Print: “The Evolution of Family”
Paper: Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag
Award: Third Place in Bridal Party/Family and
Friends (Wedding Division)
This was captured on a sunny summer day in
Stockholm, Sweden, where I live. I imagined
the bridal group walking against the light,
with the contrast of the white bridal dress
against the dark wooden wall. One of the
children had just had a tantrum, and we were
short of time as the other wedding guests
were waiting for the group to come. The
children were told a story by me to change
focus, and I then asked them to stand first
in line toward the light. Their mother and
father were the bride and groom, standing
behind them, and their groomsman and
bridesmaids were last.
Judges don’t know this backstory—I
primarily shoot for my clients. The third person
from the left was the bride’s sister, and she
wanted to be close to the wedding couple.
If I had shot it only for the judges, I may have
changed the place of the two bridesmaids to
make the group more bell shaped.
The paper has a high Dmax (or “maximum
density”), exceptional grey tones and a true,
pure white tone without optical brighteners. It
feels, to me, like a traditional darkroom paper.
“A satin finish Baryta paper was the best
choice to render the subtle shadow details
and large range of tones in this image.
Matte papers cannot provide the same deep
blacks and would be too weak under the
with telling a complete story.
Let’s consider that impact is similar to
asking someone to look at something, or
perhaps in a bolder manner, commanding
them to look at your print. Experienced judges
are not performing a critique of your entry,
which by its very definition is more analytical;
instead, they are conducting an evaluation that
considers both the objective and subjective.
When your entry comes up, you’ll see the
judges respond by how actively you’re asking
us to look at your print. A print with great initial
impact invites us to do more than merely look
but encourages us to examine your print,
which is a more active form of seeing, so
to speak. As we do, there may be elements
that jump out, suggesting they require more
refinement or things that are distracting.
What I encourage you to keep in mind is the
feeling we experience after seeing your print.
Did you reward us for taking the time to gaze
upon your photo, or is it like a shiny object that
from afar piques interest but when you get
close falls apart? Think about a great novel,
movie or song you enjoy: Did you walk way
glad you invested your time and energy in it?
All of us want to feel rewarded for seeing
your photography. That’s when we have
an opportunity to start enjoying the story
within your photo, dive into the emotion and
connect with what it is your unique voice
is trying to communicate to us. Arguably,
your unique voice lets you showcase your
originality, creativity and make your case for
why your photo represents the best in its class
for the particular category.
All this is to say, of course, that you’ve got
to master the care and control you place in
the crafting of your print competition entries.
But to make a winning print that grabs first
through third place or even the elusive Grand
Award requires something more. It requires
creating a “complete” picture, and that
creative process begins long before we ever
pick up our camera.
Shoot for good
exposure from the
start. Often that
means using manual
settings. It helps to
have a camera that
has a high dynamic
range, especially in
like this. I use the
Nikon D850 that
also lets me crop in
if needed without