23 June 2017

Ten Top Tips for Competition Portraits - Tip 4 - Best Portrait Lens

What do novelist Bryce Coutenay and photographer Brett Canet-Gibson have in common?

They both believe in The Power of One.

Trevor Jamieson © Brett Canet-Gibson
Brett has established himself as an outstanding portrait photographer on the international stage. His stunning images and unique approach are surprising many diehard photographers. Bryce Courtenay was author of world famous novel, The Power of One.

What makes Brett Canet-Gibson so different - he just uses ONE lens. That's right. Just ONE lens. A Nikon 50mm prime lens on his Nikon camera.

Brett, from Perth, Western Australia shoots a portrait most days, setting up a simple black backdrop in an urban setting. He approaches interesting people, chats with them. shows them his folio of work and invites them to pose for 10 to 15 minutes. Brett is an honest, believable photographer with a personable approach.
'Stay with me' he says softly as he fixes the eye-meet and captures another powerful image.

To see more of Brett's images click HERE.

Entries are now open for the 2017 Fremantle International Portrait Prize. $12000 in cash and prizes. Proceeds to the Arthritis Foundation of Western Australia. The photographic competition the world is coming to love.
For details click HERE.

19 June 2017

Ten Top Tips for Competition Portraits - Tip 3 - Developing Your Signature Style

If you make a mistake once or twice, critics will tell you you have stuffed up.
If you make that same mistake 70 or 80 times people will recognise that you have developed your own style, your signature style.
Now make that mistake 500 times and you have a body of work.
That means you can stage an exhibition!

Well known photographers often sign their work. But they don't really need to. People can usually recognise the author by the style of the portrait.

To develop your own style you need to be brave and adventurous. You need to avoid being contained and constrained by rules and guidelines.

Urs Buhlman is one photographer not constrained by the rules and by orgnaisations.. In an interview a few years ago Urs told me:

'See that bowling green, they are all the photographers out there; see that funny looking weed spouting up out of the pavement  …….  thats me'. 

Image: © Urs Buhlman 

Sometimes the judging systems, 'the five point system', the '17 point guidelines', the 33% merit system only serve to constrain and limit the development of a photographer's individual style. As a result,  all the portraits taken by photographers conforming to the judging system start to look much the same. Sure, there's nothing wrong with them. But they lack adrenalin. They lack the photographer's personal signature style. The images have been homogenised

Look to make mistakes and lay your style out there for all to see.

"Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
Throughout the sensual world proclaim,
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name."
Thomas Osbert Mordaunt

A retrospective image of finalists from FIPP 2013 and FIPP 2015 is hanging in Brookfield Place 125 St George's Tce until 23 June 2017.
Learn more about FIPP - click HERE

14 June 2017

Ten Top Tips for Competition Portraits - No 2 - As Sharp as a Surgeon's Scalpel

'The eyes are the windows to the soul'

While you don't HAVE to have the eyes sparkling like the stars it sure helps to attract the judges' attention in competition.

Just think about the situation a moment.
Human subject - moving a little (or a lot)
Photographer, no tripod, swaying in the breeze.
In other words two moving targets.

That means you need a a few things happening for all the stars and moons to align.

  • Fast shutter speed - faster than 1/200 sec (or the focal length!)
  • Focusing between the colour and white of the eye
  • Focusing on the near side eye
  • catchlight in the eye
Entries to the 2017 Fremantle Portrait Prize are open to 10 August.


04 June 2017

Ten Top Tips for Competition Portraits - No 1

Starting today we will be posting a series of tips for portraiture in competitions. As Chief Steward of the Fremantle International Portrait Prize I am in the fortunate position of reviewing thousands of images without actually judging.
What I do get to see is how the judges actually judge. What they like and what doesn't appeal.

Portraits taken while people are travelling are always popular with the photographer. But so many are passive. To appeal to the judge the subject needs to be actively engaged. Through the eyes, through body language.