Photography Contests

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by jice, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. I've not entered photo contests previously, but thought it might be helpful to gain some recognition. I've started looking around and notice that many contests require an entry fee.
    Is an entry fee standard practice? Is it an indication of a less prestigious or otherwise suspect contest? What kind of fee should I expect to pay?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Well paying nothing would be good.
    When you consider (by reading the small print) that you are generally giving away your picture rights so that the 'competition' organizers can use them in any way they see fit, forever, making derivative works from them, etc etc without any recourse or payment to you.
    And in addition I have seen T&C's that also allow sale of those images to third parties to be used in any way they wish, BUT there is an additional clause that states that YOU in submitting the images to the 'competition' and allowing all of this to occur, also agree to pick up the cost of any legal liablilty that affects the organizers, arising from the third party use of them.
    They are not competitions they are rights grabs, ones that you also hand over money for.
    To be fair there are some good competitions, with fair T&C's and occasionally they charge a modest entry fee.I have no problem with those. Some dont even charge a fee.
    It pays to read the small print so that you can tell the difference and know exactly what you're getting into.
  3. Hi John,
    The contests worth entering are the ones where a final print is used for judging and on public display. The printed image is always better than the monitor display judging. Given the huge variables present in monitors, the odds are the judges and even the original photographer may not be looking at a good image.
    Then you have to consider internal biases that judges may have when it comes to subject matter. Plus, the image you submit might be great by your standards and quickly shot down by the judges. Does your ego bruise easily like a banana?
    Rights grabbing contests: You need to read all of the rules. A lot of contests clearly state that you will be giving the contest all of the rights of ownership to the owners of the contest. This is common in the digital contests. Avoid any contest where you give up any ownership of a right(s) related to the image. This is a way for the contest owners to build a vertually free library of photography for them to use as they please.
    Now sit back and consider if the effort is worth your time and money. It takes time and money to generate a contest quality print. Now add the time of packaging and mailing fees for each contest, be it local, out of state, or even international. How will you use the potential fame? What if you never have any contest success?
    I have entered contests and it is costs money and time. Having your work on public display is nice as your ego gets stroked a little with people being able to see the photos. I just lost interest in the work needed to submit to a contest. There is not enough time due to all of the creative areas that need my time.
    In the end, you should ask yourself why you are doing photography. To satisfy a creative need? To better yourself as an income generator? Fame is fleeting in the long run.
  4. Gup

    Gup Gup

    Hi John, I agree with these previous comments regarding the fine print. My other issue, though, is that often these contests are a back-handed way of generating large email lists that can then be sold for huge profits. I abstain from entering any of them. However, all contests aren't the same. Some will offer great exposure to the winners and may generate business for them, but would you really like to give away possibly your best work, because why would you enter anything else. That said, I do understand the ego stroke and have enjoyed it myself, but would advise to tread with caution and never pay an entrance fee.
  5. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    When you consider (by reading the small print) that you are generally giving away your picture rights​
    This is only true of some contests, usually ones that get mentioned here. I have entered several contests that take no rights other than to publish on the results site. These are all "art" contests in that they are not associated with publications or for-profit organizations (other than sponsors.)
    The contests worth entering are the ones where a final print is used for judging and on public display.​
    Most good contests don't have the budget for judging initially from final display. The contests I have entered do a first sort based on digital submissions and then require prints for final judging. However, I have seen some good contests that I have not entered that do not use final prints because of the costs associated.
  6. My ex-wife just won $100 in a NYC park contest taken with a P&S. Colorful, but I thought the composition was just OK. I never won anything like her. But I'm not bitter, of course.
  7. FWIW (and probably not much judging by your question) I never enter contests. Not interested. The vain reason is that I don't want to give the judges the pleasure of putting my work behind someone else's (which might be actually better or, in a post-modernist world, much worse). The main reason is that I don't need or want a judge to tell me that my photographs are good.
    People's feedback is always great, and I always like to satisfy clients. Those are different things, though.
  8. I enter a prestigious photographic portrait competition every year and it charges an entry fee to cover admin etc. You really need to check the credentials of the organisation running the competition.
  9. You may find the following helpful:
  10. It can be said that some photo contests have an agenda that some photographers may disagree with, but there are also a lot of photo contests that respect photographers and their rights.
    Two websites that may prove helpful and
    Always read the terms and conditions before entering into any agreement.
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    The main reason is that I don't need or want a judge to tell me that my photographs are good.​
    The vast majority of contests don't have the end result of being told that "photographs are good." They have monetary, exhibition, publication and other results.
  12. Its always pot-luck. As other's have said there are a lot of variables. One way to approach entering your work is to stay local. At any given time there is something going on near you like an organization or gallery that can be checked out personally or verified through friends. Get friends to join you with an entry. Traveling a couple of hours away to deliver art works to a show becomes a photo-jaunt. Post a message announcing that you are entering and would like some company or someone to deliver your entry.
    Enter locally for professional development or at least the social interaction. Being accepted at regional shows gives you street cred and puts your name in the mix for further opportunities. If loosing control of reproduction rights is an issue for you - you should at least expect photo credit
  13. If you want to find out how good you are, your locate your local art clubs that run shows and have more than one judge to judge the work, and then maybe you might understand how good your work is by seeing it against others work. no money spent but just your time.
  14. I would only enter prestigious competitions where copy right infringement was respected. Where the benifits of entering provided reputational gain for my work, and where the reward was substantial.
    here is an example, A National Competition, $25k first Prize and copy right protected, used only by the gallery to promote the exhibition.
  15. My ex-wife just won $100 in a NYC park contest taken with a P&S. Colorful, but I thought the composition was just OK. I never won anything like her. But I'm not bitter, of course.​
    Well I thought it only approproate to show her win. So here's the post. The fountain. What do you think?
  16. IS a contest a good way to gain recognition? Maybe among the community of those who enter contests, but I"m not so sure about the larger photographic community. I mean, who knows who won what contests last year? I don't even recall seeing articles regarding photo contest winners.
    I could be wrong, but if you want recognition from your peers, I should think a photo blog and a small amount of marketing would work better.
  17. "I've not entered photo contests previously, but thought it might be helpful to gain some recognition."

    No, it won't help in the slightest.

    Let's play a game. Off the top of your head, name the winner of the 2008 World Press Photo Awards, go on. Don't look it up. That's a proper, prestigious award - no fee, by the way - that gets coverage in the press. Most people couldn't name any of the winners; there's no chance whatsoever that your local "lovely flowers, lovely trees" photo competition will help you at all. The National Portrait Gallery's Taylor Wessing Prize is also free. The National Geographic prize has a $15 entry fee. These have a $200 fee, presumably to keep out the riff-raff:

    It might bring you to the attention of other competition entrants. Photo competitions exist in a bubble, apart from the real world. Like Flickr groups and so forth. You'll end up trapped in a bubble of people who congratulate each other. You might enjoy this for a while; but one day you'll be puzzled that no-one in the street knows or cares who you are. Your photography will deteriorate because you'll be afraid to upset your fellow backslappers and that will be the end of you.

    Anthony Suau, by the way. He also won in 1987. The ironic thing is that most people in the street don't know or care who *he* is, either.
  18. “The COHRED Group would like to announce the official launch of its first photo competition “Capturing Research and Innovation for Health, Equity and Development”!
    This photo competition, held in the context of our upcoming Forum 2012, aims to bring to light innovative research projects and to illustrate their impact and value to people’s lives, in real circumstances. Selected photographs, representing research and innovation for health, equity and development, will be showcased at Forum 2012 in Cape Town. These pictures will be used to illustrate ways in which research for health can be brought to the next level through appropriate policies and investments.

    We invite you to send in your submissions before the 29th of February and to send the word out to your networks today!

    For more information visit our website

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