Win like a pro: How to score big in the Sunday Times Wilderness Photograph of the Year competition

07 June 2016 - 02:00 By Staff reporter
Category finalist: Wildlife Behaviour - A praying mantis cannibalising another, taken at Clover Rose Nursery in Charlo, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Category finalist: Wildlife Behaviour - A praying mantis cannibalising another, taken at Clover Rose Nursery in Charlo, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Image: Etienne Stassen

1) Read the rules:

Read them again. We must often choose between a good image that follows the rules, and a good image that doesn’t. When faced with deadline pressures, we’ll choose the shot that abides by the rules. An example of a good, rule-abiding image is one that is at least 2,500 megapixels on the longest side, 300dpi (dots per inch), includes a detailed caption and zero watermarks. In other words, entries must be publication-ready. Oh yes … have you read the rules? Check them out here before you enter your photos online.


2) Be original:

There’s no artist more original than nature, so let your work reflect that! A leopard sleeping on a branch or a close-up of a wrinkly elephant eye will never be dull if you put a clever spin on it. (But please don’t send us another wrinkly elephant eye – unless the reflection in the iris tells an amazing story.) We have seen more than 22,000 images in the Sunday Times nature and travel photography competitions – originality will help yours stand out!


3) Think art, not holiday snapshots:

We reward world-class quality. Check out our photo galleries to study the standard of winning images in this competition – and to gain an idea of what you’re up against!


4) Don’t ever be intimidated!

Amateur photographers have done just as well in this competition as professional lens people. We can’t reward your image if we haven’t seen it, so make sure you enter now.


5) Remember to enter plants and landscapes:

Don’t feel you must enter high-drama, wildlife photos only. We are consciously keeping an eye out for memorable interpretations of Africa’s profound landscapes and beautiful flora – and we see every image that comes in!


6) Don’t forget about our Endangered Africa category:

The Sunday Times Wilderness Photograph of the Year is South Africa’s biggest platform for photographers to raise awareness of Africa’s rare but threatened heritage, and everything that is stunning about it. When entering a photo into our Wildlife Behaviour category, ask yourself if it could also work in our Endangered Africa category. If we choose your shot, we’ll publish it in the print and online editions of the Sunday Times, exposing your cause to millions of eyeballs across the country and world wild web.


7) Look sharp:

The first thing we judges think when we get a great shot is, “Wow! But will it be sharp when we zoom in?” No matter which way you cut it, a fuzzy image – unless this is an intentional part of the message – will never stand out from the pack. 


8) Say something interesting:

Beautiful, tight-focus portraiture is far less important than your photo’s message.


9) Be ultra observant:

When judge & pro wildlife photographer Grant Atkinson is in the field, he keeps his camera pointed at the original subject, but also looks over the top of his camera. “It’s all too easy to get so drawn into a scene that I might miss something else that makes a worthwhile shot.”


10) Go global:

South African residents and citizens living across the world can enter. Our Endangered Africa category allows photos from Africa, while our Wildlife Behaviour category allows wild animal photos captured anywhere on Earth – from the North Pole to the Great Outback. 


11) Keep trying!

You can enter up to 10 shots per each of our two categories – Endangered Africa and Wildlife Behaviour – every month between May and November. So you have 140 shots at winning the coveted ‘Sunday Times Wilderness Photograph of the Year’ and monthly titles, and R600,000 in safaris, cameras and cash from Sunday Times Travel, Canon and Wilderness Safaris.


Enter online today or e-mail us your high-res shots. Good luck … we want to see your work!