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A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To A Photo Competition

Cell Phone Photography

I don’t write material. Funny things happen to me in the course of a day, and I just make notes.” ~ Kevin Hart

Every year, I enter select photography competitions. They’re good for receiving critical feedback, assessing how your work stands up against other photographers’ work and, to be honest, competition is healthy (not to mention invigorating). While I used to enter local and international “open” contests, I’ve narrowed my focus in recent years to entering competitions only open to professional level shooters, judged blind by qualified jurors.

To prepare my entries, I typically think through different concepts, consider the visual and/or emotional impact, plan out the lighting and subject matter, and try to execute my vision to maximum effect. In short, I prepare my entries rather than just entering random images that I think will do well. Strategise and optimise for success, right?

The key word here being “typically”…

And what’s this “funny thing”?

Here it is: I had a moment a while back much like Kevin Hart’s quote up above: I entered an image that I didn’t set up in advance and that wasn’t earmarked for any kind of competition at all. It was, quite literally, unplanned in every way. Just a one-off grab shot that I happened to like, so I threw it in an Ontario-wide competition only open to working photographers.

And the judges liked it too. They scored it a Merit image.

Fresh Is The Morning Dew | Funny Thing

“So, what’s the big deal?”, you ask…

Well, it’s a cell phone shot.

I was walking out of my building one summer day and saw the dew on a leaf near the sidewalk. Leaning down and a quick adjustment for composition, and I had the shot. From there, it went directly into Instagram for a basic edit and… voila! “Fresh Is The Morning Dew” was created. No fancy gear, no prep, no planning.

Obviously, the end-game objective of entering any image in competition is to see it do well. With this image, though, my thought was to silence the irritating notion floating around that you need pro gear and top-shelf editing software to create pro-level photos, which simply isn’t true.

You need a camera and some means to adjust the final image, and an artistic eye to get the most out of what you’re shooting. Ultimately, that’s it and that’s all.

Now, about developing that artistic eye?

Yeah, that’s another story…


5 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To A Photo Competition”

    1. Thanks, man, and you’re absolutely right, Neil. Shooting in different ways and with different gear, not always so goal-driven, only makes us better photographers.

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