Contest Help
Tips for entering your best work in the Equine Photo Contest

Courtesy Terri Miller, EPC Judge, Spring 2005

A few things to consider before you submit your entry. Your photo will be judged on several criteria, both technical and artistic. So before you hit the "Send" button, look at your photo as if you've never seen it before and ask:
  • Is it in focus?
  • Is it properly exposed?
  • Is the color pleasing?
  • Is it cropped in the most appealing manner?
  • Is the horizon level?
  • Is it beautifully presented?
-- 99% of the time, digital images do not come out of the camera ready for public display. Assess your images and adjust some or all of Curves, Hue/Saturation, Levels, Color Balance for more clarity, better color and better contrast. Many otherwise good image will lack "pop" because this step in post production was overlooked.

-- If you must scan your images, make sure you know how to get proper color and exposure from your scanner. Too often, images with tell-tale purple shadows and overall flat color will lose points because of a poorly scanned photo.

-- When you scan images, sometimes there is a white border around the edge of the image. Often, that border is uneven. CROP IT OUT!!! It is unacceptable to submit an entry to a photo contest without taking this basic step toward good presentation Ė this is akin to bringing your horse into the show ring with mud caked all over it!

-- Decide what your image is about. Then crop all areas of the photo that are either distracting or do not enhance the impact of the image, but leave enough "elbow room" on the page for your subject to not feel crowded.

-- If you are going to crop off a body part, do it like you mean it. Accidentally cutting off a horseís ears, or the top of a riderís head, does not qualify as an artistic decision. Make sure your cropping enhances your composition, rather than detracting from it.

-- STRAIGHTEN your images so your horizon lines are horizontal and your fence posts, trees, etc are perfectly vertical.

-- We all know that horses have big brown eyes. But if you are going to do close ups of them, you need to show me something more than just the fact that they are big and they are brown. I had a painting teacher who looked at a painting of mine once and said, "Youíve painted the grass green. I KNOW grass is green. Tell me something about grass that I DONíT know." Try to show us something about a horse's eye that we donít know.

-- If you are going to photograph an eye, place it somewhere other than precisely in the center of the image.

-- Poles sticking out of a horseís head or back do NOT improve a photo.

-- If you are going to replace a background, make sure that you do an excellent, seamless job of it, and be certain that the new background is more interesting to look at than the original.

-- Beautiful light is a wonderful starting point. But no amount of lemony evening light is going to correct a bad background, a fuzzy subject or a crooked horizon.

-- Photos entered in a contest should be your BEST work, so if you even THINK this statement applies to you, you need to reassess the product you are creating.

-- The three things the top images have in common: Composition. Composition. Composition. Compelling composition creates visual interest. If you start with great composition, you MAY be able to wind up with a great image. With a great composition, you can add all the other elements that create a "10" image.

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