Entering and winning photographic competitions can be a highly lucrative business if you take it seriously. Every year photography magazines alone give away many thousands of pounds/dollars worth of prizes. If you add that to the prizes offered by other magazines and organizations the figure is well into six figures, and someone has to win.
Secrets to success:
* Read the rules! There is no point putting lots of effort into shooting an entry if it doesn't fit the brief.
* Come up with something original, so it stands out, and only enter your best work.
* You may ignore your first ideas, though, because they're probably too obvious, and wait until you feel you have something really original.
* Only enter competitions that appeal to you, so you have a passion for the subject.
* Shoot pictures specifically for a competition and start working on ideas as far in advance as possible.
* Use impact. Here are a few simple forms of impact that work well at catching the eye - colour, shape, expression and humour.
* Your images should be well exposed, composed and in focus.
With some of the photography magazines you can enter competitions that are spread over several months, so if you flop in one category you have the chance to catch up in subsequent months and still clinch the overall prize.
You may stand a better chance of victory if you enter photo competitions run by non-photographic magazines, simply because the standard of entry tends to be lower. So always keep an eye out for them.
Rules to watch out for!
Most competitions are honourable. That is they seek to improve the standard of photography by giving prizes and/or recognition to photographers. For that reason, rules often contain a clause regarding the use of the winning photographs, such as displaying the winning pictures without further payment to the photographer. Please note the part that says winning pictures. Winning photographers are usually awarded a material prize as payment-in-kind for the use of the picture in a limited fashion. This should not affect copyright which should always remain with the photographer.
Avoid competitions where you may lose copyright of your images. Fortunately these are few and far between but mistakes have been made in the past. The use of pictures submitted to competitions can lead to exploitation of photographers by some organisers. This is because all too often competitions may have rules that include phrases like '... we reserve the right to use ALL images submitted...' If an image isn't good enough to win a prize but is good enough to be used to promote the competition or any other use by the competition organisers then the photographer should be paid for use of the image! This may only be a token amount but it should be paid and copyright of the image acknowledged to the photographer.
Enter some competitions and you stand a good chance of making a name for yourself and winning some great prizes. Good luck!