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Record photo contest winners

Winner: Jerry Potter, Keene, Tex. | July 2006 nominee

See the runners-up | See all of the 2005-2006 photo nominees

Southwestern Adventist University student Jerrod Songy reenacts Christ’s suffering as he carries the cross during the Keene church’s resurrection pageant.

Southwestern Adventist University student Jerrod Songy reenacts Christ’s suffering as he carries the cross during the Keene church’s resurrection pageant.

July 2006 nominee

Story: The greatest story ever told

Photographer: Jerry Potter

This month’s nominee catches a moment in the Keene church’s resurrection pageant where an actor portrays Jesus’ struggle at the cross. This is a great photo because the lighting is good, it has a definite focal point, and it clearly portrays what is happening in the story. The fact that the subject of the photo is so recognizable only adds to its appeal.

The votes have been tallied, and the winner of our Photo of the Year contest is Jerry Potter's picture of Jesus from the Keene, Tex., church's resurrection pageant. This photo originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of the Record.

What makes this photo great

There's a clear focal point. One of the most important features of a good photo is a clear focal point. It is important that when a viewer looks at a photo, his or her eyes know where to look first. This makes it easier for the photo to draw the viewer into the photo, which in turn helps to draw a reader into the story.

Viewers can relate to the photo. The iconic nature of the subject in this photo adds a level of familiarity for our readers. People find that they can relate to the photo. It's just like looking at a photo of a close friend—in fact, for our readers, that's exactly what it is: a photo of a close friend.

It has good lighting. All of these features would be lost, however, were it not for good lighting. Good lighting not only allows the exposure to be crisp and sharp, but it also creates the dynamics of lighting and shadow contrast that are present in good photos, ensuring that the photo looks three-dimensional. If a picture is mostly dark or mostly light, it can appear very bland, because our eyes are naturally drawn to contrast. That's why good lighting is so important.

The photo illustrates the story. A reader simply needs to look at the picture and read the headline, "The greatest story ever told," to understand that the article is about some sort of reenactment of Jesus' crucifixion. It also makes the reader feel like he or she was there when the event was taking place. Good photos bring a story to life by giving the reader a visual impression of what they are reading about, instead of expecting them to create their own visualization.

How to take great photos

Use your feet. Often the difference between a poor photo and a great photo is how you use your feet. Get up close to capture the emotion on your subject's face just as Carmen Castro and Julie Gonzales did in their photos in the runners-up section below. Move around until you find the angle that makes for the best composition. Tammy Jones found an effective angle for capturing the kids in their sack race (see below).

Have a focal point. Most of the time you want a clear focal point so that a viewer knows where to look first. There are exceptions (such as Tammy Jones' photo - see runners-up section) where this is not necessary, but keep this in mind as a general rule.

Capture the action. It is infinitely better to get a picture of an event as it is happening (see Henrique Gomes' photo - in the runners-up section), or of the participants at the event (see Carmen Castro's photo - in the runners-up section), than to line up the participants for a group shot later.

Have good lighting. In photography, lighting means everything. It's important to have a good quality camera that you know how to use, since cameras have the power to adjust for bad lighting. You can always try to get up close to your subject and use your flash when the setting is dim.

Know the technical side of digital images. Photos for print publication should be taken at the highest resolution available on your digital camera. You can't go back and add pixels later by resizing your image.

Runners-up

Myra Damas, Rosalia Varjas, and Majuel Martinez smile with happiness as they come from their baptisms in the Vandervroot River.

Myra Damas, Rosalia Varjas, and Majuel Martinez smile with happiness as they come from their baptisms in the Vandervroot River.

February 2006 nominee

Story: Reaching the unreached

Photographer: Carmen Castro

The smiling, newly-baptized woman makes an excellent focal point for the photo. Setting the subject off-center adds artistic merit to the photo. The background adds a lot to the picture. Not only are there other newly-baptized individuals in colorful blue robes, but the pristine river with bright green foliage is a feast for the eyes.

Students from the San Antonio/Hill Country area schools participated in a joint field day that included, among others things, potato sack races.

Students from the San Antonio/Hill Country area schools participated in a joint field day that included, among others things, potato sack races.

August 2006 nominee

Story: Students meet for joint field day

Photographer: Tammy Jones

This month's photo captures the excitement of the moment at an outdoor event. The exposure is good, allowing the colors to shine and keeping the picture sharp. Sufficient lighting and film speed or light sensitivity setting are crucial to getting a good photo of action such as this. And smiling kids having fun is always a formula for success.

Pastor Marshall Gonzales embraces a satisfied Uziel Lopez after Uziel’s baptism at the San Antonio Spanish Durango church.

Pastor Marshall Gonzales embraces a satisfied Uziel Lopez after Uziel’s baptism at the San Antonio Spanish Durango church.

September 2006 nominee

Story: Terminally ill nine-year-old is baptized

Photographer: Julie Gonzales

One of the most amazing things a photographer can do is to capture the emotion of the moment. It is difficult to translate the emotion and feeling of an important event to a photo in a way that will convey that feeling to the reader. In this case, all the reader has to do is read the headline of the story and look at the picture and they too will be caught up in the emotion of the moment.

Students race around a go-cart track during one of Cricket Camp’s excursions.

Students race around a go-cart track during one of Cricket Camp’s excursions.

October 2006 nominee

Story: Freshmen get to know one another better at Cricket Camp

Photographer: Henrique Gomes

This image is very colorful and exciting. But what makes this photograph truly special is how the photographer managed to capture his subjects (the people in the picture) in sharp focus, while maintaining the motion blur all around them. This succeeds in giving the reader that feeling of fast movement without sacrificing the clarity of the people's faces.


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