Photography Competitions? 5 Huge Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these common mistakes in your photo competition entries and you stand a much better chance of doing well:

Mistake #1. Photographers present tired and predictable subjects and treatments. Hackneyed shots are extremely tedious for everyone concerned. Individuality and originality, however, stand out. Be ruthlessly tough on your material – does it have an immediate impact? Is it original? Compelling? Emotive? If not, then go back to the drawing board.

Mistake #2. Photographers play it too safe and fail to explore extremes in their entries. What is presented is more like a merely accurate representation of something rather than a shot that vividly captures the ‘drama,’ ‘essence’, ’emotion’ or ‘personality’ of the subject. Shots that do are alive. Those that don’t are flat and are quickly discarded from the judging process.

Mistake #3. Photographers violate the basic principles of composition and framing. By doing this, an ignorance of the fundamentals of photographic aesthetics is immediately apparent. Such entries never win and there is a massive difference between knowing and understanding the rules but then consciously bending or breaking them and, on the other hand, being completely ignorant of the ‘rules’ in the first place. The difference will be very obvious in the images. Aspiring photographers need to educate themselves about the fundamentals of framing and composition or else will be wasting their time in most photography competitions.

Mistake #4. Photographers don’t enter enough shots into a competition. There is always subjectivity involved in the judging of any photography competition so aspiring photographers need to put in more than one entry if they can – especially in the major events.

Mistake #5. Photographers submit their entry at the 11th hour. In any significant photography competition, the vast majority of entries (to call it a tidal wave would not be an understatement in some cases) arrive at the last possible moment before the deadline. Judges are then confronted with the daunting task of wading through the mountains of (e)mail and judging each and every piece of work with equal dispassion. In theory, it should not make any difference when an entry arrives but in practice, judges can give more time and thought to those entries that arrive before King Kong’s mailbag.

Better Wildlife Photos – Five Common Mistakes to Avoid

Wildlife photography is both rewarding and frustrating, even for experienced photographers. While a great photo is something to treasure, the challenges of wildlife photography can leave beginners feeling a little lost.

“It was wonderful to be there, but this photo doesn’t really do it justice.” Does this sound familiar? Too often we have a great experience in nature, and even though we have our camera at the ready, we fail to get the shot. This is not because the camera lets us down; it is because in our rush to get a photo – any photo – we fall victim to any one of a number of mistakes that can ruin a good wildlife photography opportunity.

Here are five common mistakes in wildlife photography, and some simple tips to overcome them.

Mistake #1. Fail To Get Close Enough To The Subject. This is probably the most obvious mistake you can make. You may see a bird in a tree, but your photo turns out to be all tree and no bird. In wildlife photography, the ‘less is more’ approach is often best. Ask yourself what is important for your photo, and eliminate everything else. In most cases you are best to get as close as possible to the subject, and/or zoom in with your largest lens. This eliminates the distraction of the background so that the viewer’s attention is entirely on the subject itself.

Mistake #4. Distracting Depth of Field. This is closely related to mistake #1. When you set your camera to automatic, you allow it to set your aperture and shutter speed settings for you. To get the best results, you need to make these decisions for yoursef. If you take your photos on a small aperture setting, you increase the depth of field around the subject, allowing the background to become more of a distraction. You are better to set the widest aperture setting you can. This narrows the depth of field, concentrating the focus on the animal. As an added bonus, it will also allow a faster shutter speed, which helps to freeze a moving subject.

Mistake #3. Get Too Close To The Subject. When the opportunity arises to get a good close-up, some people go a little too far. A good wildlife photo wants a little space around the subject, otherwise your composition can look cramped, with the animal squashed into a space where it doesn’t quite fit.

In these situtions, try zooming back just a little, to allow a little ‘headroom’ around the animal. There should be at least a small amount of space above the head, and on each side. If the animal is facing to one side, adjust your composition so that there is a little more space in front of the subject than behind it. That way the animal will be looking into the picture, not at the edge of the frame.

Mistake #4. Poor Lighting. We all love to get out and about on sunny days, but these are not necessarily the best conditions for a good photo. Bright sunshine produces shadow where you many not want them; in particular across the face of the subject. In the middle of the day when the light shines from above, you can find that most of the face and all of the underside of the subject is lost in dark shadow.

The solution? If it is a sunny day, take your photos early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the sun is at a lower angle. You will also find lower contrast and warmer colour in the light, adding character to the whole photo.

In many cases it is best to take your photos on a cloudy day, when the light is even and the contrast is low. This light can work best for some subjects by completely eliminating glare and heavy shadow.

Mistake #5. Bad Timing. Animals move, they blink, they turn their heads, they flap their wings…sometimes it seems they are on a mission to foil your best attempts at a good photo.

In every wildlife encounter, there are a thousand opportunities to take a bad photo, and maybe one or two opportunities to take a good photo. A nature photographer learns to be ready for that perfect moment.

This is a matter of patience and perserverence. You need to spend as much time as possible with your subject, and take a lot of photos. Expect most of them to be rubbish, but take delight in the good ones because they are hard to come by. In particular, watch the animal’s movements and behaviour. The trick is to try to catch a moment that expresses something unique to set your photo apart from millions of others. You won’t get that perfect shot every time, but when you do it is a moment to treasure.

10 Common Photography Mistakes

Mistakes are usually an inevitable phase of learning. For many photographers, overcoming mistakes and ensuring high quality work is important. The following is a compilation of the 10 common photography mistakes and tips to help you resolve them. Correcting these mistakes will significantly enhance your photography skills.

1. Buying lots of photography gear simultaneously

This mistake of acquiring lots of new photography gear at once affects both seasoned photographers and beginners alike. However, new photographers generally think that buying the most new gear is going to make them the best photographers. Buying a new lens, flash or camera won’t make you better at this craft. Actually, the best photographers can easily capture great photos with just about any camera. What is more important is the creativity, technical knowledge and a keen eye for lighting that will transform you to a much better photographer. Obviously, this does not mean you should never buy new gear. Different gear is actually helpful in providing better resolution and more flexibility. Just remember to enhance your skills as the photographer using the gear.

2. Distorted horizon

You are in position capturing a breathtaking sunset with your latest camera. However, in the eagerness of capturing the perfect sunset, you forgot to ensure that to set the horizon level. As a result, all the sunset photos are crooked. Luckily, there is a simple way of fixing this issue of a misaligned horizon. Most of the photo editing software available can do this automatically or allow you to make the appropriate edits by angling the canvas to a horizontal position in a software like Photoshop or Lightroom. You should also turn on your camera’s electronic spirit level or virtual horizon when capturing the photo for better precision.

3. Wrong white balance

Do your photographs look too cool or too warm? This is a common mistake that is caused when the camera incorrectly assesses the white balance. While AWB (automatic white balance) can easily determine a suitable setting based on the situation, the best option of getting it right the first time is by setting your own white balance figure. By correcting this mistake, your photos will appear more natural and you won’t need to do lots of editing work later on.

4. Lens distortions

This particular mistake is common amongst beginners as they are more prone to using the wrong lenses. Some lenses make subjects appear warped, while some introduce some undesirable elements like the loss of brightness or color around the edges. The first way of resolving this mistake is choosing the right lens with a suitable focal length for your subject. There are some cameras that even apply corrections automatically as you capture JPEG images. However, it is most efficient and easiest to correct this mistake when editing the photo afterwards.

5. Image out of focus

Relying on autofocus is not recommended for any professional photographer. This is likely due to the fact that the camera sometimes gets it wrong. When this happens, you find that your images are focused on something in front of or behind your preferred subject. In order to make sure your camera chooses your preferred focus point, set focus mode as single point AF.

6. Blurred images

You have taken a great photo, but it is just not quite as sharp. This blurred image can be the result of various factors, like movement of the camera during exposure, wrong focus point or subject movement. Unless the blur is meant as an artistic effect, there are a number of ways you can ensure sharper photos. This includes increasing ISO sensitivity to roughly 1/80 second with a shutter speed of 1/125s so as to prevent shake and also using a tripod.

7. Photos look dark and dull

Sometimes your photographs can look darker than the real scene. This phenomenon is usually caused by your camera meter reading influencing the exposure of the light situation. The remedy to this mistake is quite simple and it is known as exposure compensation. You can set this value in automatic mode. Applying the exposure compensation will give your images more life.

8. Poor composition

Composition refers to the art of balancing an image to enrich the flow. The mistake that many photographers make is capturing a photo with the subject directly in the center, but it does not always create the most attractive image. A simple composition method that you can use is the principle of thirds. This is where you subdivide the photo into thirds, both horizontally and vertically using 2 lines. You then place your subject at the intersection point of the lines or along the lines, to create a more captivating image.

9. Too much editing

Good post-processing of photos is just about subtleness, improving instead of overpowering a photo. Too much HDR or excessive contrast can make your photos appear tasteless. Remember that each photo is unique, so it is important to use different effects and filters based on what the photo requires. For instance, increasing saturation properties on landscape photos may look amazing, but doing the same effects on portrait photos will be quite unflattering.

10. Overlooking the basics of photography

This is the final major mistake that photographers make today. After learning all the right skills like focus, composition and exposure, you should not forget the simple basics of photography. This includes things like charging your batteries, carrying spares, backing up memory cards and ensuring you have all your gear before heading out to an event. Lastly, remember to always remove the lens cap once you start taking photos. You will be surprised to know that this mistake still happens to experienced photographers.


Photography is very enjoyable and rewarding. Just remember not to be scared of getting in close to your subject, as is the case with most beginners. Try numerous perspectives like climbing up a tree or lying on the ground to get a great perspective. Once you implement the above solutions and enhance your skills, you will be able to improve your photography quality.