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Top tips for photographers entering the Walkleys

Photo editor and member of the Walkley Judging Board, Mags King, shares her advice for photographers.

As a member of the Walkley Judging Board I, along with the other board members, select the year’s Walkley Award winners from the finalists nominated by the first round judges. It is a pleasure and a privilege to see the best in photojournalism each year, but sometimes we see some photographers do their work a disservice by their edit or in their statements. 

So I wanted to offer some advice for how photographers can approach their entries.

Photography is a personal process, and yet news photography is often created with many external considerations. Press photographers have to fulfil numerous criteria for multiple use, often within a short fleeting moment or limited access.

Entering the Walkleys has to be personal. Your entries have to reflect the height and breadth of your photographic expertise and experiences, with no compromise.

Each photo in your selection has to be consistent in visceral impact, creativity, technical quality, and ultimately reflect your best work—regardless of how they have been published.

As you begin thinking about your entry, I’d suggest you start with a broader, loose edit of images that you are most proud of from the year.

Show them to a handful of people you respect, who will be able to give you an honest critique.

Look at them as a group of images. Rearrange, assess the running order. As you look at the collection, is the experience consistent or are there “flat” or ordinary moments? If so, then question where this is happening, what is a particular photo saying or offering to the mix? Is it weakening the edit? For categories where you can submit more than one frame, this is crucial in the judging process—the  result you want is consistency in excellence in your selection.

Consider how the judges will react to your entry. Is your selection exciting? Trust your gut.

Move away and revisit it after a day or two.

Think about the stories behind each entry, and express your thoughts and intentions in your accompanying statement. The stories behind your photos matter to the judges and will be discussed during the judging process, however a strong statement can’t mask an average photo.

Question your choice of photos, and your edit. 

And I know we all love a deadline, but allow yourself enough time to go through the process so that you are happy with what you are entering.

Good luck! We look forward to seeing your entries this year.


Mags King has been a photo editor for 20 years and has worked for major media organisations in London and Sydney. In 2012 she was appointed managing photographic editor across The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review. Mags has been a photographic judge for the Walkley Awards, Amnesty International, Indian Photographic Festival and Clique. She has curated and produced photographic exhibitions including Photos 1440, Spectrum Now, Into the Line of Fire, Weather, and exhibitions for the Indian Photo Festival and the Head On Photo Festival.

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