Crafting Compelling Captions for Photo Contests, Part I

A young pine marten leaps from one tree to another in my direction. I was shooting out of an open window. Silver Gate, Montana © Patricia McCollom Bauchman
A young pine marten leaps from one tree to another in my direction. I was shooting out of an open window. Silver Gate, Montana © Patricia McCollom Bauchman

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Captions play a critical role in photo contests. You might think that your photograph stands on its own but judges don’t have your knowledge of the circumstances at the moment you pressed the shutter button. The information you provide in your caption can help preemptively answer a judge’s questions or concerns, explain a unique situation you captured, illuminate subtle nuances in your composition, and assuage any trepidations over potential ethical problems. Captions can make or break your photo’s chances in Showcase or any other photo contest.

We’re in the middle of the 2021 NANPA Showcase nature photo competition and hundreds of photographers are combing through their archive to choose which stellar images they want to submit. The quality of submissions has always been outstanding, making the judges’ job difficult. Yet every year we get comments from judges about images with inadequate captions. Don’t let a weak caption give judges a reason to discount your photo!

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Five Reasons to Study Contest-Winning Photos

Winning photos in the Audubon Awards were recently announced.
Winning photos in the Audubon Awards were recently announced.

The winning entries for the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards and National Geographic Travel Photo Contest were recently posted.  Like many contests (including NANPA’s soon-to-open Showcase), these competitions attract passionate photographers of all levels.  But, beyond a quick look at the prize-winning pretty pictures, can you learn anything from them?

Yes!  And here are five good reasons to spend some time studying and appreciating contest-winning photos.

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Top Five Tips for Choosing Winning Images for Photo Contests

NANPA Showcase Competition

2019 NANPA Showcase Competition. Entries due by September 17, 11 PM Eastern.

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 2019 Showcase Photo Competition or, for that matter, any other photo competition?

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