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Monthly Photo Themes for 2014

Monthly Photo Themes for 2014

Photography is an art form reflecting your creative interpretation of a selected subject. Reproductions of paintings, other's artwork or photographs and mere record photos (snapshots!) of monuments, sculptures, and buildings are discouraged for presentation at the Gainesville Photography Club. Keep them for your personal files and show us your very best.

January Places July Photojournalism
February Still Life/Objects August People
March Nature September Nature
April Interior Spaces October B&W Landscapes
May Abstract Subjects November Contemporary
June Whimsy/Humorous December End-of-Year Slide show

General Guidelines:

  • Photographs of People, Places and Nature must depict subjects with good fidelity to reality.
  • Post-camera changes may subtly enhance a photograph optimizing fidelity but not add to it.
  • Cropping, removal of minor unwanted elements, removal of color cast, highlight and contrast control and subtle use of digital effects (like sharpening, gradients, contrast masks, black & white filtering, etc.) are acceptable enhancements.
  • Images that have been shown previously are no longer eligible for submission.

Theme Descriptions:

Theme assignments are designed to move you out of your comfort zone to try something new.  Most themes are selected to be relatively easy.  A few are more challenging and may require special equipment or computer software. Professional photographers face challenges almost daily so it is not unreasonable for advanced amateurs to be challenged only once a month. Ideally, members should bring contest quality theme photos to club meetings, but quality is less important than demonstrating you have made the effort to take on the challenge of the monthly themes.

The following themes carry forward year-to-year:

Contemporary: These photographs might be called Digital Art. They represent a deliberate alteration of reality; it does not mean subjects of our era. They may be achieved using one or more camera attachments such as special filters, fisheye lenses, creative use of flash or zoom lenses, black light, distorted reflections, and long exposures. They are often derived from original images using one or more processes such as bas relief, posterization, solarization, or other forms of darkroom or digital manipulation. Some original photographs such as abstracts, infrared, and multiple-exposures (not panoramas) may also qualify. Almost anything qualifies if it artistically distorts reality but is not an error in technique.

Nature: A depiction drawn from any branch of natural history, these photographs should tell a nature story. As such, this theme includes landscapes, plants, and animals. Photographs should depict subjects with high fidelity to reality and near to total absence of human influence (including fences, power lines, roads, signs, footprints, trash, etc.). However, it is acceptable to "house clean" the subject area. While animal portraits can be very interesting, the best animal pictures show typical behaviors and interactions. The best plant photos result from using equipment creatively and are often taken from unexpected viewpoints. Lighting is most important to capturing the colors and textures of outstanding landscapes. Garden or zoo photographs are acceptable if the plants or animals would normally be found in the wild. Images of cultivated plants, domestic animals, still life, or stuffed or mounted specimens are inappropriate. NOTE: Because photographers take so many Nature pictures, we will offer this theme twice a year.

People: Photographs that do more than simply record what a person looks like. They should reveal what is special about a person, or perhaps provide clues to what they are feeling. They should convey information about their character or the essence of their personality. They could be anything from intimate facial close-ups to full length images of from one to several people interacting. Environmental portraits are made in or near the subject's neighborhood -- their home, workplace, on the street, or where they play. Placing relevant objects from the environment in the composition relates information about the subject to the viewer. The photographer may be inconspicuous when taking these pictures to avoid outside influence. Whether formal or informal, the best People photographs tell a story and have an emotional impact on the viewer – no snapshots of old Aunt Myrtle sitting by the pool please. This definition applies equally to children and adults.

Places: The best photographs of places strongly convey the character of a place; its particular location and culture giving the viewer a sense of place. This is not simply a matter of including some recognizable feature. The photographer should be aware of experiencing unusual lighting, and unfamiliar sights, smells and sounds. Photographs should try to capture this heightened awareness. Be receptive to the mood of a place and your own feelings about it. Look for a telling image or an evocative effect of light that expresses how you feel.

End-of-Year Slideshow: Select your best pictures of 2014 or create a theme-based slideshow. If necessary, add others to your year's best photos. Include music background in your slideshow, music and narration, or just narration. You need not buy special software. Windows has Movie Maker 2 built in or download a free copy of Microsoft's Photo Story 3. Photo Story is easier to use but Movie Maker has 2 audio tracks and flexible timeline. Please respect others by limiting your slideshow to about 6 minutes or less. If you include music in your show, plan on 6 seconds per photo or no more than 60 photos. If you include narration in your show, plan on 12 seconds per photo or no more than 30 photos. Then, we can finish all slideshows in about a 90 minute time frame.

2014 Themes that will not carry forward

Abstract Subjects:  In abstract photography subject tends to come second to the observance of patterns, textures, angles, proximity (closeness and distance from the subject), crop (especially of segments or parts of the whole), color variation, tonal variation, shape, form, curves, geometry, and focus and depth of field. Normally the image will not provide a literal view of the subject; size cues and identifying subject details are excluded from the composition. The Subjects may be manmade or natural.  (Note: Blur through intentional camera movement and long exposures, for example, as well as software to create abstract images are not to be used for this theme.)

Photojournalism:  Photojournalists specialize in taking pictures that tell a story or, at the very least, add emotional impact to a written piece.  In photos, a story is expressed through context.  For example, a photo of a person laughing doesn't tell much of a story unless we also see what the person is laughing at. 

While we all take pictures of nouns (people, places, and things), photojournalists often try to capture action verbs ("kicks," "explodes," "cries," etc.).  Which tells a better story, a photo of a person posing in a living room with a fishing rod, or a picture of the same person in a skiff struggling with a fish on the line? 

If a photojournalist's subject is static, the subject still should contribute to the understanding of a story or add emotional impact.  One example of a still shot that tells a story might be the effects of pollution.

Capturing an accurate, unbiased representation of an event or scene is also an important aspect of photojournalism.  Of course this means minimizing manipulation so as not to alter reality.

Photojournalists also take portraits, but, again, context is key (unless the subject is famous).  We can't know that a person is a teacher unless the portrait includes visual evidence.  While planning and arranging a photojournalistic portrait is sometimes necessary, New York Times photographer Nicole Bengiveno sums up the preference of many professionals:  "My favorite pictures are real moments when the subjects have forgotten you are there." (Quote found in Photojournalism:  The Professional's Approach, by Kenneth Kobre.)

Still Life and Objects:  Still life photography is the depiction inanimate subjects.  There are essentially two types of still life images; those you carefully set up for a “studio” shot and those you find in the field.  For this theme you may photograph collections of objects as well as single objects.  Although perfectly acceptable, do not feel trapped into producing the typical wine bottle, moldy cheese, and fruit image, or one of the family bible, and granddad’s pipe and pocket watch.  Excellent still life subjects also abound outdoors just as we find them.  Nearby Dudley Farm is an excellent place to find still life subjects all set up and ready to shoot.                                           

Whimsical/Humorous:  Everyone from time to time captures a whimsical or humorous photograph.  These could be of people, pets or wild animals caught in the act of doing something silly, or that we interpreted as looking silly.  Humorous images can also depict funny events or by the juxtaposition of contradictory or opposing objects.

Black and White Landscapes:  Unleash your inner Ansel Adams or Clyde Butcher if you prefer to create interesting black and white landscape photographs.  For this theme images must be true black and whites; no toned images please.

Interior Spaces:


Photo Submission Guidelines:

Please help us by emailing your photos no later than the Friday before the meeting; it will save precious time at meetings. Photos should be emailed to:  You can showcase up to 8 photos a meeting (3 assigned for the theme, 3 general photos, and 2 Monochrome). Please note that if you send less than 3 assigned theme photos, please do not make up the difference by sending 4 general photos. The objective is for you to submit images in all three categories. However, general photos and monochrome photos may also cover the monthly assigned theme.  Images submitted previously are no longer eligible for submission.

Before submitting the photos, please perform the following:

1. Downsize the images - downsize your photos to medium quality JPG's, 1024 pixels X 768 pixels at 72 ppi, (Native resolution of our projector and your projected images will fill the screen. At this dimension, your image files will be quite small and all 8 photos probably will not exceed 1.5 MB.)

2. Rename your files using the following format:

Type Count-Name-MM-YYYY

Type will be A for Assigned Theme, G for General picture, and M for Monochrome photo.

Count will the the number of the photo. This will be used to set-up the order of display.

Name will be your last name

MM is the month in two-digit form

YYYY is the year

For example, if a person named Olivier were to show 5 photos, 3 theme, 1 general, and 1 monochrome, the file names would be:

A1-Olivier-122008, A2-Olivier-122008, A3-Olivier-122008, G1-Olivier-122008, M1-Olivier-122008

3. Archive the images - Zip all of the images into a single file for email attachment.

4. Subject line for the Email - Pease enter "(Your Name) Photos for (Month)" in the email subject line.

5. Email your photos to