Judge not, that ye, etc

Actually I especially like judging. I spent tonight judging photos for a contest at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.

Invited to do so with three other photographers, I judged 200 images – we quickly narrowed it down to 20, and ranked those.

This job was remarkably easy, because so many people make very basic mistakes. If you want your photo to be good, at least make sure it makes it though that first sifting. To do that, do a few simple things.

Here’s the “baker’s dozen better-get this-rights”:

  1. Ensure that your photo is in focus.
  2. Straighten horizons.
  3. Keep the image simple
  4. Crop as needed.
  5. Expose well.
  6. Make sure there is light on the subject’s face, not back.
  7. Use the rule of thirds (or at least compose appropriately, and avoid centering).
  8. Avoid “tension points”, where you cut off just a small part of a hand, say.
  9. Avoid clichés (the CN tower has been photographed before).
  10. Avoid HDR unless it is really needed.
  11. Avoid badly dodging and burning – “halos” around a subject are a dead giveaway.
  12. Avoid obscuring important parts of the image. A beam across your subject’s eye means the picture is a loss, much as you otherwise like it.
  13. Do not oversaturate the photo.

So many otherwise great photos dropped out instantly becasue of those. And they are easy to get right.

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