We shoot and share our photographs. We want our images seen by other people, as a way of expressing ourselves. Entering photography contests leads to a great way of showing our images to more people with a chance of being approved by a selected jury, but what if some contests are just scams?
Photography is much more popular than it was 10 years ago, and so are the photography contests. There are many contests out there run by respected magazines, photography organizations, photography clubs, photo agencies, and also some photographic brands. On the other side, there is an increase in the contests run by websites, e-magazines, and even by some Instagram accounts. But, do they really tend to make a contribution to the photography world or attract notice to a specific problem? Actually, according to entry fees, photography contests may look like an easy way of earning money by the organizations.
First of all, I don’t intend to denigrate the worldwide known contests like Nat Geo Photo Awards, or some other similar big organizations which also require entry fees. It is quite obvious that entry fee is obligatory for limiting down the applications to serious contestants, and most likely to ease the process of elimination as well. Also, it is known that some other foundations provide scholarships to young photographers or they support personal projects with the collected budget via applicants and sponsors. But, how about the other contests? Mostly, they are launched by new digital magazines or online communities that have no legitimate proof of entity. Sometimes you don’t even know who the juries are, yet they want you to pay per image for entering these “contests.” Briefly stated, if the required entry fee is $10-40 per image to enter, and assuming at least 1,000 photographers attend, that makes a huge amount of money in total, but mostly, the prize is just a couple of thousand for the top three winners. So, what’s the purpose of the surplus amount of collected money? Beyond doubt, everyone has their right to earn money in their own ways, but the rapid increase in these kinds of contests lays bare the fact that amateur and enthusiast photographers are considered easy targets to monetize.
These contests mostly accept applications worldwide, and they usually do not have a theme. You can apply for different genres with unlimited photos as long as you pay per image. All the more amazing, some contests make early bird discounts for applications. That just raises doubts about the trustworthiness of these organizations.
Another Ugly Truth About Fake Photo Contests
Some of the fake photo contests do not require money in the first stage. There are lots of fake contests to apply for free, but later on you are asked to pay.
For instance, when you apply for these contests, you usually get an email afterwards stating something like this:
Unfortunately your photo didn’t rank among the top three, but our jury liked your photo so much and we’d like to print your photo in our annual book.
And here it comes again; they want you to pay a fee for getting the printed book. So, if you agree to pay that fee, you will see your photo printed on a compiled photo book with many other randomly selected photos of other applicants who agreed to pay. Well, sad truth is: there is no selection and this is just a humiliating act against photographers.
So, what should you do to avoid these scams? First of all, it is better to do some research about the foundation or magazine that launches the contest. It’s also better to search about the previous winners and how that contest affected their careers. Therefore, you can easily get a clue about that contest, and whether it is a scam or not.
- Always try to shoot your best and apply for well known photo contests.
- Always trust in yourself.
- Always compete with yourself.
- Don’t rely on every photo contest you see, pick the right contests that have potential to support your career.
- Always double check the terms and conditions about usage of images and licenses before entering a contest.
- Don’t pay for being featured in a printed book.
If you have any experiences or thoughts about these kind of photo contests, please share in the comment section below.