What Makes an Award Winning Photographer?

Professional photographers and shutterbugs alike all strive to snap that enigmatic award-winning photograph. It is enigmatic because like any art, the impact and influence can never be planned. In short, there is no contrivance…it is a completely natural and spontaneous endeavor that nonetheless relies on skill, technical ability and talent. That is why it is so rare that the amateur photographer takes an award-winning photo. But it has happened.

One of the most famous accounts of an amateur snapping an award winning shot was at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City when an American athlete name Bob Beamon smashed the record in the long jump by almost two feet. The photo was the only one that was taken that day and it went on to win numerous awards and was features in some of the world’s most famous magazines, such as Sports Illustrated.

So, what makes award winning photographer? In this article we are going to discuss a few of the things that make a prize winning photo. But because photography is an art, it is important to note, before we proceed, that there is no magic formula and that most of factors are directly related to subjective opinions mingled with technical ability.

Though it is probably the most subjective of the elements that go into making a great photo, since different images inevitably speak to viewers in different ways, it is nonetheless essential. We could actually reword this category as most memorable. And when we think of the most memorable or even iconic photographs that we have seen, they tend to resonate for a myriad of reason. Often they are shocking, uplifting, or they capture a special moment in time so perfectly that they leave us speechless or rather they require no speech, no explanation. For as they say in the clique, a picture is worth a thousand words, and great ones are likely worth a lot more than that.

Again, this is a highly subjective element, but there is no denying that it plays an important part in photography. After all, the art form has been around for well over a century now and there are few things audiences have not seen. But it takes a special vision, coupled of course with remarkable technical ability, to capture images that leave us shocked or wowed or simply scratching our collective heads.’

Technical Ability
As we mentioned earlier, it is no coincidence that so few amateur photographers have captured award-winning shots. This is due almost entirely to the one factor that is not subjective, technical ability. How is this measured? Again, this is difficult to explain to the layman, except to say that a professional can spot the work of another pro when he sees it. Like any other artist, a photographer must concentrate on more than just his vision he must also pay close attention to his instrument, in this case a camera. Factors such as exposure, sharpness, mounting, color and print quality are the basics.


Again, this is a subjective element, but still it is one of the most respected and prized talents or abilities to find in a professional photographer. You see, most photographers are mere observers. But every once and a while a talented photographer comes along who can capture more than just a moment in time, he can record the whole story in a single shot. This is a truly rare gift and this element alone is probably responsible for more award-winning photos than all of the others combined.