Photo Travel Essay

PTD Photo Essay Competition Suggestions and Guidelines

Photo Travel Definition: A Photo Travel image must express the feeling of a time and place, and portray a land, its distinctive features or culture in its natural state. There are no geographical limitations. Close-up pictures of people or objects must include distinguishable environment. Techniques that add to, relocate, replace or remove any element of the original image, except by cropping, are not permitted. All adjustments must appear natural. Conversion to full monochrome is acceptable. Derivations including infrared are unacceptable.

Format: You may use any program to create your essay. The preferred format is mpeg 4 (mp4). Depending on the platform you use, you can proceed as follows:

  • If using Windows and ProShow Gold/Producer, go to Publish and select Video for Web, Devices and Computers. Then select mpeg 4, H264, 1080p.
  • If using iMovie, go to Share and select Export Movie. Then select HD 1080p and click on Export.
  • Other acceptable formats are .mov and .avi. These are proprietary formats that may not produce the same quality as mpeg 4. Unacceptable file formats are exe, ppt, flv, wmv. There are many articles and tutorials on the Internet about photo essays, ProShow Gold and iMovie. You might want to look at some of them for ideas and help in creating your essay
Judging: Judges will consider all aspects of essays including image quality, visual and emotional impact, use of transitions (too many different types may have a negative impact), and the sequencing of images. They will also look at the flow of the essay, creativity (meaning unusual and fresh presentation within the Photo Travel definition) and the overall story shown. Essays should show a land, culture, a place as stated in the definition above to be considered eligible. An essay may show a land without people if it shows distinctive features in their natural state. Judges may consider how well the narration and music enhance the pictures. Technical aspects are less important than other parts of an essay, but the images should be of good quality.

Music: Since essays selected by the jury will be shown in public settings, it is essential that the music does not infringe the copyright of composers, authors or musicians. There are two types of music that may be used:
  • Royalty Free (licensed): This means a one-time license fee has been paid which allows the user to play the music in public as often as he or she wants without paying royalties for each performance. Websites such as sell such music, and there are many others.
  • Public Domain: This is music to which the authors and musicians have given up their copyright. Websites such as provide such music, sometimes for a donation.

The PSA website maintains a continually growing list of sources for royalty free music (see This can be accessed by signing in and going to My PSA under “for your reference.” Permission to use copyrighted music is NOT automatically granted by buying an audio CD, buying music off the Internet or by acquiring the music for no cost.

Note that on the entry form, the entrant must certify that the music does not infringe copyright, i.e. that the music is royalty-free or in the public domain, or that the user has the composer’s and performer’s permission for its use in public performances.

Star Ratings: Medal and HM winners can apply for 4 acceptances and 2 title credits up to and including Star level 5, and for 1 title credit accepted three times towards Galaxy 1 to 5.