Increase Your Chance Of Winning This Years World’s Coolest Contest By Reading Some Of Our Meticulously Assembled Tips
You now have less than a month left to enter Catster’s 4th Annual World’s Coolest Cat Contest! On Nov 14th, entries will close, and the finalists’ photos will be posted for the last round of voting. Between now and then, well be posting tips on how to produce a winning entry, sharing with you the collective expertise of professional photographers, past winners, and maybe even one of this years celebrity judges.
In years past, our photos of Mao, Rocky and Skeezix have won category prizes in the contest — much to my surprise. Competition is fierce, and bragging rights are at stake. But mostly, it’s just a ton of fun.
With my finger on the pulse of this years contest, I can tell you that cats ‘n’ kittens across the globe are plotting ways to unseat Gordy, last years Best in Show winner and definitely the Worlds Coolest Cat. Last week, Skeezix interviewed Gordy, who generously shared his winning tips as well as a behind-the-scenes peek at what goes into a winning entry.
So just what goes into a winning photo? Its a magical concoction of luck, shutter speed, luck, patience, luck, wit, and luck. Yes, lots of luck goes into it. You cannot PLAN for a photo like this:
- Always keep your camera charged and readily accessible, always in the same spot.
Of the 15 categories, focus on a few that your cat is likely to shine in — like the Sleeper category. Nail those categories first with pawsome photos, and then branch out to other categories. Looking for photo opps in all 15 categories at once can be overwhelming. (Each cat can enter each of the 15 categories once.)
- With your category list in hand, review all of the photos you’ve taken this year. There are bound to be photos you’ve forgotten about that would be purrfect entries. Our winning “Captivated Cat” photo (right) was one I uncovered by reviewing my photo archive.
- If you are staging a photo for the Costumes and Shades category, for example make sure you have LOTS of adequate lighting (natural light is best), and try to get by without using flash.
- If you must use flash, dont shoot too close to the cat, and make sure the cat is positioned some distance from any backdrop or wall so you dont get harsh shadows. Diffusing the light from an in-camera flash can result in a softer flash. You can make a cheap and fairly effective diffuser by adhering a small piece of white coffee filter (or similar material) to the flash.
- Use a fast shutter speed. Theres nothing worse than capturing the purrfect pose, only to discover that its blurry. Even if you cant adjust the shutter speed, many cameras offer a Sports mode experiment with that.
- Be mindful of the background. A pile of dirty laundry on the floor behind the cat will take attention away from the subject.
Put the cat on a table or other elevated surface so that you can photograph him at his level without having to snake around on your belly inhaling carpet fibers or dust bunnies.
- Stay calm. Engage your cat in play; make it fun. If you’re stressed out, your cat will get stressed out. Not fun.
- Get an assistant. It is practically impossible to pose your cat AND photograph her at the same time. Ive found that promising hubby that he can move ten guy flicks to the top of the Netflix queue helps persuade him to tackle the role of cat wrangler.
- Treats and toys are essential for getting your cat to look at the camera. And treats help reinforce that this is a FUN time. Treats will prove to be more effective as motivation if your cat is a little hungry.
- Have everything set up (camera equipment, props, treats, toys, handsome assistant) before you bring your cat to the set.
- Take I kid you not hundreds of photos. You will end up with a portfolio of outtakes like the ones below, but among those will be at least one keeper.
- Stop when your cat is tired of posing or when the bleeding gets so bad you have to go to ER.
- If your cat just isn’t into it, give it up.
When it comes to the contest itself, enter as early as possible, and get out the vote! This is no time to be shy about self-promotion. Heres what to do:
- Put a badge on your Catster profile page AND your blog, if you have one (see the example from Jeter Harris’ blog on the right).
- Ask all of your Catster friends to vote for you (and vote for them in return: its good karma!)
- Have Catster friends with blogs? Offer to cross-promote. You post photos with their entries (as well as yours) on your blog, and ask them to do the same. Or, post their badges in your sidebar and ask that they reciprocate.
- In many Catster groups, forum threads are set up where you can post links to your contest page. Post your link if such threads are offered, but dont spam your groups with pleas for votes. (When in doubt, ask your group admin if it’s okay.)
- Catster now offers a Worlds Coolest rosette. Send one to select friends asking for their vote with the link to your contest page in the message.
- Email friends and family and ask for their votes. If they’re not Catster members, explain that they’ll need to spend a minute registering — reassure them that it’s a quick and easy process.
- If youre lucky enough to make the final round, be sure to get out the vote again: the Best in Show entry is selected by popular vote!
- Check out the 2008 World’s Coolest Cat Contest
- Win a costume for the Costumes and Shades Category!
- Read the interview with Gordy.
Check out Past Winners: