If you have survived the withering critiques of DCC judges, then it’s time to look beyond and explore the world of photographic competition. If you have a special subject you love to photograph and want to explore other opportunities for showing off your work, then you should look beyond our club competitions to spread your wings. Many of our club members have entered outside contests and have done well. Below are a few tips for entering contests.
Choose a Contest and Note the Deadline for Entries
Make a plan. Choose a contest to enter. Know the categories and note the deadline for entries. If possible, check the contest’s website for previous winners. This will give you an idea of what types of images have done well. Select the images you feel will do well and submit them. However, do not be afraid to step outside the box. Images with powerful impact do not always follow general composition conventions. If you do not have images, then plan photo excursions to develop images for the contest. If you miss a current entry deadline, you can begin to develop a portfolio for the next competition cycle. While doing this, you will get some great images for our club competitions!
Read the Fine Print about Copyright
Read the fine print of the entry rules. Most local and smaller contests have no fine print. Your photograph will be judged based on the technical and artistic qualities of your photograph and the copyright remains with you. It is not uncommon for the sponsor to reserve the right to use your photograph for its own purposes without compensation to you; but, you remain the owner of the copyright. Be advised, however, there are a few contests that assume copyright ownership when you enter even if you do not place. This means that your picture can only be a private collection photograph for you. Read the fine print carefully. You can then decide if the terms of the contest are acceptable to you. Again, the good news is that many contests have no fine print and are fun to enter!
Note what Post Processing (Corrections/Alterations) are Allowed
Read the entry rules about allowed photo corrections. Fine art competitions rarely have restrictions because these images are photographic art. Nature and wildlife competitions almost always have standard optimization rules. If you have a great nature shot and you feel you need to clone out sections and/or other image altering processing, then the image becomes an “art” photo which is appropriate to enter in local or general competitions. There are a few nature competitions with a category for digitally altered images.
Print competitions rarely require that you print the image yourself. It can be printed at a lab. Many of the print competitions require a print size that can be printed on a small format printer. Learning to print your own images gives you much more creative power and flexibility. Most inexpensive printers (the $79-$99 major brands) do excellent printing and will achieve winning results. Some people find learning how to get the monitor and printer to agree to be a formidable task; but, once you master it, and you will master it, you will be glad you did. Any DCC member who prints will be glad to help you. Just ask!
There are literally thousands of photography contests each year. There are local, state, national, and international contests. Numerous magazines offer monthly and/or yearly contests. Major camera manufactures and major companies sponsor competition. Local civic groups use photography contests to promote art and/or raise money. The opportunities are limitless. Watch the newsletter for contest ideas. If you plan to visit a festival, or a specific location, check its website for a possible contest. When you search the internet, a good search method is to enter "photo contests 2011" or "photo contests nature 2011" etc. Be sure to include the current year or you will pull up past contests as well as current.