2014 Competitions

‘A Fresh Eye’ – Photography Competition for Schools and Young People

aber1Organised in conjunction with The Eye International Photography Festival by Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Oxfam Cymru
The Eye International Photography Festival brings together leading UK and international photographers for a weekend of talks, discussions, interviews and exhibitions to examine and celebrate photography. As a new development for 2014 we are including a competition for schools and young people.

This April, schools and young people across Wales have the opportunity to take part in a national photography competition. The Festival has teamed up with Oxfam Cymru to offer a unique opportunity for students to develop their skills and understanding of photography and international issues.

With thanks to Camera Centre, Cardiff Store, Morgan Arcade, Cardiff 02920 394 182 oxfam

The Competition

There are three categories – 7–11 year olds, 12–15 year olds and another for older students aged 16–21. The closing date is Midday, Friday 23rd May 2014. Please scroll down for futher information about the competition and application form.

There will be prizes as well as festival tickets for winners and runners up. All shortlisted entries will be exhibited at Aberystwyth Arts Centre as part of the Festival from 4th June – 19th July, and the winners will be announced during the Festival. As the festival attracts renowned international photographers, this is a truly wonderful opportunity for any young people with an interest in photography.


  • For under 11s and 12 – 15year olds: Water through a different lens. Water is essential in our daily lives. From the waves to the watering can, so many aspects of our lives depend on water. But what if water is not under our control? Water is a basic human right but clean, safe water is not within everyone’s reach. Here in Wales, and even more so across the world, people are feeling the effects of increasingly unpredictable weather such as floods and droughts. This competition is an opportunity for young people to learn about global water issues and to take photos inspired by their learning. Oxfam Water Week resources are available for schools and participants to do some background research and learning prior to taking photos at this link.
  • For 16 – 21 year olds: Lift: An uplifting look at tackling poverty. Oxfam believes in the power of people against poverty – that people in the developing world have the potential to change their own lives. All they need is a little lift. A lift can empower people to make change, helping them to alter the course of their lives, so in turn they can lift others around them, setting in motion a process of change that spreads throughout the community. This experimental theme encourages participants to challenge the traditional and hopeless images of people in poverty, and instead to bring a positive perspective of fighting poverty to life through their images. Resources and background information about this topic are available here.

Judging Criteria

The winners will be decided on the aesthetic quality of the image and how well the theme has been addressed.

Eye Festival Director, and renowned documentary photographer Glenn Edwards has put together these tips to help you.

Top 11 Tips to Improve Your Photography: Glenn Edwards, March 2014

1. Most photographs are taken in seconds and just one frame used with no thought given. Stand there – SNAP. Take your time and think. Take more than one photograph to ensure, for example, the person you are taking isn’t blinking when you see the photograph later, or when taking action pictures by taking more the chances are you will capture the movement and moment better.

2. There is a very famous saying ‘if your picture is not good enough, you are not close enough ‘. Fill your frame with the information you need by moving closer and discard the irrelevant by cropping it out of the frame when taking the photograph.

3. Be mindful of the light on your subject. Beware of shadows on people’s faces. Where possible move yourself to a different angle or move the subject to where the lighting is more favorable or visit a landscape at a different time of day. If this is not possible, learn to use your flash outdoors to light your subject in difficult situations and also be more creative.

4. If you want to be serious about your photography always buy the best camera you can afford. The problem with equipment from the cheaper ranges is the time lag between you seeing and pressing the shutter to when the picture is actually taken by the camera. That small delay is usually the difference between a good photograph and a bad photograph. Try to spend a little more on your camera to ensure the seeing and taking is instant and you get the picture you want when you press the shutter.

5. Beware the lamppost sticking out of the head, or messy and cluttered backgrounds. The background can be as important as the subject so take care and be aware of what is behind your subject.

6. When framing take your subject away from the centre of the picture. Place it one third across or down and the composition will automatically improve. Be bold and try different angles and positions and be more creative in your taking

7. Don’t be afraid to turn your camera the other way. Most photographs are taken in the horizontal or landscape position but by turning your camera upright or in the portrait position you can both fill your frame with what is important and give the picture a new perspective.

8. With auto focus there should be no excuse for blurred photographs yet when you see your pictures later they still occur. Focus very carefully.

9. Take time to learn what your camera can do. Learn about apertures and depth of field, learn about what speed to set for still and moving subjects and learn how to get the correct exposure every time. Knowing your camera can also mean capturing or missing a moment as when the camera becomes a part of you, you can react, frame and take the picture in an instant.

10. Be more selective in editing and showing your photographs. By showing all of them you are devaluing your best shots so take out the bad and less interesting photographs and only show your best work.

11. Show Dignity – Images chosen must show consideration and respect for the person being photographed. Think about how your image portrays a person – is it as a ‘victim’ or ‘helpless,’? images like this can show a lack of respect and an affront to human dignity.

For some good examples Artists 2012 and Artists 2014 and Exhibitions 2012 and Exhibitions 2014 pages.

What are we looking for:

The beauty of photography is what one person likes another doesn’t but generally good photographs stand out and get noticed.
But what makes a good photograph?

  • The first thing we will be looking for is answering the brief. This is very important. You have been given subjects to photograph and you really have to think how to express yourselves within the confines of the brief. E.g. Water and L.I.F.T.
  • In photographing your subject you will be capturing information to tell a story. Try to give the viewer a story in your photograph so think about what you are trying say in the picture. E.g. the power, the beauty, the need for water etc.
  • Be daring in your approach. There is a famous saying ‘If your picture is not good enough, you are not close enough‘. Fill your frame.
  • WE need to see that you have taken care and explored the situation you are photographing e.g. good composition, good lighting, subject matter and illustrating the brief in a creative and interesting way. Be as creative as you feel, have fun and enjoy.
  • And remember – please be aware of health and safety – never put yourself or anyone you’re photographing at risk just to get a good photograph.


Under 11s

  1. Complimentary Tickets to the Eye Festival and a copy of the book ‘Africa against all Odds’ to all 3 ‘Highly Commended’ photographers in this category
  2. Camera to overall winner (selected from the three Highly commended entrants) plus a signed copy of a book from one of the Internationally Acclaimed photographers at the Festival
  3. For the school from which the winning pupil comes from – an all day workshop with Oxfam Cymru educational advisor and Documentary Photographer Glenn Edwards


  1. Complimentary Tickets to the Eye Festival and a copy of the book ‘Africa against all Odds’ to all 3 ‘Highly Commended’ photographers in this category
  2. Camera to overall winner
  3. For the school from which the winning pupil comes from – an all day workshop with Oxfam Cymru educational advisor and Glenn Edwards


  1. Tickets to the Eye Festival and a copy of the book ‘Africa against all Odds’ to all 3 shortlisted photographers in this category
  2. Camera for winner
  3. Tutorial with Independent photo editor Sophie Batterbury
  4. Lunch with some of the photographers during the festival

Please Note: Festival Tickets do not include accommodation. All prizes are non-transferable. The Judges Decision is Final

How to Apply:

Closing date: 12 noon, Friday 23rd May

All entries must be submitted electronically by filling in an on-line submission form on the Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s web-site.

Images must address the competition themes

Entries are limited to 3 images per person / student -by taking part you agree with our terms and conditions– please read them carefully before applying.