The KPC Photo Essay Competition 2012-2013
This competition is designed to get teams of two
or three members to work together to produce a photo-journalistic
slideshow, with the benefit of being able to work together to come up
with ideas and techniques. It is meant, first and foremost, to be a
good way to learn more about telling a story with photography. There
will be a prize awarded annually for the best Essay, possibly with
'runner-up' prizes..... and would make good viewing at our Awards
Night. It is intended that the whole membership can be shown the essays
and asked to vote on their favourites - so no 'judges'. The winning
entry each season will also be submitted to CAPA for a club entry in
their annual Photo Essay Competition, so we're going to follow their
For several years, the KPC ran the area
Audio-Visual Show, a prestigious event which became popular with
members of many clubs in Eastern Ontario - and a good fund-raiser. Our
main experts, however, both left the club at the same time and we
haven't had the expertise to run the show since - perhaps we can revive
A 'Photo Essay' is an image story - a digital
slideshow - which describes a subject, accompanied by words and/or
music and presented in a pleasing and understandable manner. There are
many photo essays available on the web for viewing. CAPA have two types
of show - 'Photo Essay' and 'Travel Essay'.
(We need some clarification as to whether the
club's entry to CAPA should be one or the other, or both.)
RULES for Team Essays:
1. The Essay should have
either descriptive text or a spoken commentary, and should contain
appropriate music (credited). (This is where the help of a third or
fourth member of the team may be useful)
2. The maximum length of
the essay is five minutes Four minutes is
recommended. With each slide showing for around ten seconds, including
transitions, that means a lot of images! Even with Intro images
(titles, credits, etc) in the show as well, it's still going to be
around 25 images.
3. Any image not
previously entered in a photo essay may be used.
4. Essays should be ready
by the end of March annually and will be judged by the Competition
Chair and two assistants.
5. As we would be showing
the Essay to CAPA, we must note their recommended software: "Proshow
Gold", but Lightroom or Elements could be used to put the show on a WMV
(Windows Media Video) file. Alternatively, "Sony Vegas", "Pictures to
exe" or "Mac to exe".
- 6. The theme or subject of the Essay is
7. Team Essay:
Two (2) member team:
not more than 60% of the images may be made by one team member.
Three (3) member team:
not more than 40% of images may be made by one team member.
Four (4) member team:
not more than 30% of the images may be made by one team member.
It may be beneficial
to recruit an extra member of your team (up to a maximum of four) who
is more comfortable with slideshow software or Lightroom, Photoshop
etc. If this member is employed solely to design
the slideshow, then the team must act as a three-member team, with
appropriate percentages as above. So the maximum
number of members is FOUR.
- Club members can be in more than one team -
production of the necessary images may not take all that long and you
may enjoy it so much you want to do another one, with the same team or
- While the Exec may occasionally ask members
about the progress of the Essays, it's just to make sure we'll have a
reasonable number of entries to vote on (probably in March of each
year) and not be voting on just one or two entries or have a totally
'blank' evening. There's no 'registration' or need to inform the Exec
about teams, or their subjects until just prior to the voting night
(perhaps February). Feel free to surprise your colleagues!
The team needs to
submit details of the show, its subject and the names of the members of
the production team (perhaps February, as above, or when formal entries
are called for) to the designated Competition Organiser. A downloadable
Form is available, which, when completed, should show the
names of the team members, the essay title, file format, number of
pictures per member etc. Be prepared to bring your Essay on a USB drive
or DVD to the voting night.
8. Scoring: Members in attendance on the
night of the competition (Monday April 16th) will be given a
Photo Essay Voting Form containing a list of the Essays to be
seen and they will be invited to, individually, give marks out of 100
points as follows:
Continuity and Editing
9. Results will be known
at the end of the meeting and prizes (to be arranged) will be awarded
for 1st 2nd and 3rd places at the Awards Night.
Most of the following, particularly the planning,
are best done in a team - so here is the agenda for your planning
1 Tell a story
Use photography to tell a story. First you’ll need to choose a subject,
which can be the hardest part of the process. Before you head off to
far-reaching countries, try experimenting with story ideas closer to
home. Whether it’s the drudgery of life in an office or the joy of
working your own allotment, you’ll find there are plenty of interesting
stories near by.
2 Do some research
Even if the story is close to your heart or home, you should still do
some research. Plan what you want to say. Ask yourself if you want to
tell the story in just one shot or whether the subject might benefit
from a series of multiple pictures. A photo essay, for example, could
help you to reveal more about your subject.
3 Choose your style
Think about the way you intend to shoot and how you want the final
image to look and feel. Do you want the finished pictures to be in
black and white or colour? Do you only want to use natural light to
enhance the mood, or will hard flash light add to your story? A bit of
planning will make your photos more coherent.
4 Be prepared
Once you’ve decided on an approach and style you’ll need to ensure you
have the right gear to capture your shot. You probably won’t need to
take your entire kit bag with you, so just select the tools you need.
Be sure you’ve got the right focal lengths covered, and ask yourself if
you might need a tripod. Are your camera batteries fully charged? Have
you got spare batteries for your flashgun and plenty of memory cards?
Don’t let a lack of preparation ruin a shoot.
5 Get permission
Though usually not strictly necessary from a legal point of view, it’s
a good idea to seek permission, especially if you’re photographing
people going about their business. Explain what you’re doing and you’ll
often get a hearty collaboration from your subject, but sneak around
suspiciously and you’ll be given a wide berth or asked to leave. If
you’re working on a long-term project you’ll need to build a healthy
rapport to get results. You could take your
pictures from a distance, but you're not going to get that immediacy
that is required.
6 Don't rush
The best documentary pictures are often the result of a long-term
project, so try not to rush in and attempt to capture all the shots in
one go. If you do end up with limited time in one location, try to
maximise the time you have. Plan with your team members just what shots
7 Get back-up
One of the most important tasks for a digital photographer is to ensure
all your images are safe. As soon as you get back from your day’s
shooting, download your images and make back-up copies on an external
hard-drive or DVD. It’s a good idea to keep your back-ups in a
different location to your main computer.
8 Process your images
Once your images are safe you can start to process them. If you shoot
in RAW you can make most of your tweaks to colour, tone and contrast at
the processing stage using smart software such as Adobe Camera Raw. For
a documentary project it’s unlikely that you’ll want to manipulate your
images heavily. Just make a few adjustments or try converting to black
and white - it can often, but not always, give added impact.
9 Think about presentation
Once you’ve finished your project, think about how you want to show it
off. This is where the computer know-how comes in - but if it's a major
problem ask somebody else to put it together for you. This extra person
will be included in your team (up to a limit of four). Once you’ve made
a series of images, as well as the slideshow you could have them
printed and framed to be hung in an exhibition (possibly using some of
the extra shots that were made), or perhaps they would be better suited
to being viewed in a book format. There are plenty of online printing
services that can make great books of your pictures for a reasonable
10 Learn from the best photographers
is a photo agency that was founded by Robert Capa, Henri
Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour just after the
Second World War. It’s since become one of the world’s most important