Andrew Forsyth's photographic tips

Andrew Forsyth is an award-winning wildlife photographer, our chief photographer and longstanding judge, who looks through thousands of photos every year to find the finalists. Here are his tips about what makes a winning photo.

Every year I'm inspired by the quality of photos in the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards and I can't wait to look through them and find my favourites. But, with so many entries, how can you take that winning shot?

What to take

Look at the category briefs to help you get started. Whatever you choose to photograph, think about how to make your photos interesting so they stand out. Colour, action and humour are always a hit! Try to tell a story in your picture.

Don't copy other pictures just because they've won, as each year we like to see new ideas. By making the effort to come up with something different your photos will stand out.

How to take it

You don't need to have lots of expensive equipment, just a camera that lets you focus in close on the subject. A zoom lens may help, as you won't need to be as close to the animal – a bonus if you're photographing anything that might sting or be scared of you! A tripod may be handy if you need to hold the camera steady for a long time, but if you don't have one then try to rest the camera on something to keep it still.

Whether you're indoors or outdoors, take photos both with and without flash. Your flash may be too strong if you're very close to the subject, so try turning it off, if you can, and see what works best. On sunny days look for subjects in the shade as this can give a nice soft feel to the light. Cloudy days can sometimes work well too.