NOTE: if you'd like to get our complete Guide To Great Photos, here is the link to the FREE download of the e-book: bit.ly/FreePhotosGuide
1. The photo matches what the director is looking for
Well-prepared pageants will instruct their judges on what they are looking for in a contestant and in their photos. For example, if the pageant/director is looking for someone who is "glamorous" and "model-like", a judge is more likely to look for a photo that isn't exactly natural, has a glam factor in wardrobe and jewelry, and tends to give more of a model look vs a "girl next door" vibe.
Tip: take a moment to review your pageant guidelines to see what the pageant is looking for to determine which type of photo you should submit (sometimes your pageant paperwork will explain this clearly; for example, the USA Ambassador pageant has two categories and describes them clearly in their paperwork - they divide the competitions as "glamour photogenic" and "natural photogenic"). When in doubt, politely inquire with your director.
Example: This photo of Sanjana helped her secure the WIN for her photogenic category because it was happy, age appropriate, had a great color for her skin tone, and was fun and different than other girls in her group. It was also appropriately edited and not overdone for her age.
2. The photo makes the judge feel something positive
Does the photo make someone smile or frown? Is the photo so sexy that it would make a judge uncomfortable or does it look so happy that the judge will smile in response?
Tip: Again, take a peek at your photo requirements and adhere to them.
Example: This smile and direct eye contact in this photo connect with the judges easily. The top is not super low, the jewelry is appropriate, and the look on our coach's face is genuinely happy and appealing...a judge would sure smile back at this photo!
3. The photo has the girl as the main focus
Do not have tons of white/extra space in the photo...zoom in and have the girl as the main focus. Also eliminate extra things like trees, other people, distracting colors/prints/patterns etc. Do not lose points because you have extra stuff distracting the judge; the judge is scoring the girl in the photo, not the extras.
Tip: Judges should not be distracted by other things in the photo. Distractions tend to lead to lower scores because the judge is not focused on you.
Example: Note how Mya's photo does not have a lot of white/background space! This photo is cropped well/close to her face to feature and highlight HER!
4. The photo is styled well as a whole
Yes, colors, fit of clothing, style, etc ALL matter in the photo.
- If your top is see through, a judge will be distracted by the problems in the photo vs the positives.
- If you are wearing black and take a photo against a black background, you will fade in VS stand out in the photo.
- If you have a ton of fly away hairs VS combed, sprayed, and polished hair, a judge will be distracted by the crazy hair vs your polished, clean look.
- Also, consider things like lighting and having a professional photo vs one in a selfie format.
- Some things you do not need: crowns, sashes, purses, long white gloves, tons of background (crop the photo instead), excessive bracelets etc
Tip: Take the time to style your photo well. If possible, take a peek at previous winners and note how polished or well styled the photo is. It is very likely that it is a photo that is done by a professional photographer and has a complete look where the girl is the main feature.
Example: Harper's photo added a little bit of personal style and spunk by adding this flower headband. Also, this photo WON her photogenic category for her because of the color coordination and happy/genuine smile on her face!
Overall, judges are looking for a winner who looks great in photos, who is the main focus of the picture, and meets the requirements of the pageant. Many photos can have these qualities...it may come down to personal opinions on colors, head tilts, clothing choices etc. Be sure to choose what you look best in and feel best in so that is reflected in the picture and helps you secure the win!
NOTE: if you'd like to get our complete, 9-page Guide To Great Photos, here is the link to the FREE download of the e-book: bit.ly/FreePhotosGuide