The Genuine Moments competition invites members of the Armed Forces and the extended military family to submit their images of everyday service life until November 30th

Image by Bryan McArthur

Image by Bryan McArthur

There’s only a couple of weeks left to enter the Forces Mutual ‘Genuine Moments’ competition, to be judged by a panel including AP’s own editor Nigel Atherton.

The Genuine Moments contest invites members of the wider Armed Forces family to submit photographs of everyday service life for a chance to win nearly £4,000 in prizes. The competition is designed to challenge the image of the military that the public are used to – with less parades and combat boots, and more insights into the real lives of the people who make up the Armed Forces.

Themes for entry include everyday life on duty, working with the UK Armed Forces personnel, R&R and base life, what it means to be a part of the military family, and animals in the military.

Genuine Moments is accepting entries until November 30th. Visit www.forcesmutual.org/photo to learn more.

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Image by Rich Joynes

Submissions will be judged by a panel including representatives from Forces Mutual, its parent Police Mutual Group, Amateur Photographer, BFBS and MOD, and the winner will be announced on 15 December 2016. Entrants do not require professional experience or a state of the art camera; instead the judges will be looking for natural, appealing and non-aggressive imagery that means something special to the photographer. It should be eye catching, original, artistic and have strong composition and overall impact.

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Q&A with Mike Lairdmike

We caught up with panel judge, lecturer and former Afghanistan photographer, Mike Laird, to ask him his advice for those eager to enter the competition.

As a judge, what sort of criteria are you looking for in a winning entry?

“A winning entry will have an immediate visual impact and display originality, relevance and mood. Framing your subject is vital and, to me, more important than tone, focus or background alone.”

What should hopeful entrants avoid doing?

“At all costs avoid pop-up flash! It can create flat, harsh and unflattering images, particularly when used close-up with photographing people.”

Do you have any tips or advice that you would offer to interested photographers?

“To capture moments that are often brief in duration you need to know your camera and to use it instinctively. Think about techniques for indoors and outdoor shots – some are very simple. Learn how to drag your shutter, bounce your flash, use diffusers and shoot longer shots. Carry the right kit for the job and never forget spare batteries!”

Why is the Genuine Moments competition important? What do you think we can learn from images like these?

“Genuine Moments does what it says on the tin. Being able to capture something as fleeting as a moment is a skill and to represent it well in a photograph is an art. As a photographer we can all learn from studying the photos that others take and consider how we might have captured the same moment and how it would have turned out. As a viewer we learn to see and interpret the image as another has seen it. Possibly even to admire it and wish we had been able to take it ourselves.

“Within reason try to be as adventurous as your subject matter in order to create a photograph that will truly inspire the viewer. Keep in mind that a Military life is many-faceted, so images should endeavor to capture both the softer and grittier aspects, however contradictory or juxtaposed they may be. For those looking for a more straightforward composition, beautiful subject matter and poignant moments such as homecomings will always shine through.”