Photography competitions...

StephenM

I know a Blithering Idiot
Messages
3,378
Name
Stephen
Edit My Images
Yes
#2
Yes, once. A company one. Edit to add: sometime round 1980.
Because as I was known to be a photographer, I felt I should.
No.
 
Messages
1,038
Name
David
Edit My Images
No
#3
I've entered loads. I used to do the comps in the photo mags and then moved on to trade body comps - primarily the MPA and WPPI in the USA. I've been fortunate enough to have done quite well - something of which I'm very proud of, considering the calibre of who I was competing against.

I enter them because its fun, but its a good way of getting feedback from your peers. I've very much learnt from my mistakes. Furthermore its a confidence booster too.
 
Messages
82
Edit My Images
No
#5
I regularly enter competitions organised by the club I’m a member of, and they sometimes chose my stuff to represent them in interclub comps. My motivation is simply to improve my photography through getting considered critique from independent judges, and, in that I feel I have succeeded. My images now regularly get decent marks and favourable comments.

Is it worth it? I’d say so yes. I have never entered external competitions but am considering doing do now I feel more confident of my abilities. I’d say go for it if it’s something you’re thinking of doing.
 
Messages
842
Name
Gez
Edit My Images
No
#6
Entered the Taylor Wessing a few times quite a few years ago simply to try and get an inkjet print through as all entries were passed through London school of print for quality control....
Won Wanderlust once and another in final ten, won Thames festival competition when it was sponsored by ANA.......
Haven’t entered anything at all since then but enjoyed the challenge, obviously good to be judged in big competitions and the prizes were excellent.
All downhill since then.
 
Messages
4,031
Name
Terry
Edit My Images
Yes
#8
Entered the Lencarta monthly one once but they seem to have stopped them now.

First shoot with my studio lights and I got 2nd place.

Chuffed to b*****ks I was.
 
Messages
168
Name
David
Edit My Images
No
#9
I enter them all the time. Club competitions as well as national and international salons. I have been entering club competitions for nearly 40 years and (Certainly initially) provided excellent critiques which significantly accelerated my progress. National and international salons have enabled me to gain awards, measure progress and gain photographic distinctions. All of this gives strong motivation to go out and capture more images, try something new and to continue to develop. Just entered a salon in Frome & Wessex but about to enter a Nordic Super Circuit. Personally, I think competition is healthy and teaches you to deal with disappointment as well as success. By entering anything in life, you are risking failure but it is certainly worth it. International photography has emphasised just how similar photography is all round the world. If more people picked up a camera rather than a gun to do their shooting, we would have a more peaceful world.

Dave
 
Messages
15,254
Edit My Images
No
#10
I rarely enter competitions (other than the fun monthly one on AVForums) as I don't rate my own photography, that being said I have entered two with Olympus this year and bizarrely won them both. I only entered them as I really fancied the prizes and am glad I did, so it's giving me motivation to enter more.
 
Messages
6,349
Name
Robin
Edit My Images
Yes
#11
Have you ever entered one (or do so regularly)? If so, which?

What was your motivation?

Did you feel it was worth it?
I have never entered a photo competition.

Motivation would be according to what the prize being offered was. But also the feel-good factor if successful.

I would have to win a prize to think it was worth my time.

I have looked at competition entry rules but been put off when reading about some of the limitations, especially regarding such things as post-processing not being allowed and even cropping in some cases! As far as I am concerned the camera is just a first step tool for initially capturing an image and then whatever the author decides, or not, to do to develop that image is entirely valid and the final result is their expression or interpretation of what they originally saw.

Of course every single one of us is self-critical about our efforts - That's how we make progress - and feeds off constructive critique and encouraging praise. I avoid camera clubs as they tend to be populated by those who are very set in their ways and are over analytical - Then there are the internal politics! I learn more from looking at photos by people whose work I admire and aspire to. Going on trips with them also helps.

I have learnt a lot from being a member of this TalkPhotography forum.
 

sirch

Official Forum Numpty 2015
Messages
8,670
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#12
I've entered a few on here and for charity, none have offered a prize and I have entered either as a bit of fun or to give something to the charity. My main motivation has been to have fun and join in with a community activity, I know that my work is not “good enough” for anything that is judged by some set of photographic rules.
 
Messages
842
Name
Gez
Edit My Images
No
#13
I've entered a few on here and for charity, none have offered a prize and I have entered either as a bit of fun or to give something to the charity. My main motivation has been to have fun and join in with a community activity, I know that my work is not “good enough” for anything that is judged by some set of photographic rules.
I’m not sure where you would find a competition outside of camera clubs that are judged on a set of photographic rules and I’m pretty sure (or hopeful) that that doesn’t apply to most clubs these days either.
 
Messages
168
Name
David
Edit My Images
No
#14
Camera club competitions are not judged by a set of rules. To enter a competition whether club, national, international or commercial normally has a set of conditions of necessity. Dimensions, subject and any restrictions. I have never yet seen any competition rules that do not allow cropping. The most popular sections are open anyway so, as long as it is your own work and images, any postprocessing is allowed. In a few sections Nature and Travel there may be some restrictions. As far as judging is concerned, the normal stance is that the judge assumes that all images meet the criteria (that is up to the organisers) and they choose on the basis of what they think is a good image. Yes, it is subjective but national and international competitions will normally have 3 judges so personal preference may be diluted. Judges also receive training and can be promoted to a higher level based on experience and feedback. It is not a perfect system but a critique or even an award from a well qualified and experienced judge can be appreciated.

Dave
 

sirch

Official Forum Numpty 2015
Messages
8,670
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#15
I’m not really wanting to get into a debate about this but just for clarity when I said “rules” I wasn’t necessarily referring to anything written down for a specific competition, more the usual qualitative stuff, subject on thirds, no blown highlights or blocked shadows, level horizons, etc.
 
Messages
842
Name
Gez
Edit My Images
No
#16
Most I would imagine just want a good photograph that fits the brief, I doubt very much that winning would depend on strict adherence to thirds or any other arbitrary rule.... just a good image would probably suffice.
 
Messages
1,127
Edit My Images
No
#17
Yes, Landscape Photographer of the Year and Outdoor Photographer of the Year are the main ones for me. I’m lucky enough to have won a category and a sponsor prize in LPOTY and have also had a few other commendations in it and OPOTY. I don’t do photography for competition success but nothing focusses the mind to improve like competition. You need to be on your game to compete with the extremely talented photographers that enter, and if you do well it’s nice to have a little recognition and you will sell prints of your award winning picture, at least in my experience.
 
Messages
82
Edit My Images
No
#18
I’m not really wanting to get into a debate about this but just for clarity when I said “rules” I wasn’t necessarily referring to anything written down for a specific competition, more the usual qualitative stuff, subject on thirds, no blown highlights or blocked shadows, level horizons, etc.
Surely these things (apart from the thirds rule) are the essence of a technically correct image, and should be considered whenever you produce any image, regardless of what you're planning to do with it? I've seen many images which don't "obey" the rule of thirds but which are still adjudged to be good images (however one might define that).
 
Messages
3,533
Name
Nige
Edit My Images
No
#19
Surely these things (apart from the thirds rule) are the essence of a technically correct image, and should be considered whenever you produce any image, regardless of what you're planning to do with it? I've seen many images which don't "obey" the rule of thirds but which are still adjudged to be good images (however one might define that).
I suspect that many of the photographers and photographs that I greatly admire would fall flat under the gaze of a club judge. I bet if Henri Cartier-Bresson had entered his shot of the man jumping over the puddle, he'd have been criticised for not leaving enough room for him to move into or something.

I still enter club comps, but I have to tell myself it is nothing more than a bit of fun. Otherwise I will grind my teeth to dust.

Some judges are much better than others to be fair and offer considered criticism or rate more leftfield photos, but there are some of whom it feels like they're just going through the motions of checking the image conforms to some checklist of do's and don'ts.
 
Last edited:
Messages
13,380
Name
Toni
Edit My Images
No
#20
Some judges are much better than others to be fair and offer considered criticism or rate more leftfield photos, but there are some of whom it feels like they're just going through the motions of checking the image conforms to some checklist of do's and don'ts.
Judging can be tough. For several years I got 'invited' to judge the village produce show photo competition, and at times it could be difficult to find redeeming features in some of the images - being in focus was sometimes a good start. ;)
 

sirch

Official Forum Numpty 2015
Messages
8,670
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#23
Messages
4,566
Edit My Images
Yes
#24
Snip:
I bet if Henri Cartier-Bresson had entered his shot of the man jumping over the puddle, he'd have been criticised for not leaving enough room for him to move into or something.
I seem to recall Martin Parr once saying something along the lines of he didn't think a camera club would quite know what to make of his photos.

Put it this way, I have some of Martin Parr's photo books and I'm not a member of a camera club.
 
Messages
82
Edit My Images
No
#27
Snip:
I seem to recall Martin Parr once saying something along the lines of he didn't think a camera club would quite know what to make of his photos.

Put it this way, I have some of Martin Parr's photo books and I'm not a member of a camera club.
That’s true, but equally it would be true to say that the joy of photography to many is its ability to allow an “each to their own” approach.

Going back to OP’s question though, I remain a firm advocate of clubs and for their competitions. They provide a grass roots mechanism to allow people to gain useful critique on their work and thus try to improve. Even if, as has been commented on up thread, that means the judge pointing out that the subject isn’t in focus, that horizons should be level and that highlights should not be blown if possible. At my club we have all levels of photographer from the advanced and skilful, to the chap whose wife bought him a camera for his birthday and hasn’t a clue how it works. All gain something from competition critique and take better pictures as a result. A well structured league system allows people of equal experience and ability to compete against each other and everyone gains from the process.

Whether we agree with the critique offered is a whole other question, of course.
 

sirch

Official Forum Numpty 2015
Messages
8,670
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
Yes
#28
You either like competing and so have to put up with criticism. If not don’t enter
It's not concern over critique that is the issue, for me at least, it is that the need to judge, pick a winner and ultimately be able to justify why a selected image is a "winner" drives homogeneity amongst images. It’s easier to say this-beats-that based on sharpness, dynamic range, etc.

We are back to the art versus craft debate again...
 
Messages
2,602
Name
Allen
Edit My Images
Yes
#29
Some years ago I did and as the local club sean had regular judges you got to know who liked what ( George likes trains ) , So entered images accordingly

Not very sporting so I stoped entering ,
 

StephenM

I know a Blithering Idiot
Messages
3,378
Name
Stephen
Edit My Images
Yes
#32
Why does it have to be all about club competitions..... that’s just another canon/Nikon situation
Because photography is a competitive sport. :(

For some, anyway.
 
Messages
1,437
Edit My Images
No
#33
Clubs and competitions are fine for those who like clubs and competitions. I'm pretty sure that there's never been as much as 1% of people who take pictures regularly that belong to a club and/or enter competitions. I think if you include all the people who own a (for want of a better term) "proper camera" that drops to something like 0.001%.

This may or may not be wrong but please do your own research before telling me so. In the interest of full disclosure: I haven't... :naughty:
 
Messages
2,602
Name
Allen
Edit My Images
Yes
#34
Why does it have to be all about club competitions..... that’s just another canon/Nikon situation
OK who said its all about club comps ? I was just giving a personal experience
 

StephenM

I know a Blithering Idiot
Messages
3,378
Name
Stephen
Edit My Images
Yes
#35
I've looked at the programs of all the nearby clubs I could find two or three times (not this "season" I admit) and for all half or more of the meetings are competitions. "Nearby" means about a 15-20 mile radius. The saddest comment I ever heard from a competition devotee was that they liked them because they provided the only opportunity at the club to discuss photographs.
 
Messages
168
Name
David
Edit My Images
No
#36
My club is one of the largest and for our main weekly meetings between September and May, of the 37 meetings, 11 are competitions. The fact is that interesting speakers and competitions are the most popular with our members. We also have sub-groups, training and outings which amounts to about another 25-30 sessions which members can choose to attend. Half of our members never enter any competitions so there is plenty for those who do enter and for those who do not. Also a club is very much a social experience with people meeting people rather than on the end of a terminal.

Martin Parr is a documentary photographer and photojournalist which is one specific genre of photography. It is true that his work would not do well in an open category, creative, sport or nature but he would do well in travel and documentary.

I can understand that a judge may comment on blown highlights, out of focus etc. for inexperienced photographers but we would not normally see such work from our more advanced photographers so judges are more interested in what is being communicated, how original, composition balance etc. At my club, we only use A Stream judges which does mean we take judges from a far wider area thus increasing our costs but we think it is worth it. One of our members did mainly high key work and was very successful with judges and commercially. I personally found it vey difficult to achieve a high key style without it looking like a mistake. It was probably more to do with art and composition and she was very artistic. I have also entered intentionally blurred images and done well. I think an experienced judge is quite able to tell intentional from a mistake.

Dave
 
Messages
13,380
Name
Toni
Edit My Images
No
#37
Interestingly the photo got very few faves on flickr whilst others I entered (you could enter three) which had gone to explore did not place.
Always know your target 'market'. Flickr explore is not based on excellence, and neither is wide popularity. For social media, if you want the picture to be liked then the image needs to be striking, contrasty, bright & colourful to work at a small size in order to be noticed. If you want to impress nature photographers then those qualities are of lesser importance.
 
Messages
1,350
Name
David
Edit My Images
Yes
#38
Always know your target 'market'. Flickr explore is not based on excellence, and neither is wide popularity. For social media, if you want the picture to be liked then the image needs to be striking, contrasty, bright & colourful to work at a small size in order to be noticed. If you want to impress nature photographers then those qualities are of lesser importance.
To be honest I think it is more random than that, I think Flickr explore is just a bit arbitrary depending on how many people see your photo in the first place - which might vary depending on what your followers are doing and also how many other photos they are seeing etc.
For nature competitions judges seem to want different things from what I do.
I would have given this first prize for the insect week one for the under 18s
https://www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/gallery/public/100.JPG?itok=5xJmAqIP

and not the first prize winner
 
Messages
2,280
Edit My Images
No
#39
I entered club competitions for a couple of years to get feedback and to learn... sadly, not all judges are created equally so we have experienced some pretty poor critique. Whilst there are no 'rules' in photography, some judges are not able to respond to an image with anything other than a rote technical review. The worst one in recent times even said "urgh" followed by "that's all I have to say". So, if you enter competitions, you may well learn about your own image and others but, as has been pointed out here, you might end up grinding your teeth! One of my first attempts was an abstract based upon an Australian scribbly gum's bark. This particular judge announced that this could have been done by throwing something on the kitchen floor. :oops: :$ I have also entered a few salons but then was fortunate to find a gallery that wanted my work and has since offered me a solo show next summer [o my word, get a shift on!] so I don't do competitions any more. It's much easier to watch them then too :sneaky:
 
Messages
393
Name
Mike
Edit My Images
Yes
#40
When I started work, the social club had a photography section, who were holding a competition I had an old print that fitted the subject well so entered & won.
There was supposed to be a rolling display of 6 winners enlargements (payed for by the club) an the winners were supposed to get their print as a price after it was replaced.
The Photographic section folded after a few more competitions so I never got the print.

Our photographic workshop has held informal competitions in the past, a few of which had a token prize. The only advantage of these was getting me out taking photos for a specific theme outside of workshop hours. We eventually decided the effort of choosing a winner was more than the exercise was worth, so it's been dropped.
 
Top