Photographer of the Year: Capturing a winning portfolio (Part two)
Like few other photo competitions, Photographer of the Year challenges image-makers to capture a series of cohesive images that tell a story and work together.
To help you enter a winning portfolio, we asked a selection of finalists from last year's competition for their advice for what it takes to excel in this most prestigious of competitions, and to tell us a little more about their images.
Here's what they had to say.
George Yu Pang Chan, People category winner 2022, Starring as ElvisIn terms of photographing portfolios, or a series, I believe it is crucial to "utilise" the environment and your subjects.
I have seen works that the photographer submitted five photos of the same person against the same background, doing the same thing, but from a slightly different angles.
To add diversity or variation to the portfolios, I would suggest to exploring different perspectives. Try to lean forward, or take a step back; try to shoot from above, or shoot from the ground. Additionally, capturing the subjects' surroundings and emphasising details like their hands, face and clothing could add some depth to the story.
When it comes to selecting photos for a competition, many of us tend to choose our "best photos". However, for a photo series, although it might be very difficult when you are limited to only three to five photos, I think it is important to establish a narrative backbone.
This means that sometimes you may need to include some "weaker" photos that contribute to telling the story, while letting go of certain "strong" photos that do not provide additional information to the narrative.
These "weaker" photos can serve as connectors, helping to bridge the gaps between the more stronger photos and providing context or introducing key elements. Ultimately, the strength of a photo series lies in its ability to communicate a compelling story or message.
So when selecting images, consider the overall narrative flow and the role each photo plays in enhancing the story, rather than solely focusing on individual image quality. By incorporating these elements, you complete the story instead of presenting five similar photos.
Although I have never judged a photo competition, I believe it is important the photos in a series should be consistent and cohesive.
It is important to consider factors such as the colour tone (or monochrome), editing style and even camera system used for your series. Applying a consistent visual aesthetic across all the photos helps create a unified narrative.
Incorporating both colour and monochrome photos, or combining digital and polaroid images, can be intriguing and creative. However, in the context of a small body of work like a series of five photos, it may introduce confusion or dilute the impact of the overall presentation.
Tim Burgess, Aerial category winner 2022, Textures of Tangalooma
Refining the series to submit. This all begins with shooting & editing. I like to shoot at similar times of day to keep cohesiveness across my images with the lighting and colours. This helps make the overall editing process flow better and creates a more cohesive collection.
Subject. One of the greatest advantages with aerial photography is the ability to change compositions so easily. When looking for a subject - I like to explore all the compositions of a particular scene or subject which gives the viewer a much more in-depth experience.
Try to include a combination of top-down and landscape style images to offer variety with the collection you're submitting. In doing this, the subject or theme you choose can be portrayed in several different ways.
Learn and have fun. Possibly the most important tip of all. Enjoy the process of shooting at different times of day, challenging yourself to capture different compositions. The love and fun you have behind the camera will always shine through the lens.