As your photography skills grow and mature, you may find yourself wanting to take part in various photography contests and competitions. This is a great thing, and gives you the chance to compare your work with other talented photographers.
Though the possibility of winning is always a motivating factor, the process of critiquing your own work and selecting images to submit is just as valuable. Equally, shooting specifically for a competition is a liberating experience that leaves plenty of room for creativity.
Read on for a handful of quick tips and techniques to bear in mind when looking into photography competitions.
Only Enter "Good" Competitions
One key thing to remember is that you need to pick and choose which competitions are worthwhile entering. Although it's difficult to determine whether a contest is "good", here are a few things to look for to decide whether you should enter:
- Who are the judges? If they're already household names, great. If not, look into their background and portfolio to judge the standard they'll be expecting you to reach.
- Who are the previous winners? Take a look at previous winning images for an insight into what type of photos are successful. Ensure they're of a high enough standard for you to want to compete with.
- What's the prize? Though winning isn't everything, it's good to be aiming for something worthwhile. This will be a different level for different people, but you want to ensure the material value or prestige of the prize is worth the work you'll be putting in.
International, or Local?
If you're looking for a real challenge, various international events can offer a strong level of competition. Take a look at the Nikon Photo Contest International, Canon Contests, and various others featured at Photography Competitions. The prizes for this type of competition often run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Alternatively, take a look in your local newsagent and pick up a few photography magazines. These are always running "reader features" alongside smaller competitions and, although the standard will still be high, you'll have a slightly better chance of seeing your photo in print.
Four Things to Remember
Here are four tips to remember when entering competitions and submitting your work:
- Never enter a competition if it requires giving away rights to your image, or if it falls into the bracket of "spec work". Always carefully read fine print, and understand what the competition entails.
- Don't submit work you believe judges will like, rather focus on images that you're most proud of personally. Relying on your personal judgement is more accurate, and also makes the whole process more valuable as you're learning to better critique your own work.
- Read the requirements carefully. You want to be sure that your submission won't be rejected on a technicality (i.e. being the wrong format or size, etc), or for not covering the correct subject matter. Stick rigidly to the theme of the competition, but try to interpret it in a unique way.
- If you are allowed to submit multiple images, aim for a diverse selection and style. This means that if the judges don't like one particular image, the others are still in with a good chance.
Don't Be Discouraged
Remember that the main reason to take part in photography contests is not to win. You should be finding the process valuable - both shooting for an unusual or enjoyable spec, and critiquing your own work. You won't win every time, and practice makes perfect!
Do you have any of your own competition tips? Feel free to share them in the comments!
Photo by takkaria.