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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tips to get ahead of the pack

A shot of a Phnom Penh barber interpreting the theme ‘Expressions of Phnom Penh’ won second prize in the open category last year. Arik S Mintorogo
A shot of a Phnom Penh barber interpreting the theme ‘Expressions of Phnom Penh’ won second prize in the open category last year. Arik S Mintorogo

Tips to get ahead of the pack

With more than 800 snappers registered to take part in tomorrow’s Canon PhotoMarathon, competition for the top prizes is going to be fierce. Post Weekend, which is a media partner for the event, this week asked the three judges of the open categories for some tips and advice for the participants.

Jessica Lim is the Asia Coordinator of the annual Angkor Photo Festival and Workshops. She has a background in photojournalism and also worked as the photo editor at the Drik Photo Agency.

What do you think makes a good photo? 
A good photo is something that people remember because they are moved by it or because the photo is communicating something they relate to and appreciate.

What’s the most important thing people should keep in mind when they go out to take their photos?
I think it’s important for people to have fun. I know it’s a competition and there are prizes, but most creativity comes when people are relaxed and enjoying themselves and not too stressed about winning.

What criteria will you use to judge the entries? 
When you’re looking at hundreds of photos, really the ones that stand out are the ones that are original and unique. After that, I’d look at the technical aspects like composition and then how well the photographer has incorporated the theme.

Does it matter how good their camera is?
No, I don’t think it matters at all. The judges have a lot of experience and can tell what photos are taken with special lenses or whatever.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Where should people look for good photo opportunities?
I can say where they shouldn’t go. I have noticed – this is my third or fourth time judging a PhotoMarathon – that every year we get a lot of photos from the same places. We tend to see a lot of the same landmarks. They’re really beautiful but it’s better to be original.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring photographers looking to follow in your footsteps professionally?
Photography is not just a profession. It should be part of you, not just a job. That’s a way that you’ll be able to find your own unique voice and be heard. Don’t follow in anyone else’s footsteps. Make your own way.

Award-winning photographer Scott Howes is the photo editor at The Phnom Penh Post. In the past Howes has worked as a freelance photographer in Australia and Asia, with photos appearing in The Guardian, South China Morning Post, Sydney Morning Herald and other publications.

What do you think makes a good photo? 
A good photo captures something that words can’t describe, a decisive moment that video doesn’t do justice to. It captures the imagination and tells a story. It makes a statement and creates a dialogue between the photo and the viewer.

What criteria will you use to judge the entries?
My criteria for judging photos will be: the idea behind the image, the story or meaning, content, composition and technical proficiency. In that order. Colour, contrast, geometry, patterns and simplicity are all things that make an instant impact. Photos that exhibit one or more of these generally catch my eye before anything else.

Does it matter how good their camera is?
Not at all, as long as the camera is good for you. The best camera you can have is the one with you.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

What’s the most important thing people should keep in mind when they go out to take their photos?
People should look at ways they can tell a story with their photos, a way of relating to others and finding a deeper meaning that people can relate too. They should put thought into why they are taking a photo and what they want it to mean. After working out the purpose of the photo, the person should think about composition and aesthetics. After you have worked out these things you can start to think about the camera setting required to capture the image in the way you visualised it.

Where should people look for good photo opportunities?
You can find great photo opportunities everywhere. They are all around us. Often people overlook scenes that occur around them in everyday life. Ants waging war against geckos, a child experiencing rain for the first time, the dim glow on a person’s face as they cook over a barbecue, the only old building in a street of new buildings...

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring photographers looking to follow in your footsteps professionally?
Practise. Continually shooting and always reviewing your work and comparing it against your peers and idols will sharpen every part of your photography.

Thai “Jerry” Vantha is the founder of @homePhotography, one of Cambodia’s premier photographic studios, as well as a lecturer at the Canon Imaging Academy and the lead photographer for both Cambodia Tourism Magazine and LisWedding Magazine.

What do you think makes a good photo? 
For the purposes of this competition, I think as long as the photo correctly addresses the theme then it’s a good photo.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

 
What criteria will you use to judge the entries? 
We have three steps to filter through the photos. The first is the photo’s relation to the theme. Any photo that says something about the topic can be moved to the next step. Then we look into meaning. Some have more meaning than others. Finally, we look at the technical aspects of the photo. Some address the theme and have good meaning but are not technically high quality. When it gets close, we’ll start to judge them on things like use of exposure, control of the lens, composition and focus.

Does it matter how good their camera is?
Whatever camera you have, it will not give a good meaning to a photo. It’s the person who creates the meaning in the photo, so the camera is not so important. The camera only gives them extra ability to capture things that a smaller camera cannot capture. For example, sometimes the conditions are too dark for some equipment. A better camera gives an advantage in those situations. But in general, the camera is not so important.

What’s the most important thing people should keep in mind when they go out to take their photos?
First they need to think, give themselves a bit of time before they go out. Most of the time they see the topic and they go out as a group without thinking deeply about the topic itself. This is the one big mistake I see all the time. Then, as a group, they talk about the idea so the group all have the same idea and the photos come out the same, so mostly the photos are removed because the idea is not original.

Where should people look for good photo opportunities?
They should think about the topic and then think where a lot of activity about that topic takes place. If the topic is daily life, they might think about the market or a small village with a lot of small people doing their jobs.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring photographers looking to follow in your footsteps professionally?
Photography has limitless possibilities. Whatever they want to be professionally, photographers should always keep learning and keep doing. On top of that, they should keep sharing their knowledge and experience to new people. If they keep sharing, it will inspire them to keep developing professionally.

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