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The competition is made up of 8 rounds that open throughout the year with only your best judged result in each round counting towards your overall score. You can find more details in our help section. Good luck!

Round 1

Brief

NEW RULE: The same image, and altered versions of the same image file, can only be entered into one APOY round. Find out more.

Photographers working in black & white often say that colour is a distraction. When we remove colour from the equation, the rules of composition, framing and lighting shift their parameters and require the photographer (and viewer) to see the world in a different way. With everything pared back we tend to focus on the graphic elements of a scene in the form of angles, shapes, lines and textures. Light is another key factor here. When black & white and atmospheric lighting combine, the result can be very powerful. To hone your black & white skills it can help to look at the work of monochrome masters such as André Kertész, Bill Brandt, Michael Kenna and Sebastião Salgado. Toning is completely acceptable in this round.

Round 2

Brief

NEW RULE: The same image, and altered versions of the same image file, can only be entered into one APOY round. Find out more.

If you like cityscapes or landscapes then this round is for you. The brief is purposefully loose, and we are happy to receive images featuring anything from contemporary architecture to grand, mountainous vistas. From the early morning sun throwing shadows onto a skyscraper, to the undulating form of hills receding into the distance, the possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to be abstract in your interpretation: architecture, for instance, is full of curves, lines and other interesting details. When it comes to shooting the landscape, light is everything – so pay attention to sunrise and sunset times, the weather forecast and tide timetables, where appropriate. Whether you go urban or rural, planning is a must.

Round 3

Brief

NEW RULE: The same image, and altered versions of the same image file, can only be entered into one APOY round. Find out more.

For this round we would like you to train your lens on all creatures great and small. This is an open round, so we are happy to see shots of everything from garden birds and pet poodles to crabs in rock pools and lions prowling the scrublands. It’s worth doing some research before embarking on your shoot, as pictures that show an aspect of animal behaviour tend to hold the viewer’s attention for longer than a standard portrait. If your animal is moving it’s also a good idea to leave some space ahead of them to ‘travel’ into. In these instances you might want to experiment with panning (moving the camera horizontally from a fixed point) to add to the sense of speed.

Round 4

Brief

NEW RULE: The same image, and altered versions of the same image file, can only be entered into one APOY round. Find out more.

For this round we are looking for images containing people, whether that be in the form of a portrait, candid street scene, or carefully considered selfie. Bear in mind that there are expectations attached to portraits that can be somewhat intimidating. Drawing out the hidden qualities or character of an individual is not always easy. There are a number of things to consider, such as ensuring the correct focus and making sure that your images are not full of superfluous background detail that ends up fighting with your subject for attention. Great people pictures can be found in all walks of life, from family and friends to local shopkeepers as well as strangers.

Round 5

Brief

NEW RULE: The same image, and altered versions of the same image file, can only be entered into one APOY round. Find out more.

Close-up photography allows us to explore elements of nature that might otherwise remain hidden from the naked eye. Subjects such as plants can provide a beautiful canvas of colour, shape and texture, and getting in close can reveal how seemingly disparate elements function together to form a cohesive whole. But we don’t just want you to focus on plants – we also want to see your close-up images of insects, shells, feathers, food, jewellery or anything else you care to scrutinise. When shooting a close-up picture, select your point of focus carefully and bear in mind that depth of field will be very limited, so take your time and use a tripod or beanbag where possible.

Round 6

Brief

NEW RULE: The same image, and altered versions of the same image file, can only be entered into one APOY round. Find out more.

Arguably one of the trickier genres, street and candid photography is nonetheless incredibly gratifying when you get it right. Capturing the unwitting choreography of people as they go about their daily lives is a challenge worth rising to - and this category gives you the opportunity to do just that. Take a look at the work of legends of this classic genre such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau and Vivian Maier, and learn what you enjoy about their approach. Then study the likes of Martin Parr, Niall McDiarmid and Bruce Gilden, for a more contemporary outlook. In all cases, keeping the kit simple and - generally speaking - shooting with a wide to standard lens will keep you close to the action.

Round 7

Brief

NEW RULE: The same image, and altered versions of the same image file, can only be entered into one APOY round. Find out more.

The vagaries of our climate can be frustrating, but at the same time they offer some fantastic opportunities for exciting and engaging photography. In this category, any subject goes, as long as it has weather as its dominating theme. This might mean the morning light streaming through autumn mist, someone running for the bus through the pouring rain, people snoozing on a sun-drenched beach, or a mountainscape in the snow. Be creative with how you portray the scene in front of you, perhaps using a long exposure to capture streaking raindrops or a neutral-density graduated filter to emphasise the moodiness of a stormy sky.

Round 8

After Dark

Opens in 11 days

Brief

NEW RULE: The same image, and altered versions of the same image file, can only be entered into one APOY round.

There’s a special mysteriousness to the time after the sun sets, and it’s begging to be photographed. You might be fortunate enough to find yourself in a part of the world that bears witness to the Northern Lights, and are able to capture the ethereal swirls of colour as they dance through the sky. At the opposite end of the scale, you might want to put yourself in the heart of a sweaty mosh pit, with a wideangle lens, at a late-night gig. Cities are often at their best after dark, with plenty of opportunities to experiment with traffic trails and long exposures. Then there’s the Milky Way and star trails (use apps such as The Photographer’s Ephemeris or PhotoPills to find the best spot) to train your lens on, or you might even want to try a touch of light painting, or aim to capture some of your local nocturnal wildlife. The possibilities are almost endless.

in association with

SIGMA’s mission is to provide exceptional products at an affordable price and are again offering a wonderful array of prizes to the winners of this year's Amateur Photographer of the Year competition.

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