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Up for Discussion – Competitions

During this last week I received an email from Mike who does the blog Brooklyn Bystander and he wanted to tell me about a competition that he had heard about.  You all know that I have decided it was time I actually entered some and he saw this one and thought I might be interested in it.  I do love how you guys send me things, my email is never boring.  So thank you Mike for sending it to me and adding the words “maybe it could be a good topic for a post?” and I scmallee-hpm8605-6thought it would be perfect for today.

Competitions for photography are everywhere, and there are all different types.  Some will help your career while others will more just help you boost your confidence.  None of them are wrong, or ones that you should consider entering, however I thought today we could discuss competitions.  Look at what I’ve heard, what I’ve experienced and how some work.

I don’t have a lot of experience with competitions, partially because I never feel my work is good enough, and also I don’t really know where they are.  I’ve entered some national ones and done okay, but I have tended to shy away from them.  There is always that voice in my head that says things like, “if you enter you will be smashed”, “no one will think your work is any good”, “people will look at it and thing it is so amateurish”.  I know, I know I shouldn’t listen to that voice, but it is so hard some times.  I think also my experience of entering work into competitions in camera clubs has left me feeling very vulnerable, it was not a good experience.  So I have to get past that.

So once you build up the confidence to enter, there is the next thing what do you enter and what competitions do you enter.  The competitions I want to enter fall under two different scartfair-hpm1569-6types, there are the Photography ones, and the Art ones. Photography competitions can be local, state, national or international.  There are ones in your local paper, and I know there are ones on the internet everywhere as well.  This is where you have to start thinking about what sort of competitions they are.  If you want to build your reputation and be considered an award winning photographer, then you probably need to think about the competition.  If you want to start off little, finding small competitions is good.

I am looking for more of the national and international competitions.  I have gone from being to scared to thinking it is time I just jumped in there and see how I wash up. I am a member of the AIPP which is Australia’s professional photography organisation.  I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it, but they run competitions.  I’ve stayed away from them because they are expensive, but if you are successful, then you can add that to your CV and it could help you in your career.  They have the Canon AIPP Australian Photographer of the Year every year. I don’t think you have to be a member.  It is judged by a panel of judges and ultimately that is going to be the best sort of competition.  I’m not saying the ones where you get your family and friends, or followers to vote for you aren’t good, but then those come down to who has the most people to vote for them.

I would suggest you look for competitions that have a judging panel and check out who the judges are.  See what sort of work they do.  No point sending in a traditional style landscapeleannecole-docklands-20140216-93391 if all the judges do really weird things to theirs.  You need to find judges that you think will like your work.

Art competitions are completely different in some ways.  If you find a photography competition that is being run by an art institution, for example Monash Gallery of Art has a competition coming up, the Bowness Prize and how it works is very different to, say, the one the AIPP run.  With the one by the AIPP every images is considered, but in an art photography competition, they sort of aren’t.  You enter the competition, and your image is considered by a panel, but they also want an artist statement and you have to know what your work is about.  That panel consider every image and then they select, I don’t know, they probably accept about 50 images.  The next stage is an exhibition of those images.  You have to have the image framed and ready to hang.  Once they are all scmu2-4hpm2487-7-3hung then the judges make their decisions as to who will win it.  I enter these, but haven’t been accepted yet, and the goal at this stage is just to be accepted for the exhibition then I can add it to my CV.

There are competitions everywhere, I guess we just have to find them.  The competition Mike told me about was one he found in a Photography Magazine.  It is Life in Colour and is open to international photographers.  I am so glad Mike told me about this.  One thing to be careful about when you enter competitions, always read the fine print.  Make sure you know what they are going to do with your images and what you agree to when you enter them.

One of my favourite photographers, Peter Eastway has written an ebook on competitions and if you are serious about entering them it could be worth your while getting it.  Here is the link, How to Win Photo Competitions.

I have done some stuff to my website and started a blog on it, though not like this one, this will always be my main blog.  The blog on that is more a news one, and it means I can post any time about information or things I find out about, so if you know of any competitions that you think people might be interested in then I can post them there, I will add a link to it on this blog, but if you want to check it out for now here is the link, News blog. It is only for what is happening.

Do you have experience with competitions?  Have you wanted to enter some, but are afraid to?  Why?  What competitions do you know about?  Do you think competitions are good or a waste of time?  If you have entered them, how have you gone?  Were you happy with the experience?

LeanneCole-woodlandBrideThe images in this post today are ones that I have entered in competitions, or ones that I would consider entering.

These posts are a great way to share knowledge, so please contribute.

I will approve them, as long as they are nice and not nasty in any way. Please address your comment and advice to Stacy.

Feel free to respond or reply to other comments.  It would be good to generate some discussion.

If you have a topic that you would like discussed, or a problem you need help with then please send me an email and we will see if we can do a post about it.

A gallery of the images for you.

122 Comments
  1. Such an interesting topic Leanne. I will go through your links later today to see where they end up… I like the idea of competitions. I tend to jump head first without thinking…maybe not the best thing but still.
    I have entered one competition – Clique – run by the Sydney Morning Herald, it is mostly photojournalism which is so not me but yet I still joined. Why, not because I would win anything or even get a mention BUT because it has given me the confidence to go out and try. I have never taken so many photos as I have since entering which is the best outcome… any mention they give me would be icing on the cake but I don’t expect that. I am learning and it has given me the impetus to try which is most valuable.

    May 20, 2014
    • I think you are going about it the right way Kaz, just jump in, I wish I had the courage, but I have prepared a couple of images to enter into a competition at the end of this month. I will do it. I can enter 3. Learning always has to be a good outcome.

      May 20, 2014
      • Good luck Leanne hopefully you will show them to us although I think we have seen one ? On the salt flats which is stunning!

        May 20, 2014
      • Yes, that is one of them, I just have to work out what the other two will be. Thank you Kaz.

        May 20, 2014
  2. lnthrock #

    Right now I am into social media competitions, I think they are a good way to win some prizes, but they are a bit of work. They are not really about your photos they are more about popularity but if you want a career you do have to be able to get people to notice you and social media is one of the platforms by which to do so. It’s good practice in my opinion.

    May 20, 2014
    • I hadn’t considered the idea of exposure, but it is a good point. Thanks for bringing it up.

      May 20, 2014
  3. leecleland #

    Interesting topic, Leanne. As an amateur mad shooter I’ve occasionally thought about entering competitions but as you say, the fear factor stops me, as well as a certain laziness. I also don’t want to give away my control of the image which I’ve noticed is often in the fine print in conditions of entry.

    May 20, 2014
    • I can relate to the laziness, haha, too well really. The fine print is so important. I suppose it is something we might have to be prepared to compromise on in the chance of winning. Thanks Lee.

      May 20, 2014
  4. I too have been smashed from the local camera club but there have been times that I’ve actually placed in the monthly comps (rare though). I’ve won prizes in the photography section in the local show but then overheard snide comments from other camera club members who didn’t realise I owned one of the photos.
    I’ve also won an online photoshop comp with an altered photo of my daughter. My experience hasn’t all been great. I’ve been smashed too. I honestly believe that a lot of times the judgement of an image has a lot to do with the personal preferences of the judge and not just the quality of your image. We’ve had speakers at the club tell us the same thing.
    I think you should go for it myself. Your work rocks and you are plenty good enough. Heck, if I can win a couple of awards – you will win a swag!! 🙂

    May 20, 2014
    • I left the camera club after it happening too much. I hated their views and there was no room for creativity. If you did something that was considered creative then you would get slammed for it. I really didn’t like that. I think it is shocking that you overheard people taking about your image.
      I think you definitely hit the nail on the head there about the judges and their preferences. We were told at art school to do your research on the judges, if you work was nothing like theirs then good chance they wouldn’t like it. But sometimes you just have to do it. Thank you so much Suz, I am going to bit the bullet and enter, come what may. I may be smashed, but it is something I have to do.

      May 20, 2014
      • I haven’t been to te club for some time but one of the members came to visit the other day and invite me to a reunion. He told me there have been a lot of changes since I left including lifting their rules on photoshop and creativity. I said I’d consider coming back.

        May 20, 2014
      • You mean they are just now lifting their rules, that is what I found so hard, they are too stuck in the past and not good at embracing the new. Photoshop is such an integral part of images now. No one ever said that if you print an image in a dark room that you couldn’t alter it, but you aren’t allowed to do that in PS, sorry Suz, I seemed to have stepped up onto my soap box.

        May 20, 2014
      • Please stop to send me spam. I am receiving a lot of messages from you every minute.Many Thanks

        Date: Mon, 19 May 2014 22:42:40 +0000 To: alexcortinhas@hotmail.com

        May 20, 2014
      • I’m not sending you anything.

        May 20, 2014
      • No it’s all good. I have this conversation with the Garden Gnome all the time. He is very anti PS lol. I dared to mention that I had downloaded a trial of Lightroom the other evening..

        May 20, 2014
      • Okay, then, LR is quite good and you can do some interesting things with it. I think it is important to do some things, unavoidable really.

        May 20, 2014
  5. Leanne, I love your images. Particularly the moody ones that evoke a sense of Gothic mystery. You have a way with light that I admire very much so I think you should just jump in there. I’ve not entered any competitions, but I’m thinking about it. I had a small show in December at the request of a store owner I know and liked my work. it cost me about $2,000 to get the prints made and several framed and have enough variety that I thought was appropriate. I had 130 prints. I sold 5. But I did get a lot of nice comments and maybe one day I will try to peddle the remaining prints on a park sidewalk some Sunday afternoon. Competitions have to be way cheaper than shows! LOL

    May 20, 2014
    • Thank you Kongo, I do like manipulating light, so that is great. Exhibitions can be so expensive. Here you have to pay for the rental of the space, then you have to pay for printing and framing, and then you may not sell anything. I think photography is one of the hardest things to sell, most people look at it and say, I could take that. I think you are right competitions are way cheaper. Thanks for your experiences.

      May 20, 2014
  6. Hello Leanne and Stacy,

    For myself I have always been afraid to enter competitions but I sense they render each photographer confidence, courage, and perhaps a prize. Good luck for those of whom try!

    I have always seen folks who enter contests and it appears to me anyway, I simply don’t make it up against some of these incredibly creative and skillful folks.

    But on the other hand competitions perpetuate us forward in ways that are always challenging, engaging and fun.

    Perhaps one day my work will make an appearance in a comp but for now I try diligently to push the technical, creative, artistic, and programming envelope as far as I am able…

    So good luck to all who try comps and thank you to Leanne Cole and all who participate.

    Peace…:)

    May 20, 2014
    • I think they do that as well John. Competitions can help you with goals and trying to get better, like challenges. I hope you do enter some one day John, it is a great thing to do.
      Thank you John.

      May 20, 2014
      • You are so welcome Leanne! Stay Creative….:)

        May 20, 2014
      • I will, something you can count on I think. Thanks John.

        May 20, 2014
  7. I tend to shy away from competitions, Leanne, because of the critical eye and the tearing apart of the artists’ work. If you don’t shoot according to certain standards, then you are automatically out. I don’t like to follow too many rules when I photograph, because I am determined to keep the awe and the fun in what I do. To bring to my audience breathtaking images that depict such magnificent beauty, that only God could have created, and to be able to so with my humble means, transfer that Perfection to my camera, I wouldn’t want more then this. I photograph and create Art because of the passion for it in my Heart. I don’t want to step into the professional arena to get torn to bits. Or if I am lucky to be recognized and then fall under someone’s control on how I am to capture images. Past experiences have left a very bitter taste in my mouth so I perfer to be free as the Wind and do as I please by bringing to all who view them, Beauty that Sings to the Heart and Soul.

    May 20, 2014
    • I do think entering competitions is so dependent on what you want from photography, I think from what you have described your photo is for you, so why would you enter them. If I were doing what you were doing I would enter them either Amy. I do want to get into the professional arena and being able to say I have won or done well in some comps can only help me, so it is something I really need to start doing. Thanks Amy.

      May 20, 2014
      • Well I will keep you close to my Heart and in my prayers that you succeed. You deserve it, Leanne. My dream is to write at least one book and yes this includes what I do over at Petals. You have the stamina to go professional. I don’t. Your work is beyond Perfection, and anyone who tells you anything else, is blind. BIG (((HUGS))) and well wishes all the way from the States from me. Love, Amy

        May 20, 2014
      • Thank you so very very much Amy. 🙂

        May 20, 2014
  8. lensaddiction #

    I have been a member of a couple of camera clubs, I started to enter competitions as a way of judging my progress. However it very much is dependent on what the actual judge personal preference is. We used to have the judges give commentary on all the images and it was often very helpful (and why I started) but also interesting when you hear their bias or preference.

    Some people are more aware of it and some people are oblivious which is a challenge.

    We have the NZIPP here, and i call them the Photoshop awards because the images are so heavily edited they bear no resemblance to photographs at all which is a shame.

    The other reason I have issues with competitions is it also seems to be about whatever style happens to be in fashion at the time as well, Im not about a style and therefore I would never do well as a result.

    I say go for it, except for a bruised ego and some entrance fees, what have you got to lose 🙂

    May 20, 2014
    • I agree, it really is dependent on the judge, one can rate you highly and the other not at all.
      I think Photoshop is part of photography now and it is something we have to accept, it is part of the process, it is another aspect of it, a different technique.
      Oh yes, styles in fashion are a factor, though you would hope that good judges would see past that.
      Thank you, I think the ones I am planning on entering, the bruised ego won’t matter because I will never know what they really think of my images, and as you say nothing to lose. 🙂

      May 20, 2014
  9. I’ve entered some before. However I learned that my taste and those so called judges tastes are very different. I could shoot something that most people will like, but that’s idiotic. So I moved on with most contests. I still joint some free ones online for shits and giggles, that way I get to (a lot of the times) laugh at the judges decisions I guess.

    May 20, 2014
    • Sometimes it is just a case of finding comps that suit what you do too. I know there are comps that I would never enter because I know it would be a waste of time. Those ones sound like fun.

      May 20, 2014
  10. Hi. First, I think your images are incredible. You should have no fear of entering them. 🙂

    I have entered a few competitions, but only online. Generally I don’t want to pay a entry fee or printing and framing costs so I look for community based or theme competitions. I do belong to ViewBug.com, which is an online photo competition site. I joined more as a confidence booster than expecting to win competitions. And it is also a great way to see what others are shooting. I have found the competition winners tend to run to HDR, long exposure landscapes, and a few themes. There is a member vote as well as judges for each competition. I keep plugging away because the peer awards and comments do help boost my confidence. There is also a good website that lists photo competitons all over the world:http://www.photocontestinsider.com/

    Marie

    May 20, 2014
    • Thank you Marie, I should just do it.
      I don’t mind paying entry fees, but I don’t want to pay for printing or framing unless a piece has been accepted.I must check out the sites you have said and see what I think. It is good to keep plugging away I think. Thanks again.

      May 20, 2014
  11. sandlera #

    Leanne, as a hobbyist, I find that most competitions group the amateur and professional in the same arena. I’ve gotten lucky and some of my images are good, but would they stand up to the professional? I would love to enter a contest where feedback is given whether you win or don’t place. I don’t know of any such contest at this point.

    May 20, 2014
    • I think they do too, they will take anyones entry fee. You never know Anne, maybe you are being too hard on yourself. there aren’t many contests where they give you feedback like that. It would be nice, then again, I don’t think I would want to hear what they say, it might be soul destroying. thanks Anne.

      May 20, 2014
  12. Stunning!!

    May 20, 2014
  13. Very intriguing! Great photos!

    May 20, 2014
  14. I absolutely LOVE the photos you posted here, Leanne. Gorgeous doesn’t even describe them.

    May 20, 2014
  15. This topic is one that I contemplate, and I’m happy that you have begun this discussion about competitions. I tippy toe around my desire to enter. A few years ago I mustered the nerve to submit an image to National Geographic Your Shot. What a surprise to be selected and then go on to two other levels of the online competition. I must say that I haven’t entered since that momentous acceptance. They are very strict about any editing of the image, which is another reason to be serious and thoughtful about submissions. I subscribed to your News Blog, and await further discussions about this subject and others.

    May 20, 2014
    • Wow that is fantastic Sally, you really should do more then. Not all competitions are like that and so many more are becoming more accepting of editing.
      Thanks for subscribing. I didn’t get a notice, so I might try adding some of these links in a post later on, can you let me know if you get it?

      May 20, 2014
  16. mikew66 #

    Thanks for Taking this topic on Leanne, lots of interesting and varied opinions. I think I will give it a go just for the experience

    May 20, 2014
    • Yes, there are, and it is great to see how many feel the same as me. Thanks Mike for the suggestion.

      May 20, 2014
  17. I entered once to one online competition, I don’t know if they saw my photograph. But that was good, since then I feel that I don’t need approbation of others about the photos I take for hobby. Of course I accept critics, even negatives, but that doesn’t change that I am very happy with my photographs.
    The lady in veil looks fantastic, it makes me think in the work of Luis Royo (his work is illustration and it’s totally different by the way, but I feel the same atmosphere).

    May 20, 2014
    • That is great that you can feel that way about what you do, I wish I could, I worry too much.
      thank you, I love that one too, it came out so well. I don’t know that person, will have to look him up.

      May 20, 2014
      • Caution!, he’s an Spaniard painter with an erotic thematic, so I suggest caution because that thematic could be really explicit. But searching in amazon you could see the cover of his book “Prohibited” I’m sorry to not have write it before.

        May 20, 2014
      • I am sure I can handle it, thanks for the warning though.

        May 20, 2014
  18. lmarea3070 #

    If you ever decide to do an exhibition, maybe you and a friend can do it together or just enter one for starters!

    May 20, 2014
    • I would like to have an exhibition, but they cost so much and at this stage, I just don’t have the money, but I hope to one day. thank you.

      May 20, 2014
      • lmarea3070 #

        Have a mini show at your house! 🙂

        May 21, 2014
      • Oh no, that would be terrible, I would have to do the housework, haha. 🙂

        May 21, 2014
  19. Hi! Your post was very interesting, especially since I am new to photography as a creative outlet…I am, for the most part, a painter and writer…now excited to add budding photographer. Being new to this form of expression, I had nothing to loose when entering my image into my first juried photography exhibition this past winter. Pleasantly surprised, I was excepted into the annex portion of the exhibit…I got lucky and tried again. So far, I have had success, at least what I consider success, in both national and international exhibitions. My success is not just being recognized for my work by jurors, but being inspired to take a hard look at what I was doing and how I was creating my images …the technical aspect and stuying those who are well known for their work….in order to better my photography. I have learned so much with each competition that I enter, it has been most valuable and has forced me to push myself. I completely encourage anyone to enter their work. It is very tough to have your art rejected …my paintings have seen plenty of that… But one must not take it personally. First, it is subjective and every juror has a very difficult job weighing their own taste in art with technical and exhibit specifications. Second, The juror is creating an overall exhibition that most times must work as a whole. Although your art may be just as good as the work that was accepted, perhaps it did not fit in with the message the exhibit was presenting. Once you realize this as an artist, it is easier to let any rejection roll off your back and then you can study the pieces that were accepted. You can learn much from doing this! I regularly post completions that I feel are worth while on my Facebook page…https://www.facebook.com/pages/CEK-NelsonPoetCheryl-Elich-krumpeltArtist1-person2-sides-many-names/281812041951961?fref=photo
    While I am no expert on this matter, I do research these exhibits. One more thing, when studying the pieces that get into an exhibition, I normally go to the artist website and look at the exhibits that they have been accepted to in the past. This gives me an idea as to what competitions may be worthwhile. The next exhibition that looks good is a big one, here is the website http://www.photoawards.com/en/Pages/Enter/submit.php
    Best of luck and GO FOR IT!

    May 20, 2014
    • Thanks for all the words of encouragement, I think a lot of us can get something out of this. I need to just do it. Thanks for the links as well, it is good to know where you can find comps.

      May 20, 2014
  20. Jen #

    Leanne, I am very surprised you’ve not entered more, your work is so creative and technically superb, too! As others have noted, though, sometimes so much depends upon the judges’ preferences and even expectations. If you do something unusual or different then your chances are very much diminished.

    I’ve only entered a handful of contests, one at the very start of things when I had no real idea what I was doing, and then a smaller local one. That was won by your standard child, pet, and “here is my whole garden” photos—I believe I entered one of my Route 66 images and a classic car photo. Perhaps I should have just entered one of Ben! It was worth a shot, though, so to speak. Really, I don’t think my work is at all up to par at this point in time. If there were truly constructive criticism involved rather than the tear-apart sort, I think a competition would actually be more appealing, if that makes sense.

    May 20, 2014
    • I should just bite the bullet Jen and just do it, but they do require work too, I am planning on entering one at the end of the month, I still need to get a couple of images ready for it though. You really do have to look into the competition and what you are doing.

      It does really depend on the competition and I think you have to do your research first. I so agree with that last part, absolutely, and it makes perfect sense. Thanks Jackie.

      May 20, 2014
  21. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

    I wish I had a tenth of y’all’s talent! 😀

    May 20, 2014
    • 😀 I’m sure you do, we are so bad at judging ourselves.

      May 20, 2014
  22. I’m no judge but I always enjoy looking at your photography and I think they’re outstanding photos. I’ve never thought of entering a competition, but the thought is intriguing. Thanks for the info. If you enter these, hoping you win.. 🙂

    May 20, 2014
    • Thank you Peabea, on both counts, I am planning on entering the Bowness Prize, see how I go. Not sure what yet. I think I want to do my fine art architecture, so might have to take some new images for it.

      May 20, 2014
  23. There is a hard thing sometimes in entering a pictures into competitions and it is something I have been trying to do more this year. In the past I felt my work was never good enough as I have a slightly negative view of myself and work ( possibly i should talk to a professional about this). Although I have not won any as of yet it has been a good experience and the more competitions I enter the more people get to see my work and this is now my aim, not necessarily to win.

    May 20, 2014
    • You and me both Ben. I read your comment and it could be me, so interesting. I will do it too Ben. The exposure is always good. Thanks Ben, glad I am not the only one.

      May 20, 2014
  24. I came second in a local competition last year, the only one I’ve ever entered. I think you will do very well in the bigger ones, good luck!

    May 20, 2014
    • Congratulations Gypsy, sounds like you should be entering more. Thanks Gypsy, if I do any good I am sure you will hear about it.

      May 20, 2014
  25. I’ve entered a few local ones….and done quite well. I’ve had no joy in national comps though. Fairly recently I have discovered PhotoCrowd – which is an online competition site – it’s an interesting concept that works well.

    May 20, 2014
    • I suspect I will have the same experience with the national ones too Mark, but we have to try. Do you have a link to that Mark? Thanks.

      May 20, 2014
  26. I’ve done a few but stopped it all together when I found out that the jury panel was only ‘judging’ the submissions of friends etc… Not going to mention the name of this annual competition but it’s one which is regarded as one of the ‘best competitions’ in Northern America. So lucky that an insider friend in NYC provided me with some insight …. 😉

    May 20, 2014
    • That is really corrupt, I hate that sort of thing. You are lucky you were told. Definitely something to consider, thanks for sharing our experience Herman.

      May 20, 2014
  27. I have no experience about any competitions above, or any kind of writing competition really. But I really liked it when you pointed out that we should make sure we know what’s happening to our work when we submit them. Reading the fine print is very important. Sometimes when you submit an image, I’m not too sure if you get to retain the copyright for it, I could be entirely wrong, but hey, it’s a thought.

    Hope your week has been well so far. I have been so consumed with work lately, I hope I get time off soon 🙂

    May 20, 2014
    • It is very important to read the fine print, I can’t stress it enough. Some will do that, but if they do, then you shouldn’t enter those ones.

      It has been good so far, going away for a trip tomorrow, so I am excited about that. How is yours going? 🙂

      May 20, 2014
      • Good luck with the competitions, Leanne. Remember, so long as you’re happy with the fine print, you really have nothing to lose.

        The trip sounds great, I will be expecting lots of photos 😀 Not too bad, a bit stressful. I have to make a decision about work soon, what choice I make, it will be a win-lose situation.

        May 20, 2014
      • Thanks Mabel, I am okay about the fine print, and will see what happens, if I win anything I am sure I will let everyone know. 😀
        I am sure there will be lots of photos. I will see if I can do some instagram ones while I am there as well. Decisions are so hard, my daughter, when she has to make one just keeps badgering us until we make the decision for her. I hope you make the right one, good luck with it.

        May 21, 2014
  28. In the spirit of detachment and noncompetition, I don’t enter contests. It’s strictly a personal choice, and my choice would be inappropriate for many. If getting accpted in a “cut” for a prestigious prize spurs you on, or is good for your career, then great! Go for it. What I do have to say is that no one should ever feel badly about “losing” or not being accepted in any stage of a competition. I say that from experiences judging. Not judging photography, but various events at my 159-year old local Fair. Judging is an imprecise activity at best, and no two judges will bring the same set of preferences and biases to their judging. If you took the same judges, and the same entries, and repeated a competition after a week’s time, you’d get different results. Results in competitions are as dependent on who the judges are as on the works submitted to any competition.

    May 20, 2014
    • YOu have made some great points and I understand that comps aren’t for everyone. It certainly is imprecise and also very subjective. Thanks.

      May 20, 2014
  29. I like competitions. I belong to the Roswell Photographic Society. It’s a lot of fun and you learn a lot. Because of time, I have not participated this year. In fact I’m going tonight to check it out. The one thing to consider, is how the images are used after you enter them.

    May 20, 2014
    • Yes, someone else just said the same thing, it is important to find that out, most definitely. Thanks.

      May 20, 2014
  30. You’re photography is really creative and a pleasure to view, so please, have no doubt of whether or not it’s good enough to enter a competition. … I think all you can do is throw your hat in the ring and see what happens. … I don’t enter competitions because I have no technical background at all. I simply photograph by “feel” and I doubt that would win me many points. I took a photography course a long time ago and have thought about joining my local photography group. Who knows, maybe I’ll still do that, but life needs to sort itself out a bit more first. … Competitions like this are all so subjective anyway. It’s like judging a hunter show. Often the judge has already decided the horse/ride that’ll win before the class even starts. It’s up the others to prove they’re better. … My photography can be “Wow!” but I don’t think it’s “Wow!” enough to knock the established off the podium. Mine is a pleasure craft, and so be it. … But you, yes you definitely ought to do it if that’s what you feel you’d like to do and can find competitions you feel comfortable with. Do they do blind judging in any of these contests? i.e. the judge doesn’t see the names of the contestants until the winning image has been selected. That would make it more fair, wouldn’t it? … This comment is all over the map, but so are my feeling about competitions. Good luck whatever you decide. 🙂

    May 20, 2014
    • Thank you so much Dorothy. You never know really, for you too. They are very subject, very. Many comps here are like that, unfortunately you can’t hide styles, and while they might not see my name, I know many people who follow me say they know it is my image before they see the name. It is a hard one. Thanks again, and I will be entering some this month, for sure.

      May 20, 2014
  31. First, I agree that that “little voice in my head” is always there too. Regarding competitions specifically, I guess you need to understand what your intent is – to refine your skills or to become “known”? – My problem with them is at what point do you stop doing work for yourself and start shooting for the likes/taste of others? For me, rightly or wrongly, I have my style and I don’t want to be influenced by others into changing my style to win an award. Then again, I’m not trying to make a living with my photography.
    Best of luck Stacy and thanks Leanne for the post.

    May 20, 2014
    • That is interesting about the comps, it never occurred to me that I would have to start making work especially for them, I just thought I would find competitions that would suit the type of work I do. I am going to be rather picky about which ones I enter. There are a lot of them, but ultimately if my work isn’t accepted, then it won’t be for me. Thanks Robert.

      May 21, 2014
      • Yes, I think that your approach is better – see what fits your style – tailoring the competition to the entry – instead of vice-versa.

        May 21, 2014
      • Thanks Robert, I don’t think you should have to compromise when it comes to your work.

        May 21, 2014
  32. I’m slow on the uptake on this…I must’ve missed this earlier! I joined a camera club when I first started taking pictures and I was amazed at how many great photographers were there! Each week they had a professional come to critique the photos if we entered them.. They would put them up on a screen, not knowing whose photo it was, and then critique them. It was quite helpful sometimes depending on the person who was critiquing. Most were photographers for National Geographic or other popular photography magazines. The first time I went, my image won first prize which shocked me. Then it went downhill from there lol. I didn’t care for the club though because I was the youngest one there and no one wanted to talk with me. I don’t think I’m good enough to enter competitions online and honestly? I think I’m to the point where I don’t care. Maybe I’ll care in the future. I do care about improving and I do love the critique. I wonder if there are sites I can put photos to get expert critiquing without being in a competition.

    May 21, 2014
    • I think you hit the nail on the head with some of them, they can be quite snobby, and the more successful the club is, the more snobby they are. It is terrible really. I found the one I was in wasn’t very caring and sharing, they didn’t want to give away anything, then you might beat them in comps. Silly really. I think you just have to enter and see how you go Laura. Thanks.

      May 21, 2014
      • Yeah we were each to have a mentor and mine I guess liked the label of a mentor but she never acknowledged me in the class. So weird.

        May 21, 2014
      • Maybe she didn’t understand what a mentor really was, haha. That is very weird.

        May 21, 2014
      • I guess so! She wanted all the magnificent glory coming from mentoring me LMAO. yeah right!

        May 21, 2014
      • Yeah right, exactly, I hope you told them she wasn’t a good mentor.

        May 22, 2014
      • I actually did write an email. When I left the group, I got an email from the leader of the group asking me why I left. I explained the situation. Normally I would just let things like that go but I felt that they should know so future people weren’t “mentored” by her.

        May 22, 2014
      • I am so glad you did, they need to know these things. It would be horrible for her to be given someone else to Mentor.

        May 22, 2014
      • Agreed 🙂

        May 22, 2014
      • 🙂

        May 22, 2014
  33. Great gallery as always. I really like the little house and the ghost photo.
    When it comes to competitions I’m not active at all. I know Canon has some competitions for Canon users, but I never enter them.
    Some competitions is more about making a profit than it is about photography, because you have to pay to enter them – I never do that.
    And some, like you mention, is all about getting votes, so they’re really more of a popularity contest than they’re photo contests.

    May 21, 2014
    • Thank you Cardinal.
      I don’t mind paying to enter, but they have to be ones that I think will be good for my work and me. I am very picky about which ones I will enter.
      That is true, I never bother with the popularity ones. Thanks for you thoughts Cardinal.

      May 21, 2014
  34. great article Leanne. I have entered a few local ones here. I have gotten a couple of prizes which was a lovely feeling. I don’t like the ones friends vote on much…never ever win those. I recently joined a FB Photography group which runs a challenge every month. I love the support other photographers give you on it and feel this might be a way to hone in on ones that could be entered elsewhere. if you want to take a look: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EPChallenges/

    May 21, 2014
    • Thanks Jo, I don’t like the popularity ones, they don’t say anything about your work really. Sounds like the FB one is a good one for many people, thanks for including the link.

      May 21, 2014
      • No the popularity ones do not. Judged ones can also be hard though…it is all very subjective isn’t it ? Like you said…you need to study the judges to find out what they like.

        May 21, 2014
      • Very subjective Jo.

        May 21, 2014
  35. Interesting an thought provoking post Leanne!

    I have been taking photos all my life but only recently paid more attention to certain aspects of it – and out of 100 photos perhaps one is good enough in my eyes to be shown to family and friends and so far only the odd one I would consider entering in a competition – but just like you said – fear is holding me back and also the fees some charge for the privilege.

    I did enter a general art competition last year, not with a photo but with one of my woven pieces but this was the first year they opened that one up to general artists – not just painters and sculptors and clearly that showed – they did not present my piece the way I wanted and did not even get the description right – spelling mistakes all over the place… needless to say nobody got the idea of what it meant to be and I was utterly disappointed and angry at the ignorance.

    So it is good advise to check who are the judges and also clearly read the fine print… with a photo most people see something different in them than the person who took it – so it is hard to see what the judges at a competition will see in it – but it may be a good start for a great career if that is what one wants…

    May 21, 2014
    • Comps can be so hard and you have to be so careful about which ones you enter. That is terrible what happened to you. It would be like entering a photo and they show it upside down.
      Thanks, sorry hurrying here, I’m on my way out for the day, off to take photos of an old gold mining town.

      May 21, 2014
  36. Very interesting opinion. I’ve started wondering about competitions as well, but haven’t really looked into any of them yet. Thanks for the post… definitely food for thought.

    May 21, 2014
    • I think it is worthwhile, definitely for me, I am way past the point of where I should be entering them, You’re welcome Shane.

      May 21, 2014
  37. I really enjoyed the post, and especially enjoyed the photos you included. They are remarkable! Great work.

    May 21, 2014
  38. ViewBug! Run by professional people, photography competitions for all levels and about different themes, positive feedback. Wiould recommentd this to everybody!

    May 21, 2014
    • Someone else suggested that too Ingrid, two recommendations, it must be good. Thanks for this.

      May 21, 2014
  39. I’m glad I found this post, Leanne. I have only just joined a camera club a few months ago. Quite daunting to listening to experienced members talking ‘shop’, so to speak. I have not as yet entered a photo as I am still trying to get my head around the rules and regulations. However, I did sit in on one monthly competition and listened to the judge, to use your phrase, ‘smash’ photos which I thought were great shots. The following week I delicately asked if anyone else disagreed with the judge. My question was met with great chuckles as apparently it is not unusual to enter the same photo and get opposite opinions of it from the judge. Even thoughh I love some of the photos I have taken over the years, when it comes to entering competitions that voice is very loud in my head also.

    May 22, 2014
    • Camera clubs are tricky things, you have to be careful and make sure you don’t join one that is full of egos. Sometimes people can really nasty and they say things behind your back. I haven’t had good experiences with them. I should do one of these up for discussion posts on them. Good luck with it.

      May 22, 2014
  40. poppytump #

    I do hope you’ve got your photos entered Leanne 😉
    It is a confidence issue i’m sure nothing like getting knocked down or back by those with super inflated egos . I tried our local camera club once but to be honest I got the feeling it was a man’s club and although BB came with me no one apart from the guy who gave a leaflet at the door spoke to us :-/ Not returned needless to say .

    May 23, 2014
    • I haven’t yet, but I will do it this week.
      I think it is too, I think there comes a point where you just have to do it, and I think I am there. Camera clubs can be like that, and because they tend to compete with one another, there is a competitive thing there and no one wants to tell anyone anything, certainly no sharing. And why would you go back, it is silly really.

      May 23, 2014
  41. Your images are beautiful !!!!
    I was a bit put off contests for awhile but now I have am over that. The last few contests I have entered were a great experience. You are correct at times with the not so proper folks in charge a camera club can be a brutal place.
    Good luck Leanne!

    May 23, 2014
    • Thank you. I am sure I will find them good experiences too, and I know it may take a while to get anywhere, but I am okay with that too. Camera clubs can be a shocker. I will need to do a post on them I think. Thanks again.

      May 23, 2014
  42. With my picture book writing, I made the decision to only enter competitions that offered some feedback. I figure if I’m paying to enter I want to get something out of it too. Sometimes the feedback is very useful and at other times it’s quite general but it’s good to hear what someone else thinks.

    May 23, 2014
    • I don’t know about any photography comps that offer that, and I am not sure that I really want to know, haha, I like my work, and I suppose I feel confident to enter it. I think I might just go for it, see what happens. Thanks Carol.

      May 23, 2014
  43. I did submit some pictures to some photo contests. I did it mainly to try to improve my photography, kind of have an idea of “how good my craft is”. See if what I like is also liked by my peers. I have yet to win any photo competition. But I did manage to submit an entry that “elicited vivid discussions among the members of the jury”, so I take that as a good thing 🙂

    May 23, 2014
    • That is a good thing, I think I want to know the same, see if what I am doing is really considered any good. I think I have to start finding out. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

      May 24, 2014
  44. Really interesting. Before now, I’ve gone through the same I’m not good enough thing to the extent that I’ve not entered anything. Perhaps I will now.

    May 25, 2014
    • I think we both should Richard, I’m going to enter one this week. I hope you find one to enter as well.

      May 25, 2014

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