photo contests

Shows, Contests and Magazines - Is It About The Money or The Art?

I am sure that many artists alike can relate to this post as this has probably happened to quite a few of you, at one time or another.

What I am referring to is being contacted through e-mail or by phone by art show organizers, magazines or people running art contests. Now I realize that all of these people mentioned are trying to run a business just as we all are. They need to make money to sustain said business and this is where we the artists come in.

It can be mutually beneficial for the artist as well as the people pursuing the artists. The contests and magazines which are out there are on a similar plane in terms of whether or not the cost to enter these contests or have your images grace the pages of magazines are worth the possible exposure you gain from it. For the artists, if the show they are being asked to participate in is a well known event in the art world, this presents ample opportunity to showcase work, make connections and network. The flipside to it is these shows can be costly to participate in, therefore the trade off of cost vs. exposure had better be worth it for the artist. A lot of this exposure comes at a cost, which isn’t cheap.

The first thought that enters my head EVERY time I receive one of these e-mails is “are these people just looking for money to fill their booth space, or page layouts?” I then have to take a step back, do some investigating in terms of researching the company or magazine or person contacting me. I need to gather all the information possible, perhaps even reach out to other artists to find out if they have heard of or participated in the contest, show or magazine. Then and only then can I make an informed decision on how to proceed. Of course let’s not forget about the bank account which will also dictate whether the opportunity is feasible.

I only have a limited amount of experience with this type of thing but I do know this though, it pays off to do your research so you don’t end up in a situation where you have shelled out money for this type of venture and you end up with a bad taste in your mouth because it didn’t work out the way you had thought or planned.

As I stated in the beginning of my post, these shows, contests and magazines can be incredibly lucrative for an artist in terms of financial gain and more importantly, exposure. I cannot stress to you all enough, the importance of being diligent in doing your research before you hand over your hard earned money or sign anything!

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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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