique, and stand out from the crowd.

That is why being creative is essential. To create a piece that the judges can’t help but see, analyse, and discuss. When taking your photographs, ponder what you can do to make them different, what techniques can be applied to make your image stand out. For tips on this, check out our November Issue on how to take the perfect photograph. 

Last year’s Special Award winner, Salva Fonolla, has used immense creativity in his work, crafting captivating imagery with his mastery of composition and colour. As he explained in an interview in our June Issue;

“We found a natural jump but the photos wasn’t cool. At the end of the evening, I took a look at the sun to check how many times we have, and then I saw all the silhouettes of the mountains, and I decided to change the composition of the photo to the backlighting. Mendi jumped around 20 times on the natural jumps, until I got the sun to pass through her body.”

Salva Fonolla's photograph.
Salva Fonolla’s photograph.

This photo emphasises all the tips so far- coming with a goal, avoiding distraction, and being creative in your work. Fonolla came with the intention of taking a beautiful photo on these natural slopes, and didn’t let the weather conditions distract him or let him down. He was then able to be creative in his composition, while still having his goal set, and after many attempts was able to take a winning photograph. 

This in the moment creativity was what gave Fonolla the opportunity to take this breathtaking image, and claim that Special Category prize. So, when you’re out in the field, make sure you are prepared, and be ready to experiment when you feel the moment is right. 

Armed with these tips and tricks, the BIKE Magazine Photography Contest prize is yours for the taking. So, what are you waiting for?

Deadline: 28th February 2022

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