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Why You Should Enter Photography Competitions

I try to impress upon my students how helpful viewing and entering photographs in competitions can be. When subjects and topics are provided – the sky is the limit – and you have the ability to become as creative as you wish.

Competitions dictate to us the subject or topic of a photograph. This means you are able to view the photographs and decide for yourself if you “see” the subject or topic. This is a great exercise which helps you develop your photographic and creative eye. You can also look at the photograph critically to see what you would do differently. Would you have shoot from another angle? Would you have made the photograph B/W or kept in color? Would you have taken a completely different photograph all together? Would you have used depth-of-field differently?

Entering competitions gives us a chance to showcase our best and get feedback which helps you grow as a photographer. Having others look at your work and provide you with constructive feedback helps you correct mistakes you may not know are making. Are you using a bokah affect too much? Could you have cropped a tad tighter? Would a different orientation made your subject stand out more?

Why enter competitions and contests when is subjective? You build a photographer vocabulary as you critique photographs and have yours critiqued as well. You learn to say “This photograph has powerful lighting which really highlights your subject.” instead of saying “Cool lighting!”. You learn to say “The depth of field really shows the details in your subject.” instead of saying “WOW! Look at all the pollen in the center of that flower!”. “You did a great job emphasizing the subject with those foreground elements.” sounds much better than “What a beautiful picture!”.

Whether viewing or participating, competitions help you improve your photography. Critiquing others and having others critique you helps refine your eye and therefore, improve your compositions.

Another advantage of viewing and entering competitions is to learn about and meet new photographers. Interacting with other photographers gives you a chance to compare your work to other photographers which is another way of helping you to develop your creative eye. Colloborating with other photographers will also stimulate your creativity by giving you a forum to discuss ideas, techniques, and skills.

Finally, remember, the ultimate goal in participating in photography contests is not to win…. although that is a great benefit!! Enter contests to learn, expand your skills, and have fun!

Simple Tips for a Successful Photography Contest

  • Identify your objectives.

To start with, identify the reason why you want to come up with a photo contest. No matter what your purpose may be, put it in writing and include metrics that will monitor your progress.

For example, if you want to boost traffic, consider the number of visitors and page views as your main metrics. However, if you plan to develop an engaged community, your key metrics are the amount of registrations, uploaded photos and actions such as likes and comments.

  • Give what people want.

People join contents to win prizes. Therefore, to encourage them to participate, reward the winning photographer accordingly. Prices do not have to cost a lot. They can come in the form of gift cards, discounts or as simple as an acknowledgement. As an example, you can feature the winner’s picture on your homepage even as you benefit from their content.

  • Make it smart.

Define your contest with this practical acronym, which stands for the following:

Specific: Describe the contest rules in details, including its duration and the way to notify the winner. Choose a catchy contest theme and make sure that photos are related to the theme. This should be easy to understand so that there won’t be any random photos.

Measurable: Identify the way a winner is selected (number of votes, views or panel selection) and make sure that the rules are understood from the start. According to experience, the best way to boost traffic and engagement is through votes among social networks.

Attainable: Since anyone can take photos, more people can participate. So, make sure that your user base has a lot of people who can participate. Moreover, avoid too many restrictions with regards to submission terms.

Relevant: The prize should be something valuable and worthy of the contestant’s effort. Make sure that the prize is directly related to your products or services.

Time: The contest should take place within a specified timeframe. People get easily bored or lose interest when contests take too long. The most ideal duration to encourage more contestants is two weeks.

  • Awake the Creativity of Your Viewers

People can be very creative with their camera, a Photoshop edit or an app grain. Photography contests let participants go beyond their limits when there are less restrictions imposed on them. For instance, when your contest is sponsored and participants are supposed to take photos of a product, do not add to the limitations. In case you are planning to launch your products, you can let contestants design the poster to advertise them. You will be amazed with the ingenuity of some contestants.

  • Make it Viral

The world of social media makes it simple to share photos. Your contest can benefit from the use of social media tools. When you let people vote, for example, they can share their submission with contacts and increase the quantity of referrals and activities about your contest.

One more way to benefit from social networks is to let potential contestants contribute from them, such as uploading a photo from Tumblr or Facebook. This makes the submission procedure easier, as well as allows participants to note down the submission on every feed.