Article Words : Paul Goldstein | 20 August

How to win Wanderlust's Travel Photo of the Year competition

Are you thinking of entering our annual travel photography competition? Give your entry a head start with this advice from one of the judges...

So you want to win a prestigious photo competition? Of course you do. Is it easy? No – and nor should it be. Here are some inside tips from our Travel Photo of the Year competition judge Paul Goldstein...

Do...

1. Enter! You have to be 'in it to win it'. There's no use complaining about the judges' verdicts if you haven’t even entered.
2. Be original: that is what the judges are looking for more than anything else.
3. Give us your best: your five-star efforts. Don’t make up the numbers with your two- and three-star ones.
4. Read the rules: don’t waste your time (or ours).
5. Process your photos properly and honestly.
6. Be bold: better an image draws a strong opinion (even a bad one) than a safe one. Experiment with shutter speeds and different angles.
7. Prepare for the competition all year, think of images before you take them, don’t just round up a few hopefuls.
8. Show us you have worked hard for your image – believe me, it is always very evident.
9. Be proud of your photographs: if you get shortlisted, it is worthy of documentation. This is a big competition.
10. Tell your friends about the competition: the more people enter, the greater the gravitas of the awards.


2014 Icon Highly Commended: Twin Pagodas, by Zay Yar Lin

Don't...

1. Be influenced too much by other photographers: we want to see you put your own stamp on your images, not copy old ideas.
2. Cook your images. Show us what you have taken, not manipulated: proper photography is about research, ability, hard work, enterprise and élan – not about your ability to manufacture images (which is nothing short of fraud).
3. Be lazy: a photo taken very early is invariably better than those taken later on.
4. Be insensitive: whatever you are photographing, remember that the subject’s well-being is always more important than your megapixels.
5. Be presumptuous: just because it is a rare animal/tribe/bird does not mean it will automatically win. Whilst we appreciate the hardship involved, it still has to be a good photo.
6. Expect your spanking new camera to do all the work. Yes, it may have great video, infra-red settings, 55 frames a second, GPS tracking, two processors, watertight sealants and Wi-Fi – but it still has a human behind it.
7. Kid yourself something is sharp when it's not. If it's not sharp, delete it. The only exception is when you are working with slow shutter speeds, when just the head needs to be sharp.
8. Pretend it is something it is not. Wild animals must be wild. People shots must be as natural as possible – not horribly posed.
9. Send us something that doesn't meet the size requirements. Take the photo in Raw, then process it and send us high resolution shots – but not over the size requested.
10. Be too sensitive. You should welcome constructive criticism. Compile a short-list of shots for the competition and show it to a few friends whose opinions you respect. 

Think your photos have what it it takes to win Wanderlust's Travel Photo of the Year? Show us what you've got! Enter the competition here...


Main image: 2014 Wildlife Winner: Red-footed falcon by John Webster