Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Why Should I Enter Photo Contests or Shows?
Participating in photo contests and shows is a good way to share your photo vision with others. It can increase your recognition and reputation; and for some people it can provide the incentives and the competition to drive the creative process.
A few words of caution: 1) Be careful not to give away your rights. Read the rules and fine print. Avoid those contests that have language such as, "...all entries become the property of..." These contests are just a way for publishers and corporations to obtain cheap images. Reputable contests and shows will never require you to give up your copyright.
2) Make sure the prize(s) are worth the effort or the entry fee(s). In some cases, just the recognition of winning or even being selected to hang in a prestigious show or gallery (in the case of a fine art contests) are more than enough compensation. If the judge is highly respected, just being able to mention in your resume that your photography made it into the show can be a real feather in your cap.
3) Start small. In the beginning, enter local or regional contests or shows rather than at the national level. The competition at national contests can be fierce. The number of entries in a contest like The Great Outdoors Photo Contest is often in the tens of thousands. Setting your sights too high in the beginning, and having a long series of disappointments at the onset, could smother creativity.
My first contest was a regional contest among my local peers, the Intermountain Professional Photographers Association. I walked away with the "Photographer of the Year" award. There was no prize money, but the local press coverage (which included running the above picture and my face) really helped to jump-start my reputation in the community and the confidence in my photo vision.