16
Jul

Are You:

* A professional photographer?

* An amateur photography enthusiast?

* Someone with a camera and a creative mind?


Yes, photo contests are for just about anyone. Unlike poetry or cooking contests (where there’s a definite level of skill involved) almost anyone can start taking pictures with a camera. Digital cameras are getting better and better and many people can take great photographs with little training.


Why Enter Photo Contests?

The prizes range from small cash prizes to major prizes that include professional photography equipment, photo software (PhotoShop sells for over $600) and several of the larger photo contests give away HUGE travel prizes. Apart from winning prizes, you also get a chance to develop your own real-world portfolio and depending on the contest, a win (or even a good finish!) can help launch your photo career.


You will:

* Showcase your photography skills

* Be judged by experts and critics (even peers) in your field

* Win amazing prize packages

* Get published on-line or in some of the most prestigious photo magazines in the world.


How To Get Started:

There are three basic divisions of photo contests. The first level is appropriate for amateurs who just want to have fun. They are judged on the content of the photo vs. the skill of the photographer. The second level is appropriate to amateur photographers at the begging and intermediate skill levels who are learning to take good photos. The third level is for intermediate to advanced amateurs and professional photographers who want to build a portfolio and maybe win equipment or prizes to advance their careers.


If you are a rank amateur who just wants to have fun, there are loads of what I call “anything goes” contests. Baby photo contests, cute pet contests and many contests run by product companies or websites. The photos are judged based on the content rather than the content plus skill level.


If you are a beginning or intermediate level amateur photographer you will probably want to start with the smaller, on-going contests. On-going contests normally have regular weekly or monthly themes and deadlines. These contests are free or cheap to enter and their prizes are small or involve “just the glory of being a winner.” What you will get is good feedback from fellow photographers, allowing you to grow your skill levels in a friendly environment. Your peers often judge your photos, so you can see what kind of impact your photos make on your viewers.


As your skill levels increase, start looking for contests sponsored by the camera and software companies and by the photography magazines. Some of these are very inexpensive to enter, such as PhotoLife Magazine’s bi-monthly reader contest. Others are huge, international contests, with hefty fees and giant prize packages. These are the contests that can create a very solid photography career for you!


Here are a few things to watch for:

* Make sure that you read the terms & conditions of participating in each contest. There are some contests in which you forfeit your copyright to your photo / work just by registering in the contest. What’s the point of showcasing your work if you legally sign it over to someone else? So make sure you read the terms.

* Follow the instructions. This cannot be over-emphasized.

* Enter in the best category for your photos. (scenic beauty, human form, travel photos, etc.)

* Read the fine print. Many contest organizations won’t return your entry, so don’t send them original material.

* Many contests place a limit to the number of entries you can submit, you will get disqualified if you send more.

* Read the definition of amateur or professional to be sure you qualify.


Entering photography contests can be a very rewarding hobby that can pay off big time. Challenge yourself to get out every week and learn something new about using your camera and some new concept or technique to improve your work. Then enter, enter, enter … until you WIN!

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