What Makes an Award-Profitable Portrait? 

Images competitions assist photographers develop creatively, and having an award-winning portrait may also be an excellent advertising instrument. In 2018, Sue Bryce, creator of The Portrait System created The Portrait Masters Awards & Accreditation Program to provide portrait photographers in her neighborhood and past these helpful credentials and development alternatives. Since then, the competitors has attracted 1000’s of submissions from across the globe for every of its three rounds – within the spring, summer time, and late fall.  

The most recent spherical of the competitors closes for entries this Friday, August 10 at midnight with an expectation that submissions will hold rolling in proper till the final second. 5 judges will rating every entry with an opportunity to obtain Bronze, Silver, or Gold awards based mostly on a mean of their scores. The very best-scoring pictures in every class will obtain $1,000 and a trophy, and the highest-scoring picture general will obtain an extra $1,000 and one other trophy. 

Moreover, The Portrait Masters tracks factors for entrants as they work towards accumulating sufficient to earn accreditation as an Affiliate, Grasp, or Fellow. This yr’s winners and accreditation earners shall be introduced at a particular ceremony and celebration this September at The Portrait Masters Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.  

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Belinda Richards, Inventive Portrait, 4th Place © Belinda Richards

Elements for Success 

Competitors for The Portrait Masters Awards and different images contests may be stiff, and it might take one thing further particular to face out from the group and win high awards. Shopping awards galleries of previous winners is a superb method to see what it takes to attain on the high. You can even achieve deeper perception from watching critiques from judges.   

Throughout a current stay critique session, Portrait Masters Awards & Accreditation Director Richard Wooden—who can also be a winner of quite a few photograph competitors honors—described the three keys to creating an award-winning photographic portrait.   

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Portrait Masters Director & Decide, Richard Wooden 

Three Keys to Award-Profitable Photographic Portraits  

  1. Craft: It’s essential have this nailed first earlier than you’ll be able to go additional.  
  1. Storytelling: When there’s connection, there’s emotion, which brings about narrative.  
  1. Originality: Creativity and innovation – present the judges one thing they’ve by no means seen earlier than.  
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Marta Losiewicz, Household and Group Portrait, twelfth Place © Marta Losiewicz


It would go with out saying, nevertheless it bears repeating. One should completely have honed the mechanics and methods of images to have the ability to push the boundaries and go even additional into innovating pictures that inform compelling tales that seize the judges’ imaginations by displaying them one thing they’ve by no means seen earlier than.  

For those who really feel like it’s good to brush up in your digital camera expertise, it by no means hurts to go to a course like John Greengo’s Digital camera 101. If lighting is an space the place you are feeling you’d wish to go deeper, you’ll be able to’t flawed with any of Felix Kunze’s lighting programs.

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Cassandra Jones, Household and Group Portrait, 4th Place, © Cassandra Jones


In response to Wooden, when you’ve nailed your craft, the following degree to beat is storytelling. Whereas this might sound elusive, the best way to storytelling is kind of easy.  

Wooden says, “Storytelling, narrative, emotion, and connection are all a part of the identical field. In case your topic has connection, they’re going to point out emotion – connection and emotion. They arrive collectively; they’re brother and sister.   

And for those who’ve bought that connection, and that emotion, swiftly, you’ve bought storytelling, as a result of if there’s one thing to be emotive about, there’s a narrative behind it. There’ll be one thing that’s making you are feeling that method.” 

In response to Wooden, when your topic is engaged and linked, the emotion they specific will give the {photograph} a narrative. The presence of emotion provides the viewer a way that one thing deeper is occurring inside the portrait. 


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Angela Vizcaino, Inventive Portrait, fifteenth Place © Angela Vizcaino


Wooden believes the ultimate ingredient that makes portraits stand out in a crowd is originality. Whereas he finds himself utilizing phrases like innovation, creativity, and originality, what all of them boil right down to is creativity, and specifically, having the ability to create one thing that hasn’t been seen earlier than. 

For those who really feel caught and wish slightly inspiration to get your creativeness flowing, take a look at Richard Wooden’s Creativeness Collection. It comes with a toolbox for getting your inventive juices flowing and for manifesting these visions. 

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Gabriela Ghillanyova Hatami, Inventive Portrait, 2nd Place © Gabriela Ghillanyova Hatami


To sum all of it up, Richard Wooden says that past stunning craft, judges wish to see footage that ”take us on a journey – whether or not it’s by connection or emotion. . . Similar with storytelling and narrative. . . We wish to see one thing that we now have not seen earlier than.” 

You possibly can view Wooden’s rationalization of what makes an award-winning portrait and browse the transcript right here. To see extra examples of pictures that exhibit these qualities, go to The Portrait Masters Awards Gallery.  

 Enter The Portrait Masters Awards. 

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