How to take better photos

Photos by Allan Harris: A York busker
21 Jun 2013 @ 4.04 pm
| Entertainment

Everyone is a photographer these days – but some people take much better photos than others. And it’s not to do with the camera – a good snap on a camera phone can be the equal of an image taken on equipment costing hundreds of pounds.

So how do you capture a great image? As we launch YorkMix’s York Open Photography Competition 2013, we ask: what will the judges be looking for?

The rules are simple. Entries must have been taken in York, any time since September 7 last year – and the winning picture must capture – in some way – “the spirit of York”.

Of course, no photographer can hope with a single shot to encapsulate all the strands that make up the spirit of York. Is it the setting sun shimmering on the West windows of York Minster, the slinking curve of the railway lines converging on York station, a lone oarsman on the Ouse, billowing frosty breath into the autumn air?

Perhaps it’s a cheeky pigeon perched on the head of the Constantine statue, or a day-trip visitor who has been scared half to death on a ghost walk, or summer crowds at a farmer’s market in Parliament Street. It could be any of these.

Chair of judges, Allan Harris, says: “The winner has to meet the brief, namely the spirit of York, but that is wide open to interpretation. The shot has to stir the emotions, to try to get across the essence of this wonderful city.

“But, obviously, we will also be looking for tangible things such as the technical qualities of the image. More importantly it has to be the individual vision of the photographer, to show the city and its life in a personal way.”

Any subject is allowed, but that principal consideration remains: whether a photograph captures the ‘spirit of York’. The judges will also take into consideration composition, lighting, technical skill, wit, mood and humour.

Pictures can be taken on any camera, from the humblest snapshot camera or camera-phone to a high-end professional set-up.

Entrants must make their images memorable and eye-catching. In the early rounds of judging, pictures will be looked at for just a few seconds. They have to make an impact in that time.

Leading picture agency photographer, Chien-Chi Chang, of Magnum Pictures, is an experienced competition judge. He advises: “One of the problems often encountered during judging, is that we see the pictures but we don’t see the photographer. In other words, a picture could have been taken by any nameless photographer.

“But there are certain pictures, that when you see the pictures, you feel you see the personality of the photographer as well.”

Happy snapping – and good luck!


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