5 Tips For Better Photos | Competition Tips

Cubs working at Root 'n' Fruit enjoying the Rhubarb harvest
Rockcliffe Avenue Community Front Gardens, entered into the Cultivation Street competition

Photos are a major part of any competition submission. Whether you're a school/community garden or an ambassador it is essential to get a great set of photos that clearly depict what it is you do and show your garden in its best light.

We've put together our 5 top tips (with examples), for improving your images and getting your message across. And don't worry, you don't need a fancy camera. A phone or point-and-shoot compact camera is perfect for the job.

File Size


File Size Before


File Size Before2

All photos you send us should ideally be at least 1MB. You can check in the settings of your phone or camera to be sure it is shooting in a big enough file size. Please drop us an email if you need any help with this.

The example above left is a very small file size. The image looks fine when viewed at a small size, but once the image is enlarged it loses all definition. The example above right is shot at a larger file size so does not lose definition when enlarged.

We use submitted images in several ways. This includes in our judging pack, features on our blog, and for print in our Sunday Mirror articles. If you want to be considered for any of these, make sure your images are this larger size, as we can only feature images that are over 1MB in size.



Lighting Before


Lighting After

Giving a little thought to lighting your shot can make all the difference. You don't need any special equipment, just a bit of forward-thinking. Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • Natural light is best.
  • Avoid bright sunlight. It can bleach out colours, add glare and make people in your photos squint.
  • Take photos with the light source behind you.
  • Overcast days are the best to shoot photos as they cast an even light.
  • Avoid shadows where possible. Bring objects into a well-lit area.

People In Photos


People In photos Before


People In photos After

There are a couple of quick things you can do to maximise the impact of people in your pictures. Thank you to our Ambassadors Janet and Emma, at Garden Store Little Heath, for providing us with these examples.

  • People feel more relaxed if they are given something to do or hold.
  • Get them to stand nice and close, it created a friendly atmosphere.
  • Get everyone to look at the camera where possible. It makes people appear more open and approachable.
  • SMILE! Create a jolly, fun atmosphere when taking the photo, even crack a few jokes and you will get natural smiles.
  • Try moving around and taking photos from various directions. Shooting front on may not always be the best angle.
  • Don't just take 'posed' photos. Get in amongst the action and take some candid shots too.

Framing Your Shot


Frame photos Before


Frame photos After

It is a good idea to start taking a number of shots from many different angles. You can then select the ones you think work best.

  • Take some close-up shots to highlight details and others further away, to capture the whole subject matter.
  • Get in amongst the action, don't be afraid to lie on the floor, or stand on a strong upturned box to get your perfect shot!
  • Make sure the interesting features of your subject matter are in the frame. Cropped features and lots of backs of people's heads do not make exciting photos.



Midfield Primary School children in their garden
Midfield Primary School garden with wellies stored on the fence
Midfield Primary School vegetable patch
Midfield Primary School garden's picnic table surrounded by sunflowers and brightly coloured suncatchers
Midfield Primary School children in their garden
Midfield Primary School children and staff

The best submissions contain a variety of imagery. Each shows us different features, angles, people, areas, seasons, etc. Midfield Primary School's submission from 2018 is a great example of fantastic photos. The bright, fun, and vibrant images really make you want to get involved! You can read their garden story HERE>>

Start thinking about all the key features that you really want to illustrate.  Choose photos that can convey emotion and atmosphere to our competition judges.

There are loads of examples of great imagery on the schools/communities' stories posts on our blog. Take a look and be inspired.

Matthew Lewis' story has great examples of Ambassador photos CLICK HERE TO VIEW>>

Please read our guide to photographic consent before submitting any photographs to us.

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