7 Lessons Learned from the Canon Photomarathon PH 2014

by . November 14th, 2014

The Canon Photomarathon is one of the largest annual photography contests in Southeast Asia. This year’s competition was held in Bonifacio Global City—more known to locals as BGC—in Taguig, Metro Manila.

And because the contest is on its 9th year, George and I have decided to join and compete for the first time to get us some sunshine and step away from the computer screen for a few hours. It’s also a great opportunity for us to test our skills and see how we’ll perform under given conditions. Basically, contestants are given a theme; they then have a day to shoot and present an entry for the judges to consider. There are countermeasures in effect to make sure all entries were taken within the time period allotted for contestants.


BGC is known for having a bursting scene that simply begs to be photographed; just as famous are the local ordinances that disallows photographers from shooting without a permit. The Canon Photomarathon works with the local government to give participants permits to last until the event ends. Suffice to say, that alone is reason enough to join the competition.

Unfortunately, both of us left without bringing home the proverbial bacon. Even though we may not have managed to get into the finalist roster, we did learn a few lessons along the way as participants in the Canon Photomarathon.

1. Bring a bike (or other forms of transportation that doesn’t use gas) that can creep past traffic

Riding a bicycle certainly beats roaming around the city on foot while looking for a shot. Going around with a car is a good idea but it could impede you since you might have trouble finding a place to park; even worse, you could get stuck in a traffic jam. Apart from that, bringing a simple mode of transportation helps you move past the throes of other participants. There are risks to shooting near the event are. For one thing, that’s where people are most likely to set up; the chances of getting similar shots run high. And judges don’t like seeing the same thing over and over.



Would be nice if you could bring this bad boy around town though.


2. Bring snacks and water to last a day

Walking and shooting around the city is indeed tiring but a quick snack and a bottle of water helps you to get through the day. Also, you avoid having your pockets emptied in restaurants.

3. Have some non-participant friends join you

Don’t be a lone shooter! It’s fun to shoot with friends (who are not participants to avoid competition). Having extra pairs of eyes and brains help, especially when brainstorming on a photo concept that will fit the theme and where to take it. It would be also preferable that you take a friend who knows the city like the back of their hand.



You can also re-inspire yourself by checking out the photography wall


4. Extra batteries are lifesavers — and so are cafes

Going around and shooting the whole day can be draining. You know what else it drains? Your battery. No one wants to have their camera die on them during the contest which is why extra batteries are a must. In case you have no extra batteries, charging in cafes are the next best thing. Charge your camera’s batteries while you recharge yourself with a nice cool drink.

5. Google Maps is your friend

Not just so that you don’t get lost in the city; it’s also a great way to mark the areas where you’d like to shoot in. It allows you to plan your route going in and out. Other than that, Google Maps pretty much shows you what the area looks like so it could help you do a bit of planning as you move to your destination.


Plan your route because you wouldn’t want to be late on uploading your entries.


6. Be more visual and worry less about the message

Though subjective, many photography contests value aesthetics more over the content. This holds true for the Canon Photomarathon. Reason being is that with so many entries, the judges have no time to scrutinize each and every single photograph and wonder what message the photo is trying to convey.

7. Don’t shoot for the contest, shoot for yourself

As a participant, you are given one day to roam the city complete with city permits allowing you to shoot. You may use it to shoot for the contest. Alternatively, you could ditch the contest and shoot places you’ve always liked to photograph but never got to. Having a permit gives you immunity for a day. Regardless of how will you use this opportunity, do not forget to always respect private property and that safety should always be your number one concern.

Did you attend the Canon Photomarathon? Tell us your experience at the comments below!

Photographs for the banner and posts are taken by George Nacpil