Photo Contest Tips from Past Showcase Winners, Part 2

“Silverback Mountain Gorilla Portrait," Bwindi National Park, Uganda, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Mammals © Hector D. Astorga.
“Silverback Mountain Gorilla Portrait,” Bwindi National Park, Uganda, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Mammals © Hector D. Astorga.

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Many NANPA members look forward each year to the Showcase photography competition. NANPA’s 2022 Showcase competition is open now, with entries accepted until 11 p.m. EDT, September 20, 2021. That’s tonight, if you’re thinking of entering, now’s the time to get busy! You can find all the rules, information, entry forms, and more on the website. But, we also asked some photographers who have received multiple Showcase awards to share some of their best tips for photo contests (see part one here).

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Photo Contest Tips from Past Showcase Winners, Part 1

Sunrise photo of a mountain with flowers in the foreground. Penstemon and Paintbrush Tapestry, Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington, 2018 Showcase, Judges' Choice, Scapes© Geoffrey Schmid
“Penstemon and Paintbrush Tapestry,” Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington, 2018 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Scapes © Geoffrey Schmid

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

NANPA’s 2022 Showcase photography competition is in full swing, with entries accepted right up until 11 p.m. EDT September 20, 2021. It’s one of NANPA’s most popular offerings. Why? Because you get a chance to see how your work measures up to your peers, have your images seen by potential clients, influence people and causes, and maybe win some of the $6,000 in prize money.

Sounds good, right, but where to start? We asked several nature photographers whose images have placed in the Showcase Top 24 in multiple years what are their secrets. How do they approach Showcase? What do they look for in the images they enter? Here’s what they had to say.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Karen Gordon Schulman

Painterly effect applied to image of grasses. Morning Grasses, Yampa River Botanic Park, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Karen Schulman
Morning Grasses, Yampa River Botanic Park, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Karen Gordon Schulman

Artist’s statement

Peace, beauty, balance and humor are what I hope my art expresses and how I would like it to affect others.

I feel that Morning Grasses fits my creative philosophy and my mission as a photographic artist and leaves room for the viewer’s interpretation and wonder. I’ve always been interested in alternative styles of creative photography, including hand painting silver prints, Polaroid SX-70 manipulations, digital multiple exposures, and currently, Creative iPhoneography.

I love capturing moments in time with my camera. I am drawn to whatever resonates with my creative soul. I think as much about the design, light, shadow, pattern, texture, or gesture in the image as I do about the subject itself. I search less and let my awareness draw me to what I can use as my canvas, and I often add layering of texture or color to my original image, as I have done with this one.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Melissa Fraser

“Palm Trees Morphed into a Nature Mandala," Moloka'i, Hawai'i, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Melissa Fraser.
“Palm Trees Morphed into a Nature Mandala,” Moloka’i, Hawai’i, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Melissa Fraser.

Artist’s statement

I have recently been learning more about meditation and am fascinated by the many ways one can choose to meditate. One ancient form of meditation is to focus on a mandala image. Mandalas, or circles, are a sacred form of meditation that allows the individual to focus on the image and in clinical trials has been shown to promote healthy living. With this image, I tried to combine an image of nature, which is naturally calming to me, with the idea of mandala art. This image reminds me of a warm tropical sunset with the color, trees, and circular motion. When looking at it, I can almost feel the warm sun, hear the waves and feel the salty air on my face, and it sends me into a relaxed state.

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Top Seven Tips for Choosing Winning Images for Photo Contests

2021 NANPA Showcase
Time to get your entries ready for NANPA’s 2021 Showcase competition.

In a photo contest, everybody wants their entry to win. So, what can you do to maximize your chances of having one (or more) of your photos chosen for recognition in NANPA’s 2021 Showcase photo competition or, for that matter, any other photo competition?

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Betty Sederquist

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality: "Bear Altercation © Betty Sederquist
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality: “Bear Altercation” © Betty Sederquist

How I Got the Shot

This was taken at a bear rescue center called Fortress of the Bear in Sitka, Alaska. I was shooting from a catwalk above the bears looking down into a spacious enclosure. These bears were in a pond. I added painterly effects later.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Lisa Jansen

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality: "Bursting with Color” © Lisa Jansen.
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality: “Bursting with Color” © Lisa Jansen.

How I Got the Shot

Great Blue Herons don’t usually visit our small Wisconsin Lake, so this was a pleasant surprise.  It was early morning as I take my usual kayak ride on the lookout for nature’s wonders.  As I came around the bend, there he was, standing tall and proud amongst the reeds.  He stood still as a statue as I positioned myself according to the light, determined appropriate camera settings, and captured the shot.  My concern was to get a well-focused, close shot without disturbing him and with a zoom lens and crop sensor, I was able to accomplish this.

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Weekly Wow! Week of May 18, 2020

Showcase 2020 Top 100 winner: "An Abstract Image of a Red Fox Calling in the Wilderness” © Ron Day.
Showcase 2020 Top 100 winner: “An Abstract Image of a Red Fox Calling in the Wilderness” © Ron Day.

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, May 18, 2020.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2020 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. The 2020 edition of Expressions contains all of the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition as well as interesting and insightful articles. Order your copy here!

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Showcase Deadline is Tonight!

Make the Image Your Own from NANPA Video on Vimeo.

Tonight, at 11 PM Eastern Time, the entry window for NANPA’s Showcase Competition closes. Have you got your entries in or are you a procrastinator? I’ll confess to sometimes waiting until the last minute to get something done. The important thing is actually getting it done. So, the good news is: You still have time. The bad news is: Not much!

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Showcase 2019 Winner Profile – Jackie Kramer

Showcase 2019, First Runner-up, Altered Reality: Dead Tide – Stolen Lives © Jackie Kramer.

Showcase 2019, First Runner-up, Altered Reality: Dead Tide – Stolen Lives © Jackie Kramer.

Bio:

Jackie Kramer resides in St. Augustine, FL, after living in Alaska for almost 30 years. She has been photographing the natural world, with an emphasis on flowers, since the age of 16. Jackie has earned awards from The International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY); from the Jacksonville Professional Photographers Guild (Best in Show in 2017 and 2018 and Competitor of the Year in 2017 and 2018), and by the Professional Photographers of America’s International Photographic Competition (Silver Medal in 2018). Jackie maintains an active Facebook group, Phlorography- Artistic Floral Photography, with over 5,000 passionate floral photographers from around the world. She is committed to enriching others through the support and relationships developed and fostered through this network.

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