Tips + Techniques

Four Easy Tips for Wedding Photography Competitions from Inside the Judges’ Booth

December 10, 2013

By RF Staff

Part of my job is to oversee and manage WPPI’s print competition as well as work with The Photo Group on all of our contests. I’ve been fortunate to learn from a great team here, and watch how each of our contests and competitions are managed. From the hiring of judges, to helping out as a judge, I’ve learned some things I wanted to share with you as someone who used to be in your shoes.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share some insights. Think of them as "Jason’s Insider Competition Tips I wish I knew!"

Here are a few basic tips for entering competitions based on what I’ve learned:

Make it Clear.
Do you have to explain the photograph? In other words, do you know without any doubt what’s going on in the photograph? If there's a doubt, you might want to rethink that image.

More Than Pretty
Just because your subject is attractive, the lighting is nice, and it’s well composed within the rules doesn’t make it competition-worthy. This was a biggie for me; I always would enter nice portraits using great lighting and composition. But, at the end of the day—it was just that, a nice portrait of a hot couple. Don’t get me wrong, those photos kept me in business for all my years, but none of them are or will ever be competition worthy. Ask yourself, what makes this special from the others?


A photo I may have entered years ago. ©Jason Groupp


Great photo for the couple—not great for competition. ©Jason Groupp

Show Emotion.
Imagine you’re a judge, sitting and viewing 200, 500, 800, maybe even 1,500 images, and then BLAMMO, you see an image of a dad wailing as he’s walking his daughter down the aisle, or a groom sobbing during vows (honestly, who doesn’t love a sobbing groom?), or a bride shrieking in terror during a Hora, or the best man getting down on the dance floor, shirt untucked, sweating and enjoying himself with joy you can feel. Judges LOVE emotion and all the ranges of it, as long as it tips the scale of the everyday. Laughing wildly, crying, dancing, skipping, jumping—you name it, if it has emotion, they love it. This is stuff that makes a judge stop, pause and feel.

Feel a Connection.
Are you connecting with your subjects? This is a harder one. Not every category is about catching a moment, so how do you connect with a portrait? Think about this before entering a specific image.

That’s a good start! Entering print competition is a growing process—you have to start somewhere, but you can't win if you don't enter.

Remember, I’m here to serve YOU, let me know if you have questions! If you haven’t joined our Facebook group, there’s a plethora of information and an awesome bunch hanging out too! Good luck!