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12 Jun 2017
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How to Win in a Photo Contest

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Posted By Sheldon H.

As with any other subject or matter, the world of photography includes many photo contests for amateurs and professionals alike to enter. If you are new to this realm, contests are a great way to brush up on your skills and greatly increase the amount of visibility you have in the market. If winning is what you desire in your next photo contest, follow these tips:

1. Study the rules first. Rules are usually written in such small fonts that it becomes too cumbersome to read. However, studying the rules will let you know the details of the kind of pictures the competition is asking for. Details such as the size of the picture, the format it should be submitted in and even how many entries you can submit. The rules also state the ways the photographs will be used after the contest. Most organizations say that once a picture has been submitted, they own that picture and may do with it as they see fit. That's why some photographers become surprised and disappointed when they see the photos bandied around on the internet.

Pay strict attention to any theme associated to the photo contest. If the subject is pets, you aren't going to send in a picture of a building, will you? You may have some photos that you are particularly proud of already in your repertoire, but if they don't closely fit the theme they will be disqualified from the photography contest, regardless of how good they may be. In this case, simply take new photos to fit the theme, and brush up on skills in the process.

3. Research on past winners and judges. There are some contests that are held annually. Research their past winners to find out what stands out. While you don't want to copy their work, it can be a starting point for you. If the contest is sponsored, research on the sponsoring company and what they are focused on. Finally, if the judges are already named, find out more about the judges - what kind of work they do, what style they like or even what kind of images they would appreciate.

4. It is wise to use photograph submissions that tell a story. Just as a good story will draw the reader in, photos that cause emotion in the viewer will score well because they allow the viewer to connect. There are many cases where technical merit has been placed second to the ability for a submission to elicit emotional response.

5. Though obvious, aim for the best possible shot. Photographs that tell a story may win over technical masterpieces, but even an emotion-ridden photograph that is out of focus or of poor composition will be overlooked.

6. If at first you don't succeed... you know how to finish that. Just because you may not win the first, the second or even the tenth photography contest you have entered, keep entering. Every time you work on a contast submission, you hone your skills and improve, even if you don't realize it.

Comments (4)

By Owen B. on JUN 15 2017 @ 7:06AM

The best part about getting involved in things like this is the other people you meet, that's one way to really learn a lot.

By Leland D. on JUN 14 2017 @ 5:13PM

There is a large element of subjectivity, so my advice is to follow your inspiration, and allow others to see what you're trying to show them.

By Julian S. on JUN 14 2017 @ 4:16PM

Entering contests is good training for you to hone your craft.

By Xavier M. on JUN 14 2017 @ 1:11PM

Good point about knowing the rules. No matter how creative you are, or technically capable, if you don't follow the rules the judges could care less.

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