What I Learned About Joining Photography Competitions

Should you join photography competitions?

Photography competitions provide a wide range of benefits to photographers. These opportunities give us an avenue to examine our skills, gain exposure, build a network, and inspire us to further our careers in photography. Although there have been mixed opinions about joining competitions, it's a good way to measure your growth as a photographer.

Having joined several competitions since I've started photography, the amount of creativity and ideas I witnessed helped me improve my skills, creativity, and resourcefulness. It also gave me an idea of what kind of images make it to the top of these competitions. It's also a good way to see how a certain image or body of work you created would rank in a competitive scene. Joining competitions will give you an idea of what works and what doesn't. Granted that these are events where judges are involved; the best way to approach them is to come in with your own style, creativity, and story.

In the video above, I briefly touch on my experience in joining these events. These competitions are not always just for aesthetics, but a combination of creativity, beauty, diversity, and the story behind the series of images.

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4 Comments

Les Sucettes's picture

I mostly find that I waste a lot of time and then I fond out years later that I was shortlisted. But no one told me. Amazing.

Waste of time and money. You want to win one to say you are “award winning”. If there was one where you could pay to win, would be just as good because no one cares

David Pavlich's picture

In my very first exhibit/competition, I had a second and third. I received a couple of ribbons and a few dollars. I have to admit, it was a hoot! I had no expectations and that's the key. If you are deflated easily, then competitions aren't for you. If you're more or less thick skinned, then competitions are great and serve as a learning experience.

One complaint I hear or read is that an entity will set up a photo competition just to get some free images. This is legitimate if the entity uses an image but gives no credit to the shooter. I avoid this sort of contest. If the rules say that they have the rights to the submissions but state that the shooter will be given credit, then I'll enter.

It's all fun!

Marvin Grey's picture

I agree with your points, David. Photo contests are meant to be fun and a good measure of skill for photographers. It also gives you some experience and ideas you can work on. And yes, definitely read the fine print before entering! Always make sure you end up with the copyright of the image!

Ter Ess's picture

I believe the sole purpose, of the majority of photo compositions is to make money from the entrance fees..!