Photo Contest Tips

Simon Smith 03/02/2012 3



Photo Contest Tips that really help

In the past, I’ve organised, run, managed and judged many photo contests, and this has given me a great insight, and some of which I’m about to share with you.

This is not a tutorial on how to produce a winning photo, there are plenty of those around the internet, so I thought I’d share something different with you, and tell you why so many photos are rejected at the first stage from photo contests, and why many entries fail to impress the judges.

Get insight in to what the judges are looking for and learn how to avoid the mistakes many entrants make which in turn will give you an immediate advantage.


1. Photo requirements and specifications are a major factor, most contests will have a set criteria that you need to meet. See the list below for examples.

a. The size of the photo is quite common, some contests require that the photo be a certain size or within a range, they may also require that the file size does not exceed a specific amount, so making sure you size your photo correctly will ensure your entry is not rejected at the first stage.

b. You need to pay close attention to any rules regarding modification, some contests are very specific about what you may and may not edit. Some will only permit you to modify colour balance and exposure, crop or resize the photo, some will permit full modifications, and others will not permit any at all. What ever they stipulate, make sure you adhere to this.

c. Keep a close eye for the format they require. Some competitions have specific rules on the format of your entry, be it film, digital. be it printed or submitted by email or whether it’s JPG – Tiff.

d. Some contests will permit you to enter one photo only, but others allow you to enter multiple photos, if you’ve read all the details relating to the competition you could find out that you can submit as many entries as you wish, this can increase your chances of winning, so look out for this one.

2. If the competition you are entering has a theme, make sure you understand exactly what it is the judges are looking for. Themed competitions will normally have a brief, which if read fully, could give you clues and information as to what the judges are looking for. Now, although the best advise would be to follow the theme exactly, you shouldn’t let this dilute your creativity, and stop you from producing something unique, so the advice here is to read the brief fully and keep within the boundaries of the theme.

3. Eligibility, make sure you are eligible to enter the competition, check to see if there are any age restrictions, or if you have to be from a specific geographic location and check for experience, some contests are only open to professional or amateur photographers. Our Photo Contest Finder Tool will help you to locate contests that you are eligible to enter.

4. Terms and conditions (T & C’s) , who reads them? not many at all. Why would you? They can be long and boring, but, this is one of the main reasons entries are disqualified even before the judges have seen them. Terms and Conditions contain important information regarding your entry in to the competitions, and they should inform you of your rights and what you are giving them in return. You never know, but by entering the competition you could be giving them the keys to your home, so make sure you read the terms and conditions fully, and if you don’t understand something, contact the organiser and ask for clarification or seek legal advice.

5. When your photo was taken can also be an important factor for having your entry accepted. Some contests have time restrictions, such as, the photo must have been taken within the last two years, so make sure you follow their rule on time restrictions

6. If there are judges in the competition, and they are named, then give yourself an advantage and do a little research on each of them, find out what they like and what they dislike, this can be used to identify if your entry would appeal to them.

7. Choosing your entry should be based on the tips above and you should always submit your best work. Make sure it is strong in composition, exposure and focus. Try different perspectives and angles and don’t be afraid to break the compositional rules from time to time.

8. It’s always a good idea to seek others advice before entering a competition, maybe use some of the many photo forums around the net to get critique and feedback, or if you prefer ask family and friends their view on your photo, but remember they may be biased, so I’d recommend the former.

The most important thing about entering photo contests is to enjoy the process and enter as many as you can to improve your chances further.






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  • jackswan

    Hi Simon,
    Thanks for these tips. There is quite a bit of homework and spadewort to do before one can even consider entering a photograph for a competition.
    Jack

  • sully204

    Great information!
    thank you
    Sully

  • ZURIT1234

    It all makes very good senses .As they say practice makes perfect .I also find You- tube also a great informative medium .
    Regards Martin Thanks