Aussie Photo Adventures

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24/06/2021 0

Here we go, the obligatory drone shot. Not even a good one at that. So why am I posting this shot? Well… to remind me […]



This rant is inspired by lame advice distributed by a stock picture library earlier today. It told us to research the latest trends in food photography and submit similar images to be successful.

That approach will only get you noticed by two-dimensional art buyers/directors at best. But, apply that approach to your competition photography, and you are will to be the photographer who inhabits the also ran region of the competition.

The trick is to stand out from the pack. It would be best if you researched what has gone before. Never enter images similar to last years or last weeks winners. I guarantee, if you do, you will not be a winner. Just as supplying copycat food images to a stock agency is guaranteed NOT to bring you big dollar sales.

This comes from a photographer who hasn’t won a single prize in a photography competition for 20 years. As it turns out, I haven’t entered one for that long either.

However, as a young photographer starting out, competitions largely kept me supplied with film, and to an extent, equipment. You see, as a 16-year-old, most of my free time was consumed by photography and the pursuit of competition prize money or product.

Without wanting to brag, I was pretty successful. I didn’t enter competitions for kids because the money was in adult comps. Some of these were in Australia, but most were international. Later, after turning professional, I transitioned to competitions for working photographers. Now chasing, not so much the money, but the street creds:)

Here is what I learned from competing. Firstly the stuff you learn is far more valuable than any prize. Secondly, doing what everyone else is doing will, without a dought, achieve nothing. Your work has to stand out. The easiest way to do this is to be different.

New and fresh is the term used most often. But here’s the catch. If you’re too far out there, you will also be disappointed. For example, Robyn and I crafted a semi-nude image of a woman for a national award. We were delighted with it and expected to do well. Disappointment followed. The judging panel marked the print harshly.

A couple of days later, a hugely successful and award-winning American photographer offered some advice at the awards dinner. It went like this. “Ian, your print should have been right up there with the winners. But do you know why it wasn’t?” Errr NO. “Well, I’ll tell you. You’re operating on the bleeding edge of competition photography; the only thing that happens on the bleeding edge is a lot of pain. So please take a look at the winners; understand where they’re at. And next year, try and work out where the judging panel will be compared to this year. Aim to be just ahead of the judge’s expectations, not miles ahead.”

That advice was some of the best I’ve ever received from anyone in photography. We worked hard and were very conscious of not being too creative for the following year.

That was the start of ten years of very successful competition for us. Oh, and as a footnote, the next year, three entries looked a whole lot like our unsuccessful bare-breasted women from the previous year. All three scored very highly.

So, to summarise, be different from your competition, but don’t get too far ahead or you’ll lose the judges. If you copy everyone else, disappointment will follow.


This is a great place to start.

The Australian Copyright Council.


Friday Foto Tips Tricks and Tutorials


If you haven’t already guessed, state borders will be “slammed shut” in an instant if  new outbreaks of Covid occur.

Certainly not the news I’d been waiting for:) But, then again, this isn’t news that we hadn’t expected.


Photo by Steve Johnson/upsplash

Ok, so I have my grumpy hat on today. And, I don’t mean to be offensive to our LBGTQ community or our ethnically diverse population. But today, I received an email note from one of our agencies.

It started G’day Ian, that tells me they are trying to convince me they are like me, an Ozzie. Then it proceeds to tell me that my submissions are not inclusive enough, and I must try to make future submissions more inclusive to the LBGTQ community by including more people from that community in my photos. But, it doesn’t stop there. It further informed me that my pictures lack people of colour, and BLM is very important in our marketing currently.

To be very clear, I’m not against any of the above, but please no that my pictures for this mob are almost exclusively devoid of humanity because my speciality with them is the environment. Secondly, when I visit their member’s resource site to see examples of what they mean, there are dozens of pictures of people displaying the pride flag and dressed in rainbow clothing.
But like the TV advertising, that’s not all folks. You also get pages of pictures of ethnically diverse people. People of colour, or more specifically, African Americans, missing are all the other shades of colour. For example, there are zero Asians and indeed no black Africans, for example, Congolese people.
My beef is, we seem to exclude a whole lot of humanity in our rush to be… what’s the term, woke.



We have an explanation HERE.

Coming soon

This space bought to you by Ian, as he is too lazy to produce the content on time to fill said space:)

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Excitations Photo Adventures, photography instructor, Ian Mckenzie

Learn a little more about our chief instructor, Ian McKenzie. That's the old bloke above, we have a Q&A session with him. Just click on the picture.

There is a reason for the blank screen on the above video. You're just going to have to press play to find out.Friday Foto Tips


It is with mixed feelings that I read of the passing of the AIPP. An organisation set up 75 years ago to assist professional photographers with their continuing education and give those same photographers a united front to communicate with government policy makers. Whether the Australian Institute of Professional Photography achieved its goals will depend on who you talk to and during what period they were members of the organisation.
For me, as a member during the late 1980s and early 90s, it was an excellent window to learn. Opportunities to mix with Australia's leading shooters, along with many of the worlds great photographers, partly sponsored by the AIPP, is something I'll be forever grateful.

While we worked hard at building our credibility within the photographic community and edging our way towards the somewhat elusive title of Master Photographer, several things seemed a little off. However, now is not the time to discuss those suspicions.

I will say, though, politics is a dirty business. And, I'm convinced many decisions made during the time of my membership were not for the benefit of rank and file members, who I believed then and still do, were nothing more than cash-cows.

The demise of the AIPP didn't surprise me. The industry worldwide has been decimated, and photographers rights have all but vanished. So what is the term divide and conquer? Working photographers have, for as long as I've been in the industry, been easily divided. So much so that now we have no voice at all in any decisions that will ultimately affect our ability to survive financially.

Just sayin…….