Do you know your main subject?

You might think it’s very simple, but many photographers struggle with being able to have a clear main subject. As a photography judge, I see this all time. Photos are complex and have a variety of elements but having an obvious subject grabs the viewers’ attention immediately. Judges have a very short amount of time to evaluate and score the photo presented.  So a strong subject will grab them right away an

Coyote (Canis latrans) feeding.                                          Well placed subject in photo

Well placed subject

Ask yourself these questions…
What do I see first? Is it the main subject what you want to convey or are other things vying for your attention?

How is your Composition?

Having a strong composition will give your image overall balance and a sense of order allowing the viewer’s eye to focus in on the main subject.

Composition rules to follow and break when it enhances your photos.

  • Keep it simple – look at your image have only one main subject
  • Backgrounds – have a wide aperture giving you a soft bokeh. Make sure you have no items that can distract from your main subject.
  • Rule of thirds –  divide your frame into three sections vertical and horizontal place your main subject on the crossing lines where by giving you strong main focal point.
  • Fill the frame –  this is to help you simplify your photo, this also helps you focus in on your main subject

Great composition by Tina with great foreground well place photographer and a nice back ground.



Do I have the image in focus and tack sharp?

If a photo isn’t as sharp as a tack, it will catch the judge’s eye immediately. Focus will vary on your subjects. For wildlife, you should always have the animal’s eye tack sharp as this is the main focal point in the photo

Tack sharp owl focus on the eyes



Ask yourself these questions…Did I have the focus on the correct element?  Is it out of focus because that was the plan or did I just not have proper focus?

Do I have correct exposure?

Exposure loosely refers to the amount of light that is let into the sensor on your camera. The more light you let in, the brighter the resulting picture. Conversely, the less light you let in, the darker the picture.

Judging images over time has allowed me to be able to very quickly notice if the photo is either too dark and no detail in the shadows, or if it is bright with high lights blown out. Try adjusting the ISO, aperture and shutter speed to get it right in camera. This will eliminate some post processing

Well placed subject. The light was brighter in the background making it trick for w well lite subject. A hint of flash to illuminate the couple.


Ask yourself these question?

Is the exposure correct for what I’m trying to convey in my main subject? Do I need contrast to enhance the photo?

Does light strengthen my photo?

In photography light is everything. This sets the mood and the tone of the main subject. Correct light will help you guide your viewers’ eyes to the area of importance. The eye will always go to the brightest point in an image, so be very careful with this element in your photos. Mastering this alone will improve most photographers score by at least a couple of points.

Ask yourself these questions?

Is the light correct for the image? Is the light flat, harsh, soft? Does it add to the photographer’s vision? How can I improve the light? (dodging and burning)

Does my photo tell a story?

Often I will remember the photo if it told a story. If you have a strong image, the story will be evident at first glance. It will  hold your interest or give you a strong sense of emotion.

Happy bride after the I do


Ask yourself these questions?

Does this image grab your attention? Does it make you feel an emotion? Can you relate to the main subject? How can I change the composition to strengthen my story?

Is my image creative?

This is another element that will raise scores in a competition. When I finish post processing my images, I start to play with colours and lighting. I try to put a new and fresh twist on an old subject

The scarlet macaw (Ara macao )                                               THE BEFORE SHOT


Creative Photo



Ask yourself these questions?

Is it showing the subject a different way? Do the colours work in harmony with the photo?  What else can I try that will wow the judge so they may remember my photo?