not to submit

Photo Contests - To Submit or Not to Submit

We as photographers know there is absolutely no shortage of photo contests out there on the web, in magazines and newspapers for us to enter. Our work will be judged by random strangers and our peers in order to gain recognition and in some cases even compete for prizes and monetary gifts. The question is, which contest(s) are right for you.

Submitting your work into contests can be a great thing for photographers depending on who or which publication(s) are running them. Some of them will charge a fee per image submission and some are free to enter. It could mean great exposure for you, it just depends on what you are looking to gain through the process. I think it is a great way to start to get your name out there. Helps you get used to hearing the word “no”, accepting rejection and will give you some insight into what judges are looking for in an award winning image.

I have only ever entered into free photo contests which will not really earn you any money or prizes but I earned experience as there have been a few lessons learned along the way. A couple of times I didn’t carefully read the rules and disclaimers and this mistake cost me my artistic integrity by way of losing control and ownership of MY OWN images. One in particular that I entered, I did not win anything but by not reading everything and agreeing to enter, I gave them the right to use my work in any future instances they felt was applicable for their needs and there wasn’t anything I could do to prevent it. I have heard of other photographers that have submitted images and by doing so they gave over exclusivity rights to the companies which means the magazine has full ownership of the work and you cannot use those particular images for display or contests or sale anywhere else.

I can only hope that you learn from my mistakes in reading this post. I cannot stress enough, the importance of reading the fine print before you check that little “I agree” box and hit the submit button.

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