How to Win a Photo Contest – Tips and Tricks

8 March 2017


How to Win a Photo Contest – Tips and Tricks

Winning a prestigious photo contest is a dream of many amateur and professional photographers. In our guide, we show you, in a few steps, how to do it.

It can take years to succeed and develop your own brand in photography. Painstaking work and publishing hundreds of photos is not always enough. That is why taking part in photo competitions is worthwhile. Sometimes, just one winning contest can change everything!

Greatest photo contests give you the opportunity to test and compare your skills to the best photographers around the globe. Winning the competition gives you the chance to develop your career as a photographer, gain fame, and become recognizable. Moreover, taking part in photo contests will help you build a valuable CV. Without a doubt, competing in and winning online competitions is worthwhile.

How do you win a photo contest?

Read our guide and maximize your chances! Succeed in the world of photography.

Formal Requirements

This is often overlooked, but it is very important that you meet formal requirements when submitting pictures to the contest. The most important is to fulfill all the objectives of the organizer; otherwise, your application may be rejected in the initial phase.

Remember! Note:
1.
Comply with formal requirements and specifications, such as photo size and file format (jpg, png, etc.).
2. Check if the organizer requires a specific file naming convention, for example: forename_name, forename_name_category, etc.
3. Check what level of photo modification in graphics programs is acceptable. There are competitions where modifications are not allowed at all. Some photo contests allow you to make a small correction, such as color, balance, and cropping. Additionally, there are online contests where the approach to digital art is very open.
4. Carefully check if the competition is intended only for a specific type of photography, such as only black and white pictures, only analog pictures, etc.
5. Some competitions define the time frame, for example: photos no older than three years, only photos taken the current year, etc.
6. Sometimes, the number of photos allowed is limited. Check exactly how many pictures or series can be added.
7. Check if the contest is aimed at specific groups of photographers. Ensure that you can take part in the competition by reviewing contestant requirements, such as nationaltiy, age, etc.

Theme

There are many types of photo competitions. Contests are diverse in terms of techniques and categories. Choosing types of competition and category are the most important points in the course of planning your application. Precisely adjust your photo to be suitable for the type of competition and appropriate category!

Read Official Rules/Terms and Conditions!

A big effect on your success is the competition’s official rules. In the terms and conditions, you can find specific tips regarding deadlines, quantity of photos, and other formalities. Study the official rules of the photo contest carefully. Understanding the rules from the very beginning gives you a huge advantage over other competitors. Check, point by point, what you can and cannot do. Learn what exactly will attract judges’ attention while evaluating submitted photos. Find out what the prize amount is and what kind of support the winners of the competition will get.

Always Submit Your Best Photos

Pay attention to the unique approach to the subject. Remember that jurors have thousands of photos to evaluate, and you have only a moment to draw their attention to your work. Try to find among all your photos the one that captures your eyes and represents something original, unobvious, or unexpected. The perfect picture for the contest should intrigue with its composition and play of light. Your photo has to shout and clearly show its superiority over the rest of the work.

Browse the Galleries from Previous Contests

This lesson cannot be missed! Visit contest galleries from previous years. If possible, order the winners catalogs. Study the work of winning photographers and their techniques carefully. Consider what caught the attention and interested the jurors. Browsing the gallery will let you know the level of competition, and you will gain knowledge about the type of photos the judges are looking for.

Idea, Originality, and Execution

These are three words that must scream from your photo. There are many ideas for photos and series of photos. Search for inspiration among your closest surroundings, in nature, at events, or on the Internet. Try to tell an interesting story. But remember that finding an original idea is not everything. What also matters is the unique presentation of your idea and technical execution. Pay attention to the composition. Follow the rule of thirds, but do not be afraid to experiment. There are many ways to catch the attention of the jury by using the frame. Look for new ways to present the picture. Remember all characteristics mentioned above when submitting each your photos to the contest. Do not forget that the quality of the picture is most signifficant. If the jurors hesitate between two pictures, they will choose the one that is sharper and clearer. Your photo must be immaculate!

Get to Know Your Judges

Before submitting photos to the competition, you need to know the work of the jury. Find out what is important in their art. Get to know their workshop and techniques they use. Consider it as a lesson. Knowledge about people who will evaluate your work can significantly increase your chances to win by giving them exactly what they are looking for.

Not Only Do the Winners Matter!

Not everyone can win. Often, only one vote decides the winner. When you decide to take part in photo competition, note if honorable mention will be given. All honorable mentioned can count on promotion, a place in the post-contest gallery, and publishing in newspapers or online magazines. This will significantly increase your chance to capture the audience’s attention.

Be Persistent yet Patient

Photography is a passion, but often, it’s also a way to earn money. Be persistent! Work on the workshop. Browse and analyze the winners galleries of prestigious competitions. Grow as an artist and improve your skills. Blur the line between amateur and professional. Set the goal of winning the competition and strive for it. Every year, send photos to at least a few contests. Experiment with the categories. It is possible that one of them will feel much better than others. Find your niche. Specialize in a particular technique.

Good luck!