The 2018 Best of the Best Destination Photo Contest – Interview with the Judges

Photo by Carey Nash

If you travel with your couples to exciting locales, then the Best of the Best Destination photo contest, which opened for submissions last week, is for you. This year, we’re excited to be working alongside guest judges Carey Nash, Jane Iskra of ISKRA Photography, and Mark Pacura in order to curate a stunning collection of 50 images that celebrate love all around the world. Before you submit, be sure to check out today’s interview with the judges to learn exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to submissions, their advice on booking destination clients, and more!

Photo by Jane Iskra of ISKRA Photography

What makes a great photograph?

Mark Pacura: There are obvious technical aspects, of course – light, composition, etc., have to be perfect and they’re really important. I always try to look at images from my clients’ point of view. Regardless of what I think about the image and how many likes it got on Instagram, a great photograph for me is the one that exceeds my clients’ expectations. It makes them cry, it makes them laugh, they love it so much that they print it in a large format and hang it above the fireplace. I think that in a world of social media, while we all try to outdo each other with something even more dramatic, we sometimes tend to forget that, at the end of the day, it’s not about us, but the people we photograph.

Carey Nash: In my opinion, the interpersonal connection will always be the strongest feature in a great image. If an image is technically flawed it still has power if emotion and a story are present.

Jane Iskra: The great photo is like a delicious cherry pie which should contain all the ingredients. In addition to some evident basics like great composition, light or colors, for me, a great photograph pops out when it communicates via emotions, sympathy, or when it tells a story.

Photo by Mark Pacura

What makes a destination “stunning” to you?

Mark Pacura: It’s no secret that I get much more excited about big open landscapes than busy city streets. I love unexplored places, which are becoming hard to find. When photographing couples in vast open areas I try to show them in a minimalistic way – less is more. The most important thing – it needs to feel authentic. I know I’m in a beautiful place when the first thing that comes to my mind is that I wish my loved ones were there with me to see it.

Carey Nash: A stunning image is one that truly reflects the environment, the people, the culture and the landscape while including the couple. I am always impressed when the light is used properly and draws the focus where we want it.

Jane Iskra: It’s not a secret, that I’m much more a nature person than a big city fan. So I’m much more impressed by wildlife, landscapes or natural miracles. But when the light is awesome, then it can change the whole game.

Photo by Carey Nash

Describe the imagery you’re hoping to see when reviewing submissions?

Mark Pacura: I’m hoping for some surprises for sure. New ways of showing the old, sometimes overused locations, and the new places that most of us haven’t heard of. I’d like to see images where the photographer puts himself/herself in the client’s shoes, and I will be able to see the connection between people and places. A key factor for me is that I want to be sure that the winning image (hopefully every entry) was taken with the respect for our beautiful planet.

Carey Nash: I’m hoping to see something fresh and unique and destinations that may be more intimate and remote. Those real and unexpected moments where the couple really has that connection.

Jane Iskra: I really want to see great pictures with some new approach. I’m expecting to see not only some epic landscapes and places, but want to feel the connection between the couple, their emotions, and their love.

Photo by Jane Iskra of ISKRA Photography

What advice do you have for photographers who are submitting their work for the first time?

Mark Pacura: Do it. Taking part in photography contests is a great way to learn.

Carey Nash: With so many amazing and talented photographers submitting images I always consider submitting images that stand out of course. With that being said I recommend subtle post-processing and images that showcase both the destination and the couple equally.

Jane Iskra: First of all – don’t give up from the very beginning, thinking you have too few beautiful pictures! I’m sure everyone has great images! You just need to pick wisely. This is probably the hardest and best way to grow. Doing this and not finding some pictures not fitting the contest just shows that you’ve found your weak spots which you need to work harder at.

Photo by Carey Nash

What advice do you have for photographers interested in booking more destination clients?

Mark Pacura: Lots of it. Personal travel, networking, blogging, going to workshops – it’s an extremely competitive market, and nothing will happen without hard work and hustle. Traveling the world to photograph people is an amazing job, but it’s not always easy and starts with the local market. If you don’t enjoy shooting local weddings then going overseas might not always be a solution – the grass is not always greener on the other side. Realise that people are much more important than the location and you’ll have fun everywhere.

Carey Nash: Make sure your portfolio reflects that you are interested and excited to be a part of their wedding. Be prepared to make considerations as destination weddings are typically less traditional and ultimately make it about them and their experience. My first few destination weddings were done while I was traveling independently and my social media reflected that I was abroad. This opened up the conversation and planted the seed.

Jane Iskra: Work on SEO, social, and show your work at such awesome international blogs like Junebug Weddings, where you can be found by the brides from all over the world.

Photo by Jane Iskra of ISKRA Photography

Any other advice?

Mark Pacura: Don’t overthink it, don’t look at trends to see what’s popular at the moment, just submit the work you love the most.

Carey Nash: A cliff top, a high vista, a famous landmark, although stunning may not be unique. Sometimes, the simplest shot is the best if it truly has emotion and character.

Jane Iskra: Don’t hesitate to submit pictures with your unique vision or experiments, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m expecting something new and fresh. Or just send pictures which you love are are proud of, because even if you won’t win something (because of strong competition), you will still be yourself and won’t regret your decision.

Photo by Mark Pacura

Big thanks to our judges for sharing their insight.

Are you ready to embrace adventure with us this summer? Submit your best destination work from the past year today!

The 2018 Best of the Best Destination Photo Contest is sponsored by Wooden Banana, a supplier of high-quality wooden boxes, wooden thank you cards, memory sticks, and albums. Wooden Banana offers a wide variety of packaging options from bulk order to their all-inclusive service. Visit the Wooden Banana store for more information!

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