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Capture Glory: 7 Steps to Winning Photo Contests Like a Pro

6/11/2024 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments


Have you ever dreamt of seeing your photograph hanging proudly in a gallery, or gracing the cover of a prestigious magazine? Photography contests offer a thrilling opportunity to showcase your talent, gain recognition, and potentially win amazing prizes. But with so much competition, how do you make your work stand out from the crowd?

Joris Hermans's Rise to Recognition

Look no further! In this blog post, we'll draw inspiration from the captivating journey of Joris Hermans, a photographer who transformed from a beginner to an award-winner. 

Joris Hermans's story is an inspiration to all aspiring photographers. In 2016, he captured the coveted Nikon Press Photo Award in Belgium, a testament to his dedication and unwavering passion. But his road to success wasn't paved overnight.

In this video, Joris shares the 7 key steps that fueled his photographic evolution. Let's dissect each step and explore how you can apply them to your own journey.

1. Master the Fundamentals: Building a Solid Foundation

Joris emphasizes the importance of mastering the fundamentals of photography. This includes understanding the technical aspects of your camera, the power of lighting, and the art of visual storytelling.

There are several ways to acquire these skills. Formal education through photography classes or online courses can be a great starting point. However, if you're an autodidact (self-learner), fear not! Explore reputable online resources, photography blogs like ours, and experiment with your camera's manual settings. Remember, a solid foundation is the cornerstone of any successful photographer.

2. Cultivate Your Photographic Eye: Embrace Daily Practice

Just like any skill, photography requires consistent practice. Joris suggests making photography a daily habit. This could be as simple as capturing one photo on your way to work or school. The key is to train your eye to see the world through a photographer's lens, noticing the interplay of light and shadow, interesting compositions, and captivating moments waiting to be captured.

3. Project Power: Channeling Your Creativity

Take your daily practice a step further by developing photographic projects. This allows you to explore themes that resonate with you, hone your vision, and create a cohesive body of work. For instance, Joris embarked on a project where he photographed each room he slept in during a two-year travel adventure.

4. Inspiration All Around: Unleash Your Inner Visionary

Joris encourages photographers to find inspiration everywhere. Every object, scene, or person can be a potential subject for a compelling image. Don't be afraid to experiment and challenge yourself creatively. Look at the world around you with fresh eyes and ask yourself: "What stories can I tell through my photography?"

5. Dream Bigger: Embracing Ambitious Projects

As you gain experience with smaller projects, consider venturing into more ambitious endeavors. Joris shares the example of a project documenting a specific region in Northern California. This allowed him to showcase his skills in a comprehensive and impactful way.

6. Craft Your Showcase: Building a Powerful Portfolio

Your portfolio is your calling card, a digital gallery showcasing your best work. Here's where the photographs you've captured throughout your journey come together to tell your visual story. Aim for a curated selection that reflects your style and technical proficiency. Build your portfolio with personal projects, contest submissions (even if not awarded), and freelance work, if applicable.

7. Enter the Arena: Submitting to Contests and Publications

Now it's time to unleash your work on the world! Start by researching photo contests that align with your photographic style and interests. Carefully review contest guidelines and submission requirements to ensure your entries adhere to the specifications. Don't be discouraged if you don't win every time. Every submission is an opportunity to receive valuable feedback from esteemed judges, gain exposure, and learn from the work of other photographers.

Beyond Joris Hermans: Additional Tips for Success

Joris's 7-step roadmap provides a solid foundation for aspiring contest winners. Here are some additional tips to refine your approach:

  • Research the Judges: Familiarize yourself with the judging panels for your chosen contests. This can give you valuable insights into their stylistic preferences and thematic interests.
  • Network with Fellow Photographers: Building connections within the photography community is invaluable. 

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About Joris Hermans:

Hi my name's Joris Hermans. I'm a Belgian documentary photographer, filmmaker and... I guess YouTuber? I spent 2018 and 2019 traveling and photographing the world and now most of my days are spent creating the films you see here. I share everything that I've learned over the past decade of photographing the world and what I'm learning now on this journey of creating my own original content.  You can support my content & get exclusive videos here:

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Image and video via Joris Hermans