“Turn your print upside down” an interview with Bob Coates


September 3, 2010 by N@

Bob Coates is a successful photographer based in Sedona, Arizona.

In addition, he’s an author of photography books and magazine articles, educator and speaker. Currently serving his second term of Arizona Professional Photographers Association Bob is constantly looking to serve the photography profession and help fellow photographers grow their image making and business skills.

How long have you been picking up a camera?

Started at age 28 and messed about for 13 years until becoming a full-time pro in March of 1995

Did you always know that you wanted to be a photographer?

No. Went through a pile of careers before finding the creativity of photography kept and held my interest.

What is your speciality as a photographer?

I specialize in not specializing. Commercial, wedding, and scenic art are some of the areas I tend to spend more time in.

When your not shooting for clients, what kind of images do you like to shoot?

Scenic art. I’m now really interested in exploring black and white. We now have so many more tools to control every tone of a scene. Ansel Adams would be going crazy to have access to all the controls we have available to use from Photoshop to NIK filters, multiple exposures using HDR. Black and white is extremely exciting.

You have been an international judge for many years now, how did you first get into judging?

Must be getting old… I can’t remember when I first started judging internationally. I got into judging by first getting into competition. Entering print competition through Professional Photographers of America and Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, my local guild and other competitions helped me to learn how to get images to stand out and develop my skills as a photographer.

Do you think there are extra considerations to be made when entering an International versus Local competition?

Try to come up with images with IMPACT! Showing the judges something they haven’t seen over and over can give you a leg up. Spectacular lighting and new ‘looks’ are a good way to get extra attention. The difference between local and larger International competitions is that it’s a bit harder to stand out at International.

It’s been said many times that entering a competition is more than just winning. What do you take out of a competition when you enter?

Regardless of final results I’ve found many times even just entering a contest can generate a press release which means more attention for your business.

What are the first 3 things you look at in your images when you enter a competition?

Impact. Showing the use of the medium to it’s fullest meaning control of the light to best show off the subject. Composition.

What advice would you offer photographers entering a competition for the first time?

Turn your print upside down after you think you have finished working on it. Leave the room. Come back and see where your eye goes in the image. Is it still on your subject or has your eye gone to another area of your image. The eye goes to the area of highest contrast and if that isn’t your subject you probably don’t have a successful print for competition.

Bob is on the judging panel of the 2010 International Aperture Awards. Entries close on 15th October 2010.

Check out Bob’s fine art photography at and commercial work at


One thought on ““Turn your print upside down” an interview with Bob Coates

  1. Mr Aperture says:

    Out of all the judges for Loupe I would be more than happy to go on a photo walk with you and bring along my Leica MP and shoot a roll of film and talk photography. Great to see you as a judge on Loupe Bob and don’t forget to bring that big stick to bring inline the rest of the judges and remind them of pure clean bare bones photography.

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