Winning Tips

Tips for Winning

Barry Jackson's Hints for Placing in HPS Competitions

  • Make sure your entry communicates the monthly word or words.
  • Utilize strong composition elements such as s-curves, diagonals, triangles, thirds, x-y points, and near-far perspective.
  • Exposure needs to be good. Under or overexposure shows up worse when put beside a properly exposed image.
  • The image usually needs to be sharp. Movement or poor focus can ruin a good image.
  • Dramatic or moody light qualities are almost always good.
  • Try not to submit images that are too similar in subject or technique if the technique is unusual. Don't take away your own thunder. You want your image to stand out from the rest. You don't want to compete with yourself.
  • Presentation is very important. Your mat or mounting should not take away from the image. Some judges like white mats, some judges don't. Simple is usually better. Color mats are always tricky.
  • If you feel you have good images in all categories, enter two in each. If you have a strength, go for that category with four entries. A good compromise is one, two, three. Black and White usually has less entries but often doesn't receive as many awards. You can win by only entering two categories all year.
  • 8 X 10's and 11 X 14's are usually your best choice for print size. I haven't been able to determine that 11 X 14's have an advantage over 8 X 10's. 5 X 7's will place but they have to work a little harder. 16 X 20's don't seem to have much of an advantage.
  • Make sure your slides are clean. Learn to use cropping tape. Look at your slide projected.
  • Work your archives.
  • Don't get discouraged. If you don't place, or don't place often enough, or don't place high enough, you can improve. Ask some of the other members to help.

25 Photographic Truths

  1. The best scenic views are clearly designated by highway signs reading NO STOPPING ANYTIME.
  2. Edward Steichen owned a three-legged dog, which he named Tripod.
  3. The Post Office folds all parcels containing photographs.
  4. Camera straps never fail above soft surfaces.
  5. Lens caps and cable releases can become invisible at will.
  6. Spotone bottles are designed to tip over when the cap is removed.
  7. Financial success in photography is directly related to proper choice of subject matter. Falling airplanes, exploding volcanoes, and certain Presidential motorcades work best.
  8. No two light meters agree.
  9. The word “Daguerreotype” cannot be spelled correctly.
  10. A new Hasselblad would take better pictures than your present camera.
  11. 1/60 at f/8 is the correct exposure for all photographs.
  12. When your friends finally realize that you are a true artist, committed to making sensitive and meaningful images, they will ask you to photograph their wedding.
  13. Color slide viewing cures insomnia.
  14. On any tripod, only two legs work properly.
  15. Dust spot are attracted to sky areas.
  16. YES, PHOTOGRAPHERS DO IT IN THE DARK… but they have to stop every thirty seconds to agitate.
  17. There's nothing wrong with a 35mm that a 4×5 can't cure.
  18. Ansel Adams has three Secret Zones known only to him.
  19. Wet prints, when dropped, like buttered toast, will always fall face-down.
  20. Fast films compensate for slow photographers.
  21. Mounting a photograph is a misdemeanor in Arkansas.
  22. Owning more than one lens assures that you will always have the wrong lens on the camera for any given picture.
  23. A camera store will charge $75 to repair a camera that has been adjusted with a butter knife.
  24. Falling lenses are attracted to rocks.
  25. Into every life a little grain must fall.

Happy Shooting!


All I can do in my writing is to stimulate a certain amount of thought, clarify some technical facts and date my work. But when I preach sharpness, brilliancy, scale, etc., I am just mouthing words, because no words can really describe those terms and qualities it takes the actual print to say, “here it is.” -Ansel Adams

When I'm ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without. -Ansel Adams

The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance. -Ansel Adams

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. -Ansel Adams

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them. -Diane Arbus

I seek out places where it can happen more readily, such as deserts or mountains or solitary areas, or by myself with a seashell, and while I'm there get into states of mind where I'm more open than usual. I'm waiting, I'm listening. I go to those places and get myself ready through meditation. Through being quiet and willing to wait, I can begin to see the inner man and the essence of the subject in front of me… Watching the way the current moves a blade of grass – sometimes I've seen that happen and it has just turned me inside out. -Minor White

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. -Dorothea Lange

Ultimately, simplicity is the goal – in every art, and achieving simplicity is one of the hardest things to do. Yet it's easily the most essential. -Pete Turner

…a very receptive state of mind…not unlike a sheet of film itself – seemingly inert, yet so sensitive that a fraction of a second's exposure conceives a life in it. -Minor White

Results are uncertain even among the more experienced photographers. -Matthew Brady

It's important to take bad pictures. It's the bad ones that have to do with what you've never done before. They can make you recognize something you hadn't seen in a way that will make you recognize it when you see it again.-Diane Arbus

To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It's at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.
-Henri Cartier-Bresson

You have to have it in you first, you don't learn it. The seeing eye is the important thing. -Imogen Cunningham

Once the amateur's naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur. -Alfred Eisenstaedt

A picture is the expression of an impression. If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it? -Ernst Haas

The limitations of photography are in yourself, for what we see is only what we are. -Ernst Haas

This benefit of seeing…can come only if you pause a while, extricate yourself from the maddening mob of quick impressions ceaselessly battering our lives, and look thoughtfully at a quiet image…the viewer must be willing to pause, to look again, to meditate. -Dorothea Lange

…innocence of eye has a quality of its own. It means to see as a child sees, with freshness and acknowledgment of the wonder; it also means to see as an adult sees who has gone full circle and once again sees as a child – with freshness and an even deeper sense of wonder. -Minor White

The camera always points both ways. In expressing your subject, you also express yourself.
-Freeman Patterson

What do you think has been your contribution to today's photography? “Thanks to my effort in the last 40 years, there has been more paper and film wasted.” -Man Ray

I find the single most valuable tool in the darkroom is my trash can – that's where most of my prints end up. -John Sexton

If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.
-Garry Winogrand

Up to and including the moment of exposure, the photographer is working in an undeniably subjective way. By his choice of technical approach, by the selection of the subject matter…and by his decision as to the exact cinematic instant of exposure, he is blending the variables of interpretation into an emotional whole. -W. Eugene Smith

Hardening of the categories causes art disease. -W. Eugene Smith

The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality. -Susan Sontag

The use of the term “art medium” is, to say the least, misleading, for it is the artist that creates a work of art not the medium. It is the artist in photography that gives form to content by a distillation of ideas, thought, experience, insight and understanding. -Edward Steichen

In the very beginning, when the operator controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in the dark room the developer is mixed for detail, breath, flatness or contrast, faking has been resorted to. In fact every photograph is a fake from start to finish. A purely impersonal, unmanipulated photograph is practically impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of degree and ability. -Edward Steichen

One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is to look at the real world and cling to the vain hope that next time his film will somehow bear a closer resemblance to it…If we limit our vision to the real world, we will forever be fighting on the minus side of things, working only to make our photographs equal to what we see out there, but no better.
-Galen Rowell

All art is a lie… a lie that reveals the truth. -Pablo Picasso