Saturday, December 20, 2014

TEN Great Ideas For Your Next Photo Competition - Part One

Most photo competitions I've seen have been pretty generic. Tell me if any of these sound familiar...
Note the coffee cup that I totally didn't see until I was
almost done editing.

  • "Trees"
  • "Moving Water"
  • "Yellow"
  • "Birds"
  • "Spring"
  • "Shapes"

OK, so, these topics are generic enough to allow for a lot of interpretation. That's not all bad. However, the problem is, a lot of times, these topics fit right into someone's wheelhouse. Maybe you have one or two members who have that neat-o 400mm 2.8 lens, and their favorite subject for the past 30 years has been "Birds." They'll just pick out one of a thousand of decent bird pictures out of their collection, and everyone else in the club is fighting for 2nd place, waiting for something more interesting that a sparrow to shoot a picture of.

"Trees"? Well, just be ready for a couple dozen pictures of trees. Maybe one or two might be interesting, but otherwise? Yawn!

Why not make your topic a challenge for everyone? Make your topic something obscure.. 

  1. Instead of "The Holidays", have your members pull an ornament off their Christmas tree, or take a colored Easter egg out of the basket. Use that item as an element in a decidedly "non-holiday" themed picture. For instance, a bulb ornament off the Christmas tree could be added to a bowl of fruit for an interesting still life. Or, have a juggler friend juggle three Easter eggs. Use your Fourth of July sparklers to do fun light painting images.
  2. Similar to the previous idea, on your way to your club meeting, stop at the store and spend a dollar or two. Buy a bag of small, plastic, army men, or a package of marshmallows, or couple dozen rolls of generic toilet paper. Give each member one of the items, and tell them the image they make has to include the item as an element. It doesn't have to be the main subject, but it has to play a role in the image!
  3. Lyrics as inspiration. This has always been a big one for me. I myself, have a FANTASTIC image in my head that I have yet to put together, based on the "J" song from Seasame Street, ("J, Joe, Jeans and His Jellybeans".) Present a song with descriptive lyrics, Something like "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" by Meatloaf or "Good For Your Soul" by Oingo Boingo. Pretty much any song written by Jim Morrison would work. Heck, if you have a younger crowd, pick a Ke$ha song (on the other hand, if your group is mostly older, retired people, give THEM the Ke$ha song and let hilarity ensue!) Tell your members to take ONLY ONE LINE from the lyrics of the song, and use that as inspiration for an image. The images doesn't have to do ANYTHING with what the song is actually about, but, the image should reflect the line from the lyrics. Heck, you could even require them to make their chosen lyric the TITLE of their image. Here are some potential titles from just those two songs I mentioned: "Not Another Moment To Waste", "No Matter What I do, I just Can't Seem to Make Any Sound", "No One's Gonna Know Where You Been", "Images so Strange and Foreign", "It Kept You Wide Awake At Night", "The Whole Thing Slips Right Through Your Fingers"
  4. Have a lot of Photoshoppers in your group? Or, maybe you have a lot of "Old School" photographers who are creative enough to do this in-camera. See who can create the best "Unexplained Phenomena" image. Ghost floating down the steps? Bigfoot running though your backyard? UFO in the sky? Elvis at the drive-thru? Make believers out of us! Bonus points should be given to any images that get published in the National Enquirer.
  5. Photo-ception. A photograph, within a photograph, within a photograph...
Bonus Tip - Now that you are done here, go check out the World's Longest List of Photo Contest Ideas! I don't know if it actually is, but it's a long list!

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