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!
NANPA member Wendy Shattil is a full-time professional wildlife photographer with a list of accomplishments as long as your arm. She’s no stranger to awards and photo competitions, having won her first (of many) awards back in 1972. But did you know she was one of the people most responsible for creating NANPA’s Showcase photo competition, which grew out of a member photo slideshow at the 1999 NANPA Summit? She continues to be involved in the competition and administers the entire process. So, who better to give you some tips for selecting your best images, insight into the judging process and the critical role that good captions play.
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!
It is always amazing to look back through my collection of
older NANPA Expressions magazines (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019) featuring the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition for that year. I may be missing a few years in my collection, but I am sure the photos in those years are incredible too. NANPA has a lot of really, really talented photographers and I am always in awe of the award-winning nature images our members capture. Occasionally, I have been fortunate to have an image place in the top 250 and I always enjoy seeing my photograph along with all of the other spectacular photos.
Do you look at photo books and think “I have pictures as good as these”? You might be right, but how do you get your images from the computer into that book? I’ve been on both sides of this question — as photographer and as photo editor — and I have the answer.
You won’t know if your images are good enough until you try submitting them, and you have to be willing to put in a little time selecting and preparing your images for submission.
I’m currently in a unique position to offer you the opportunity to be included in an upcoming book about the Pacific Flyway. As project manager and photo editor, I am charged with locating and selecting more than 200 images for this photo-driven book, and I’d love to see well-chosen submissions from talented NANPA photographers.
Not only pros get published, but they do have an advantage in knowing how to prepare effective submissions. Pros also recognize their truly competitive images and are willing to put in the effort to get those photos in front of an editor.
Here’s your advantage: I know what I’m looking for and I’m going to tell you how to get my attention with five easy tips. Continue reading →