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What You Need to Know About Entering Photography Competitions and How to Nail That Prize

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Entering photography contests is a great way to push your career or hobby forward. It will help you achieve higher skill levels, and if you win, it can earn you prestige that can open the door for numerous opportunities.

If you are going to enter a photography competition and are set on winning, there are certain things you can do to increase your odds. Here are some suggestions.

Look at Previous Entries

If possible, look at entries submitted in the previous years, especially those that placed. Pay attention to the techniques, colors, and themes that were used and the mood that was projected. This will give you a good idea of what the judges are looking for.

Stand Out

Most photography competitions have certain rules in place. And while it’s important to obey these rules, you also want to stand out. Think of going outside the box with the theme you are using or by adding an eye-catching technique.

Shoot with the Competition in Mind

You may have a great shot that you think is award-worthy, but it’s best not to take an existing shot and try to enter it in a competition. It will be a bit like fitting a square peg in a round hole. You are better off starting fresh with the competition’s requirements in mind.

Be Hard on Yourself

It’s hard to be impartial when you are judging your own photos, but when you are submitting to a contest, you really must put your best foot forward. If you have a hard time being unbiased, get a friend to help you decide which to submit.

The Right Light is Essential

The way the photo draws the light can make all the difference between it being a good photo and a great photo. You must capture the light as it moves around your subject to preserve a two-dimensional effect that jumps off the page.

Follow the Instructions

The contest rules may include instructions that are revealed in small print and hard to follow. But if you make one wrong step, you could be eliminated. Some things to consider include:

  • Is editing allowed?

  • What size does the image need to be?

  • What format does the image need to be in?

  • Is there a required color space?

  • What are the deadlines?

  • Is captioning necessary?

  • Are any model releases or permissions required?

  • Who keeps the copyright?

Copyright issues are very important. If you allow the competition to take the copyright for the photo, they will legally own it. This varies from licensing which just gives them permission to publish the photo.

Make sure to pay attention to the fine print where copyright issues are concerned.

Find a Niche Competition

If you find a competition that caters to your niche, you will be more likely to win.

Think of Who’s Judging?

It’s best to enter a competition that’s judged by professionals and not one that’s based on the number of likes each photo gets. The winner should be selected based on skill, not popularity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try

It can be intimidating to enter a competition, but once you put your foot in the ring, it will get easier every time. However, many of these contests will require a fee to enter. If this is the case, consider whether it’s worth it. Will you be getting exposure just for entering? How much will you have to pay? How much is the prize and how many winners are chosen?

Look at the Winners

If you don’t end up winning, you may be tempted to bury your head in the sand and never look at photography again, much less see the winners that have been chosen. But looking at the winning photos will give you insight into what makes a good photo and what the judges are looking for.

Failure should always be a learning experience so don’t dwell on the past. Look at it as an opportunity to come back again stronger next year

A photography contest provides you with a chance to boost your skills, gain recognition, and possibly earn some money. Now that you are armed with tips for winning, you are in a great position to defeat the competition. Which contests will you be entering this year?

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