NOTEWORTHY: This Is How You Do Pageant Photography

It is that time of year again when the most successful national pageant in the world, Miss Venezuela, gets underway. The unveiling of the official photos of this year’s contestants reveals the reason for the success of Osmel Sousa’s enterprise. Venezuela always manages to take the contest to new heights, this year through photography.


Miss Venezuela photographer Alejandro Lee captures the imagination which images that look made right on the (IMG) Miss Universe stage.

Everything is on point, the styling, the shoes and the retro swimsuits, which highlight the hourglass figures.

It shows the care and attention to detail that goes into the planning of the Miss Venezuela pageant and the performance of their winners internationally.

Regretfully, most national pageants chose to hate rather than emulate the Miss Venezuela Organization. Yet, nothing succeeds like success!



It only lasts about 3 minutes and all you have to do is talk about yourself. It should be the easiest part about competing in a pageant, right? NOT!

One the parts of pageants that makes contestants most nervous is the personal interview. Yet, you can easily prepare yourself for it because you talk about a subject you should know everything about.

The interview is the part where the judges evaluate whether you got what it takes to fulfil the duties that come with the title you are vying for. Pageant directors instruct the judges which are the qualities to look for and these can vary per competition. Yet in big lines it is all about being able to carry out a conversation, while being engaging and composed.

When I started in pageants, each contestant would get 3 minutes with each judge. This worked because we had 10 contestants and 5 judges. In most pageants nowadays, because of the large number of contestants, each participant gets 3 minutes with the whole panel of judges.

In some international pageants, a group of delegates gets interviewed at the same time by the whole panel. In my opinion, this is a waste of everyone’s time because it hardly gives a judge the opportunity to say good afternoon to the delegate.

Three minutes does not sound like a long time, yet it can be if the conversation does not flow. This is the key to a great interview and to give a great interview you need to prepare yourself. Preparation is not difficult, but it is time consuming.

The first step is to make a list of:

  • your likes and dislikes
  • people you admire and those who irk you
  • your accomplishments
  • things you want to accomplish

Next step is to look at why all those things are on your list, i.e. why do you wish to become an accountant?

Next, think of the event(s) in your life which determined the way you feel about the things on your list, i.e. did winning a math competition make you decide you wanted to work with numbers?

You should also keep abreast of current events and have an opinion about them. Again, look at what led you to form that specific opinion.

It is important to have clear plans for the future. Where do you want to go, how do you plan to get there and do you have the necessary tools to get there. For instance, it is very  laudable to want to become a doctor of medicine. However, if you do not have the required secondary education, it is not a very realistic goal. So, be very realistic in your ambitions.

All these steps serve for you to have a clear understanding of who you are and how you got to be that way. Next, we will look at how to present what you know about yourself in the personal interview.

So, get pencil and paper and start making those lists!




The idea to use so-called nude shoes to create the illusion of height came from the movies. It was found that being unable to tell where Ginger Rogers’ legs ended made her appear taller in her dance sequences. This trick was taken over by other actresses and eventually became popular in beauty pageants.


The illusion is to make someone who is at a distance, like a judge, see “leg” when they should already see “shoe”. To achieve this “trompe-l’oeil”, the best nude shoe is one that is closed-toe, made of natural or suede, NEVER patent, leather, in a colour that closely matches the colour of your own skin.JIMM-WZ10_V2 copy It is not always easy to find a perfect colour match. Therefore, if your skin is darker than the shoe you should get the nude shoes and dye them to a colour that is close to your own skin colour. If your skin colour is lighter than the shoe, buy white ones and have them dyed appropriately.

In recent years, nude platform shoes and sandals have become wildly popular, supposedly with the intention of creating the illusion of height. In a swimwear round though, platform footwear will have the opposite effect. Rather than making the feet disappear, they actually draw attention to them.

For any type of platform footwear to work as a way to create the illusion of height, the shoes must be invisible. This means they must only be used in the evening wear round and preferably be in the same colour and material as the gown you are wearing.

Even though Miss Universe uses the so-called “tippy tops” in their swimsuit competitions, these shoes are a shorter girl’s worst enemies. If everyone is wearing the same shoes, height differences will be just as visible as without them. If your height is less than 5’7”, these sandals will make you look like you are walking on blocks and accentuate your real length. Tippy tops truly only look good on the tall girls, those who should not feel the need to create the illusion of more height.

While the Miss Universe contest can be blamed for the popularity of the “tippy tops”, they actually did provide their contestants with the ideal footwear during their 1997 contest, as can be seen in the picture below, even though the shoe colour was not always a perfect match.

IMG_0844 copy

When selecting footwear for particularly the swimwear competition, make sure that your shoes do not say that you are unhappy with your height. This will definitely tell the judges that you are less than confident with who you are. And that is not a good thing!



Welcome to The Pageant Consultancy, where our aim is to provide you with useful and relevant advice as you embark on that very unique experience called beauty pageants. You can also visit us if you just want to put your best foot forward as you present yourself to the world on a day-to-day basis.

We will provide you with the necessary information to get you started and/or organised in your preparations to compete in any beauty pageant, anywhere in the world. Off course we cannot take the place of a live coach, someone who is actually with you to observe and comment on your performance. Depending on where you are competing in the world and in which pageant system, your pageant organisers will provide either no or limited preparatory coaching leading up to the competition or they may subject you to intense, detail-oriented, training in the months, weeks and days ahead of that important Finals Night. Therefore you may not require the services of a live coach or that coach may ultimately be the main catalyst for you wearing that desired crown.

A live coach is useful because you are obviously unable to look at yourself during your presentations. You may think you are doing everything perfectly yet be overlooking an important detail. That is where the coach comes in, to be the eyes you cannot be for yourself.

Before you get to the point of selecting a coach, we will assist you in preparing yourself in all aspects of competition. This way you can identify which areas you require most coaching in, thereby using your budget in the best way possible.

You will probably spend months preparing for your competition. Your actual competition time however, will be between three to nine minutes, depending on the time allotted to the Personal Interview. Therefore you will put in a lot of work in order to make an impact in a very, very short time.

We are here to share with you what we have learned about successful competition in over thirty years of experience. We will answer your questions and point you in the direction of available resources, wherever you may be competing.

Pageants are a unique arena in which young women can acquire skills and resources that will serve them in whatever path they chose later in life. Let us be your first step in that endeavour!


Richard John Isa, Coordinator, The Pageant Consultancy


Photo Credit: Nigel Wilson