Hello, everyone. This article is for Lynne, who asked me about photography competitions the other day. There is so much to be said about this topic, much of it not my own, so I will be directing you here and there for the best advice.
First, though, your best source of information about local photography competitions is your local art council/gallery/nature organization/and the like. When you join the organization, sign up for the newsletter and they will alert you to all competitions of interest. I really urge you to join these organizations because with budget cuts galore from the federal to the state to the local level, they are all starving for funds. That being said, some may have free publications to which you can subscribe.
Secondly, there are several “lists” online that will alert you to competitions, but you have to join them, and sometimes joining may cost a few pennies or more to get the best information. Here are some that I know about:
- The Art List
- Proof Positive, Photo Contests
- Photo Compete
- Photography Competitions
- Photo Competitions
- Photography Contest News
If you know about others please let us know.
Very few contests listed are free to enter. You can expect to pay from $10 to $35 and perhaps more, for the privilege of entering one or more of your images. Remember, too, that although some contests, particularly those run by magazines are conducted totally on-line, in an actual exhibition you will also be responsible for printing, framing and shipping your item to the show’s venue. So, this is not a cheap venture.
You also need to so some careful research before you spend your hard-earned money on a competition or two. Most importantly, be sure the sponsors are legitimate and that by entering you are not giving up the rights to your photos. Read the fine print…VERY CAREFULLY…before you give someone else the right to claim your image for their own purposes.
I have read a few really good articles about entering competitions and urge you to read them for yourself. Together they give a very good overview of the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself before you enter a juried competition and will give you a flavor for what happens behind the scenes.
- Art Show.Com — Helpful Tips for Entering Art Shows, Juried Exhibitions & Competitions for Artists.
- Annie Strack — Judge and Jury: What to Expect When Entering Art Shows
- M. Stephen Doherty — Advice from an art competition judge
- Alyson B. Stanfield — Assessing Juried Art Exhibit Opportunities, Part 1
- Alyson B. Stanfield — Assessing Juried Art Exhibit Opportunities, Part 2
- Matthew Daub (in Professional Artist) — Juried Shows From the Inside Out
As for me, I enjoy the recognition these contests have given me. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about how my art is perceived and evaluated out there in the big world and how that relates to my own intentions. Not always the same thing to be sure! So, if you decide to go this route, be prepared for many failures and hopefully some wonderful successes. Good luck and be sure to share your news with us. And don’t forget to smile: spring is almost here!