Tips for Entering Photo Contests

Have you ever thought about entering photo contest? If you are an aspiring photographer, this is a good thing to try. Why? Because you have to really concentrate on the “perfect photo” to win. Can you win if you don’t know the rules of composition? Is that even important? Yes and yes!

My friend and I were asked to judge photographs for a state fair once. That was a real experience. About 100 or so photos were entered, and we had to pick the first-, second- third-place winners, plus two honorable mentions. My friend and I talked about what to look for before we even saw any entries. The number-one thing we were looking for was good composition. I can tell you right off, even if we didn’t know the rules of composition, it wouldn’t matter. The winning photos belonged to photographers who used the rules of composition correctly.

photo contest entry tips

Photo by Ray Hennessy

Knowing what you need to get a winning photo, here are some key ideas to help you win:

Know what the topic is and don’t deviate from it. If the contest is on stray cats, then only take photos of stray cats. Don’t take pictures of your cat in the alley.

Know the deadline for entries. If you know the deadline, you have time to figure out how to take the best photo of the main subject.

photo contest entry tips

Photo by Léa Dubedout

Make sure you fully understand the rules of composition. Ninety-five per cent of the time, a well composed photo will be the winner of any given photo contest.

Read through the rules of the contest. Many times, these sponsors use your photo for advertising or to benefit their cause another way. Are you willing to not be the exclusive owner of your image anymore?

If you work on your image in post-production—by using Photoshop or Lightroom, for example—make sure that will be accepted. Many of these contests want only natural-looking photos.

Does your photo tell a story? I have found that winning photos tell a story, or bring out emotion for the viewer.

Can you accept defeat? You are going up against hundreds, maybe thousands of other contestants. With a thousand competitors, your chance of winning is one in 1,000.

If you don’t win at this contest, try again. There are hundreds of photo contests every year.

Some contests may require you to pay a fee to enter. That is done so that they don’t pay for shipping, and they may actually pay staff to take care of this job.

Photo contests are very rewarding—not only for your ego, but for your photographic career as well. Your name will be published worldwide, if it is that type of contest. If you are nervous about going for the big ones, then start with local county fairs and city-wide competitions. I was surprised to find so many quality photos in the local fair from 2019.

Another way to practice taking award winning photos is to join a Facebook group that specializes in quality photo entries. I have seen all kinds of Facebook groups, and have even started one group of my own. If you are interested in sharing your photos, and having other photographers comment on them, then please feel free to visit it.

The group is by invitation-only, for photographers who want a place to practice showing off their photos.

About the Author:
Lanny Cottrell has been involved in teaching photography for over 25 years. He has worked as the manager of a photo store in Utah, and now has started to do the things he loves the most, like training photographers to be the best they can be.

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One response to “Tips for Entering Photo Contests”

  1. Ahh thanks for this. I’ve been thinking about entering contests for a while, but was unsure if it was the right thing to do, and what measures to take to enter properly.

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