Two years ago I was reading a forum discussion about underwater photographers complained about they are not allowed anymore to swim with whales to make some great pictures… whales are generally an easy way to get some final shots in great wildlife and underwater photography contests.… so those guys weren’t really happy about New restrictions cause they are a part of whale conservancy their speech was around if we do not do this shots whales cannot be saved and eco tourism cannot develop…… ok why not but what about a great shot put light on a place and brings lot of tourists wanted to get a great shot for their social network ? Those people are ready for everything expecting to get a great photo of a situation. They think those awarded photographers jump push the button and got it perhaps sometimes it happened once or twice but how many get back home and put the Go Pro somewhere on the desk and forget they disturbed underwater life ?
Photography is not a game but a way to tell something to put in light something unknown on a place, a situation, an animal it’s not something funny you need to work on it. Like for this humpback dolphin the last one of Mayotte lagoon finding a new familly with a female bottlenose and a group of Tursiops. Is not a question of fun to show how great is your life. You want to be great join an association spend lot of time underwater to make great photo not to show how great you are but how useful you can be for a better world.
Social media can be a great powerful tool to tell to the world we need to do actions there to preserve life, to change conditions of people etc… but it can also be a stupid tool when people look for vanity instead how to be usefully. Think about the world you want to leave to your children a world full of selfish or a better world
Photo competition is a great way to involve as photographer. Don't expect to win some of the biggest one are over 40000 photos like Wildlife Photographer of the Year or UPY for just one winner. Perhaps you can be lucky to get the big shot of a life but if you watch photo honnored or remarkable you will see also great shots. And you will perhaps choose another kind of winner.
But why you should do ? It's a great way to confort and compare your work against other photographers. Photography is a competitive world and be in the short list is great way to get your name known in the world of photography and gallery. It's also a good way to push yourself and not staying in your confort zone. Be creative and different.
I can't tell you how to win a competition even if I've got some shots Honored and win the Monochrome Photo Awards 2019 with Bull shark dance but I can tell you there are some rules to respect.
1 - Be sure you've got the Raw if asked I was finalist of Nat Geo Beyond the shot but can't find my Raw file when asked so I loose the winning place.
2 - Be sure if there is someone in your shot you've got the authorization to avoid problem
3 -Read the rules and respect them on image size, categories, name of files it’s important
4 - Watch winners gallery first to see how the level Is high and to purpose new images don’t send image close to last winner images if you’ve got an incredible image close to something already win keep it for another contest or the next five years.
5 - Try to keep your shots far from social network to amaze the Jury, if your picture have been seen many times there is no more surprise. It’s something not eas to do cause when you’ve got a great shot you want to share it.
6 - Watch who is the jury if you want to be pro it’s better to be seen by the good people like Natgeo Editors or International Editors
7 - Play Pro not amateur play against the big one even if you are amateur it’s a good way to involve and you would get great surprises. When I look at photo competition with pro and newbies sometimes I am really surprised to see best in amateur. And always surprise to see good photographer to stay winning in second class category when they can be in good place or winner in the first class……
8 - Don’t think about winning think about how your name can be in good place in photo contest use contest as a part of your marketing plan. If you win that’s great but it’s great to be there every year. Winning is about detail and lucky strike watch Siena winners Galery or UPY or Wildlife photographer of the year etc…
9 -Watch what the members of jury like, what they do if they play low light play the game or if they like full of colors be sparkling it’s a good way to play like you are working with editors some like dark, when others full of light and colors.
10 - Be in phase with the contest some contest like very specific graphic like Biophoto, Montier etc… where
they love low shutter speed effect and specific technics. So watch winning images to be sure.
11 - I read lot of advise about photo contest don’t go big first try small and local contest… it’s like soccer or basket ball where do you want to play local or worldwide!!! So play big photo and marathon is the place where you can play with the best, so play with the best. The best way to progress is to watch front of what you loose and who. What make this picture great face to yours. You will get great progress like that. Or you can be the king of the village.
12 - And never forget photo contest is about taste I’ve got some images finalist or winning and do not pass the first stage of other contests. Even if it’s hard at the beginning keep in mind to give your best, not your good. A good picture for magazine is not a good picture for contest. Contest is to sell in gallery. When you watch your pictures say to yourself is this picture can be on my wall living room or not.
13 - At the beginning you will be emotionally affect by yourshot cause you wait for a while for this picture, you are happy to,see this or this and catch it but it’s not a good thing you need to get an outside and honest eye on your work and when you don’t know which is the best do not hesitate to ask to someone honest and emotionally far from you. It’s not about hearing you are the best it’s about how to progress and maki,g good decisions.
14 - The less you crop the better it is you need to edit your picture when you do it not at home on computer. Show you’ve got an eye when you catch your camera. The same light and sharpness.
15 - Photo contest will give you legitimity and do your name on the wall but it’s just a small part of the game. And to bring salary at home
I see so many people now with GoPro and small camera on diving boat trying to catch underwater life but believe me even if I started like that being Wildlife photographer, Underwater photographer or Nature photographer is not so easy and so glamour than you think…
First it’s a real passion I like to be lot of time in water sometimes I can stay 4-5 hours a day and sometimes more looking for life, searching behavior, waiting for good light and visibility. When I am on boat I see people expecting catching a good shot with one hour max. They can be in a lucky day but generally they come back home with a blur image, a back of an animal but nothing really good or great.
As you can see you need a good place to be, time and practicing. But it’s not enough you also need to choose a place where you can get good conditions and story to tell. I choose to live in Mayotte Indian Ocean first it’s a place and area less documented than Pacific with nature conservancy to develop for sea turtle, manta ray and coral reef. When you have to make a photo it’s to tell something, to show something that is important for you to tell. Use your camera as a medium to express what you want to.
As you can see you need a good place to be, time and practicing. But it’s not enough you also need to choose a place where you can get good conditions and story to tell.
I choose to live in Mayotte Indian Ocean first it’s a place and area less documented than Pacific with nature conservancy to develop for sea turtle, manta ray and coral reef. When you have to make a photo it’s to tell something, to show something that is important for you to tell. Use your camera as a medium to express what you want to. The picture : play with lines, light, reflection, shapes. Watch lot of pictures even in portrait, nature, landscape, travel etc… find inspiration but do not copy. A guy under or up to a school of fish can means something different it remind me that shot amazed me of David Doubillet with barracudas in Papouasie the diver was up, I’ve done one in French Polynesia were the diver was down and for me it’s not the same meaning, the photos don’t tell the same story.
So you can say ok guy but how you stay 4-5hours in water… to get great shots you need to be in water so you need to live near water or to work as marine biologist or to be a scuba diver instructor. I choose the first option Cause I need to be focus on what I want to do as pictures. If you want to be a photographer you need to involve and practice a lot. People says I’ve got some great shots but when I asked them how many pictures they took on boat 4-5 when I took perhaps 300 trying to play with aperture, shutter speed, iso wide angle, narrow, macro, flash, light, natural light etc… and at the end I’ve got 4-5 good pictures.
we will see soon in an other article what is good to great pictures.
Focus on one or two ideas no more : you have to decide if you want to shot wide angle or macro, portrait or behavior. You can also imagine your shot. Personally I use YouTube as virtual dive watching movie and imagine the shot I would like to do in this place. Ask to your guide the specification of dive sites of the day. Don’t also forget to ask when is the best visibility to get best shot. August is a July-August is not the best moment to get great shot in Baja California but in October-December it’s pristine seas and full of life.
And you what are your best tricks to get great shots ? Feel free to comment.
When you start as scubadiver or freediver you want to catch lot of things and do both photography and Vidéo. But that’s not a great idea. Some put a Go Pro on their underwater Housings to get both. But let’s talk about that
Video : first when you do videos underwater the first thing you need to think is not moving, shaking your camera. The moment you catch must be very stable. You have to make various plan of a situation wide angle and narrow, think about a story to tell, talk about a specie or a place. And music is also very important point to put in another dimension your videos. Dude you are creating a movie. I like thinking today who wants to be creative can, we have today all we need for that smartphone, drone, camera, software are very easy to use and more affordable than ever before. For video you need action, movement, variation of speed slow down slow slow etc choose your rythme it’s your story. Don’t run after species let them come to you, wait be patient. A good scene is about finding interactions. For myself I don’t like video about a specie then another and another even if the shots are great for me it’s not a video but a photo interactive. Tell a story!!! You are going to the same place cause you love it explain why, you love a specie why this specie is so particular to you, you made a great encounter with a fantastic guide explain why others need to go with him, you are in underwater sport explain your passion to your sport and how to practice it.
Photo : my first love was for videos. What I love is movement of animal but learning photography and underwater photography can also be a great things to do. You will learning to use Manual mode of your camera and impact of ISO, aperture and shutter speed on your image even in video. So it’s a great way to get great video images after a good photography practicing. As I told you in. Precedent article photography need more patient and loneliness than videos. You need to wait the moment, you need to think before going down what picture you want. And you need to be more artistic than in video. Without a good skills of camera use you can’t do great things even with good camera. You need to play Raw and when you shoot think about your editing in your photography software the better you do underwater the less you will have to crop, retouching, relighting on your software. The less you crop the bigger you can print, best selling price you can get cause big printing brings much money. When you are underwater think about editing, do your editing underwater. It’s also a great way to be competitive in wildlife photography. You also need to make a cruel choice what kind of picture you want to catch today…… macro ok macro and then a big manta ray front of you. Appreciate how lucky you are to be there front of magic animal and go to your macro shoot. You bring wide and find only nudibranchies. That’s the game. But when stars are aligned believe me you will get great pictures. You can take a lens like 24-105 but it’s not wide at all or macro at all don’t think about compromises in your art think about your result, your willing. The compromise you can made it’s two get two cameras with a good buddy carry one for you.