Photography Contests

10 Steps for Successfully Entering a Photography Competition

Are you ready to showcase your photography skills and compete with other talented photographers? Entering a photography competition can be a great way to gain recognition, build your portfolio, and even win some exciting prizes. But where do you start? In this article, we’ll guide you through the 10 essential steps for successfully entering a photography competition. From choosing the right competition to preparing your submission, we’ll cover everything you need to know to increase your chances of success. So, grab your camera, and let’s get started!

Step 1: Research the Competition

Find the Right Contests to Enter

  • Consider the theme or subject matter of the competition
  • Look for contests that have a high value of prizes and recognition
  • Research the background and history of the competition, including the organizers and sponsors
  • Check if the competition is open to international participants or not
  • Consider the entry fees and if it is worth it for you to enter
  • Look for contests that align with your style and expertise
  • Check the competition’s reputation and past winners
  • Consider the level of competition and your chances of winning
  • Look for contests that are well-organized and have clear rules and guidelines
  • Check the deadline and make sure you have enough time to prepare your entry.

Understand the Rules and Requirements

Researching the competition is the first and most crucial step towards successfully entering a photography competition. It is important to understand the rules and requirements to ensure that your photos meet the necessary criteria. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Read the guidelines carefully: Take the time to read the guidelines thoroughly to ensure that you understand the rules and requirements. Pay attention to details such as entry fees, deadlines, and submission requirements.
  • Pay attention to entry fees: Most competitions charge an entry fee, which can vary depending on the competition. Ensure that you are aware of the fee and budget accordingly.
  • Deadlines: Deadlines are important, and it is crucial to submit your photos before the deadline. Ensure that you submit your photos on time to avoid disqualification.
  • Submission requirements: Pay attention to the submission requirements, such as image size, resolution, and file format. Ensure that your photos meet the technical specifications to avoid disqualification.

By following these guidelines, you will be able to understand the rules and requirements of the competition, and increase your chances of success.

Step 2: Select Your Best Work

Key takeaway: To increase your chances of success in a photography competition, it is important to research the competition, select your best work, prepare your submission, promote your entry, follow the competition, and stay motivated. By doing these steps, you can improve your chances of winning the competition.

Curate a Strong Portfolio

  • Choose your best and most relevant photos: When selecting your photos for the competition, it’s important to choose your best and most relevant work. Consider the theme and style of the competition, and select photos that fit within those parameters. You should also consider the technical aspects of the photos, such as exposure, composition, and focus.
  • Create a cohesive portfolio that tells a story: A strong portfolio should be more than just a collection of individual photos. It should be a cohesive body of work that tells a story or conveys a particular message. Think about the overall mood or tone you want to convey, and select photos that work well together to create a strong visual narrative.
  • Consider the theme and style of the competition: The theme and style of the competition should also play a role in your selection process. If the competition is focused on a particular subject or style, such as nature photography or street photography, make sure that your photos align with those parameters. This will help increase your chances of winning the competition and making a strong impression on the judges.

Edit and Enhance Your Images

Editing and enhancing your images is a crucial step in the process of entering a photography competition. Here are some tips to help you improve the technical quality of your photos and correct any flaws or imperfections:

  1. Remove distractions: Before you start editing your photos, take a look at them and try to identify any distractions that might be present. This could be anything from a piece of lint on the lens to a person walking into the frame. If you have a distraction in your photo, try to remove it using Photoshop or another editing software.
  2. Adjust the exposure: Exposure is one of the most important elements of photography, and it’s easy to get wrong. If your photo is too dark or too light, you can adjust the exposure using your editing software. This will help to make your photo look more balanced and professional.
  3. Correct the white balance: White balance is another important element of photography, and it can be easily adjusted using your editing software. If your photo has a blue or yellow cast, you can adjust the white balance to make it look more natural.
  4. Adjust the colors: If you’re not happy with the colors in your photo, you can adjust them using your editing software. This could involve adjusting the saturation, hue, or contrast of your photo.
  5. Add contrast: Adding contrast to your photo can help to make it look more dynamic and interesting. You can do this by adjusting the contrast slider in your editing software.
  6. Adjust the brightness and contrast: Brightness and contrast are two important elements of photography, and they can be adjusted using your editing software. If your photo is too dark or too bright, you can adjust the brightness and contrast sliders to make it look more balanced.
  7. Sharpen your images: If your photos are looking a bit soft, you can sharpen them using your editing software. This will help to make your photos look more crisp and professional.
  8. Remove noise: Noise can be a common problem in low-light photography, and it can be removed using your editing software. If your photo has a lot of noise, you can use a noise reduction tool to help clean it up.
  9. Straighten your photos: If your photo is slightly tilted, you can straighten it using your editing software. This will help to make your photo look more professional and balanced.
  10. Save your work: Finally, once you’ve finished editing your photos, be sure to save your work. This will help to ensure that your changes are not lost if you need to make further adjustments later on.

Step 3: Prepare Your Submission

Create a Compelling Entry

  • Write a captivating artist statement

An artist statement is a brief, yet powerful tool that allows photographers to express their vision, inspiration, and creative process. When writing an artist statement, it’s important to focus on the following key elements:

  1. Introduce yourself: Start by briefly introducing yourself and your background as a photographer. Explain what draws you to photography and what you hope to achieve through your work.
  2. Define your style: Describe your photographic style and what sets your work apart from others. Discuss the techniques, equipment, or techniques you use to create your unique visual language.
  3. Discuss your inspiration: Explain the sources of inspiration for your work. This could include other photographers, artistic movements, or personal experiences.
  4. Show your creative vision: Share your creative vision and the message you hope to convey through your photographs. Explain how you use your camera to capture the world around you and express your ideas.

  5. Include a brief description of each photo

When submitting your photographs to a competition, it’s important to provide a brief description of each image. This allows the judges to understand the context and significance of your work. In your photo descriptions, consider including the following information:

  1. Title: Give your photo a title that accurately reflects its content and theme.
  2. Location: Describe where the photo was taken and any unique features of the location.
  3. Subject: Identify the main subject of the photo and explain its significance.
  4. Composition: Discuss the composition of the photo, including the use of light, color, and form.
  5. Technique: Explain any technical aspects of the photo, such as the camera settings or post-processing techniques used.

  6. Show the story behind your work

When entering a photography competition, it’s important to convey the story behind your work. This allows the judges to understand the context and significance of your photographs. To show the story behind your work, consider the following:

  1. Theme: Identify the theme or message you hope to convey through your photographs.
  2. Series: If your work is part of a series, explain how the individual images contribute to the overall narrative.
  3. Context: Provide context for your photographs by discussing the time and place in which they were taken.
  4. Inspiration: Explain the sources of inspiration for your work and how they influenced your creative process.
  5. Intent: Share your intentions as a photographer and how you hope to impact your audience through your work.

Submit Your Entry

When submitting your entry, it is important to follow the submission process carefully. Most competitions will have a specific set of rules and guidelines that you must adhere to in order to be considered for the competition. These rules may include size and format requirements for your images, as well as any other specific requirements for your submission.

In addition to following the submission process, it is important to make sure that you meet the deadline for submissions. Many competitions have strict deadlines, and entries that are submitted after the deadline may not be considered. Be sure to check the deadline and plan accordingly to ensure that you have enough time to prepare and submit your entry.

Before submitting your entry, it is also important to proofread your statement and captions. Your statement should provide context for your images and explain the thought process behind your photography. Your captions should provide information about the specific image, such as the location and equipment used.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your entry is complete and meets all of the requirements for the competition. This will increase your chances of being selected as a finalist and ultimately winning the competition.

Step 4: Promote Your Entry

Utilize Social Media

Sharing your entry on social media platforms is a great way to increase visibility and reach a wider audience. Here are some tips to make the most of this promotional strategy:

  • Choose the right platforms: Identify the social media platforms that are most popular among photographers and photography enthusiasts. For example, Instagram is a great platform for showcasing visual content like photography.
  • Create a compelling post: Write a captivating caption that highlights the unique aspects of your entry and why it deserves to win. Use high-quality images and ensure that the lighting, composition, and subject matter are all top-notch.
  • Use relevant hashtags: Research and use relevant hashtags that are commonly used by photographers and photography enthusiasts. This will help your post reach a targeted audience and increase the chances of it being discovered by judges and other photographers.
  • Engage with the photography community: Join photography groups and participate in discussions to build relationships and establish yourself as a credible and knowledgeable photographer. This can also help increase visibility for your entry and attract votes.

By utilizing social media effectively, you can increase the chances of your entry being discovered and gaining support from the photography community.

Network with Other Photographers

Networking with other photographers is a crucial aspect of promoting your entry and gaining valuable feedback. By connecting with fellow photographers, you can gain insight into their experiences, learn from their successes and failures, and receive constructive criticism on your own work.

Here are some ways to network with other photographers:

  1. Attend photography events and workshops: Photography events and workshops are great opportunities to meet and connect with other photographers. You can attend photography festivals, exhibitions, and trade shows to meet industry professionals, learn about new techniques and trends, and showcase your work.
  2. Connect with other photographers online: Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are great tools for connecting with other photographers. You can follow other photographers, share your work, and engage in discussions and debates on photography-related topics.
  3. Join photography groups and forums: Joining photography groups and forums is a great way to connect with other photographers and gain feedback on your work. You can join online photography communities such as Flickr, Google+, and Reddit to share your work, participate in discussions, and receive feedback from other photographers.
  4. Share your work and get feedback: Once you have connected with other photographers, it’s important to share your work and receive feedback. You can share your images on social media, photography websites, and online communities to receive feedback from other photographers. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to improve your work.

Overall, networking with other photographers is a great way to promote your entry and gain valuable feedback. By connecting with other photographers, you can learn from their experiences, gain insight into the industry, and improve your own work.

Step 5: Follow the Competition

Stay Informed

  1. Follow the competition’s social media accounts:
    • Subscribe to the competition’s official Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts.
    • Keep track of updates and announcements related to the competition.
    • Engage with the competition’s content by liking, commenting, or sharing posts.
  2. Read updates and announcements:
    • Regularly check the competition’s website or social media pages for new information.
    • Pay attention to important dates, such as submission deadlines, announcement dates, and award ceremonies.
    • Be aware of any changes to the competition rules or guidelines.
  3. Keep track of the competition schedule:
    • Note down important dates, such as the submission deadline, notification date, and award ceremony date.
    • Plan your time accordingly to ensure you meet the submission deadline.
    • Stay organized by creating a schedule or to-do list to keep track of your progress.

By following these steps, you can stay informed about the competition and ensure that you don’t miss any important updates or announcements.

Learn from the Judges and Winners

Learning from the judges and winners of a photography competition can be a valuable way to improve your own photography skills. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Study the work of the judges: The judges of a photography competition are often experienced photographers themselves. By studying their work, you can gain insight into the type of photography that is valued by the competition. This can help you to understand what type of photographs are more likely to be successful and give you ideas for your own photography.
  • Analyze the winning entries: By analyzing the winning entries in a photography competition, you can learn from the techniques and styles used by the winners. Look at the composition, lighting, subject matter, and other elements that make the photographs successful. This can give you ideas for your own photography and help you to understand what judges are looking for in a winning entry.
  • Learn from the winners: In addition to analyzing the winning entries, you can also learn from the winners themselves. Many photographers are willing to share their techniques and tips with others. Look for interviews or articles about the winners and see what you can learn from their experiences. You can also reach out to the winners directly and ask for advice or feedback on your own photography.

Step 6: Prepare for Possibilities

Handle Feedback and Criticism

As you embark on your photography competition journey, it’s crucial to develop a growth mindset that enables you to handle feedback and criticism constructively. This approach will help you learn from the experience, allowing you to refine your skills and improve your chances of success. Here’s how to handle feedback and criticism effectively:

  1. Be open to constructive criticism: Embrace the opportunity to learn from industry professionals and fellow photographers. By maintaining a receptive attitude, you’ll be better equipped to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to your photography practice.
  2. Learn from the feedback you receive: Dive deep into the feedback provided and identify the key takeaways. Reflect on how you can apply this knowledge to your future work, ensuring that you’re constantly evolving and growing as a photographer.
  3. Use it to improve your photography skills: Feedback and criticism serve as valuable resources for personal and professional growth. Implement the insights gained from the judges’ comments to refine your technical abilities, creative vision, and overall photography practice.

By adopting a positive attitude towards feedback and criticism, you’ll be better positioned to benefit from the constructive insights shared by judges and peers. This mindset will ultimately contribute to your development as a photographer and increase your chances of success in photography competitions.

Stay Motivated

Celebrating your accomplishments is a crucial aspect of staying motivated in the world of photography competitions. Take time to acknowledge the effort and dedication you have put into your work, and give yourself credit for the achievements you have made. Whether you win an award or simply receive positive feedback from the judges, it’s important to recognize and appreciate these victories.

Additionally, continue to learn and grow as a photographer. Keep exploring new techniques, experimenting with different styles, and seeking out new sources of inspiration. By staying curious and open to new ideas, you will continue to develop your skills and push the boundaries of your creativity.

Finally, stay inspired and motivated for future competitions. Surround yourself with other photographers who share your passion and drive, and seek out opportunities to collaborate and learn from one another. Attend workshops, join photography clubs, and participate in online forums to connect with others who share your interests. By staying connected to the photography community, you will stay motivated and inspired to continue creating great work.

Step 7: Attend the Awards Ceremony

Celebrate Your Success

When you receive an invitation to attend the awards ceremony, it is a chance to celebrate your success and mingle with other photographers and judges. This is a great opportunity to:

  • Network with other photographers: Meet and interact with other photographers who share the same passion for photography. You can exchange ideas, discuss techniques, and gain inspiration from their work.
  • Gain insights from the judges: Engage in conversations with the judges to learn more about their perspective on photography and what they look for in award-winning photographs. This feedback can be valuable in helping you improve your future submissions.
  • Showcase your work: Display your winning photographs to a wider audience, and allow the judges and other photographers to appreciate your work in person.
  • Build relationships: Establish connections with fellow photographers and judges, which can lead to potential collaborations, mentorship, or even friendships.
  • Enjoy the recognition: Embrace the moment and celebrate your achievement. Being recognized for your hard work and dedication to photography is a significant accomplishment that should be cherished.

Attending the awards ceremony can provide a memorable experience and a chance to further develop your skills as a photographer. Make the most of this opportunity to connect with others, gain valuable feedback, and celebrate your success.

Learn from the Experience

Observe the Presentation of Awards

The awards ceremony is an excellent opportunity to observe how the judges present the awards and how they discuss the winning entries. Pay attention to the language they use when describing the winning photographs and take note of the specific aspects of the images that they highlight. This can give you valuable insight into what the judges are looking for in a winning photograph and help you understand the criteria they use to make their decisions.

Take Note of the Winning Entries

As you attend the awards ceremony, take note of the winning entries. Study the photographs and try to identify the common themes or elements that appear in the winning images. Look for patterns in the composition, subject matter, lighting, and other technical aspects of the photographs. This can help you understand what kind of photographs tend to win in the competition and give you ideas for your future submissions.

Analyze the Factors That Contributed to Their Success

Finally, analyze the factors that contributed to the success of the winning entries. Consider the creative vision, technical expertise, and storytelling abilities of the photographers. Identify the specific techniques they used to capture their images and how they were able to convey their message through their photographs. By analyzing the winning entries, you can gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to create successful photographs and how to improve your own work.

Step 8: Share Your Experience

Write a Blog Post or Article

Reasons to Write a Blog Post or Article

  • Share your experience with others
  • Offer tips and advice for future competitors
  • Showcase your work and the recognition you received

Tips for Writing a Successful Blog Post or Article

  • Start with an engaging introduction that shares your personal journey in photography and why you decided to participate in the competition
  • Highlight the key elements of the competition, such as the theme, entry requirements, and judging criteria
  • Share your experience of the competition process, including any challenges you faced and how you overcame them
  • Offer practical tips and advice for future competitors, such as how to choose the right image, how to prepare your entry, and how to handle rejection
  • Provide insights into the judging process and what judges look for in a winning entry
  • Discuss the recognition you received and how it has impacted your career or personal growth as a photographer
  • End with a call to action, encouraging readers to participate in the competition and share their own experiences

Additional Considerations

  • Keep the tone of the blog post or article conversational and approachable, avoiding technical jargon or complex language
  • Use visuals, such as images or infographics, to illustrate key points and enhance the reader’s experience
  • Share the blog post or article on social media and other relevant platforms to reach a wider audience
  • Consider including a disclaimer or disclosure statement if the competition organizers have provided any incentives or compensation for your participation

By following these tips and guidelines, you can create a blog post or article that shares your experience, offers valuable insights, and encourages others to participate in the competition.

Share Your Story on Social Media

When it comes to sharing your experience on social media, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, post updates and behind-the-scenes content leading up to the competition to build excitement and generate interest. This could include photos of your preparation process, equipment setup, or any other relevant details that give your followers a glimpse into your creative process.

Additionally, be sure to share your photos and the competition experience once it’s over. This could include images of your winning shots, as well as any personal anecdotes or stories that help to contextualize your work. Remember to also engage with your followers and the broader photography community by responding to comments, asking for feedback, and sharing the work of others.

Here are some specific tips for effectively sharing your story on social media:

  • Use high-quality images that showcase your work and tell a compelling story.
  • Use hashtags to increase visibility and reach a wider audience.
  • Be authentic and transparent in your posts, sharing both your successes and any challenges you faced along the way.
  • Be responsive to comments and messages, building a strong connection with your followers and the broader photography community.

By following these tips and sharing your story on social media, you can build a strong online presence and increase your chances of success in future photography competitions.


1. What is a photography competition?

A photography competition is a contest where photographers submit their photographs for evaluation and judging by a panel of experts or public voting. These competitions are usually themed and can offer prizes, recognition, and exposure for the winners.

2. How do I find photography competitions?

You can find photography competitions by searching online, checking photography websites, magazines, and social media groups. You can also ask fellow photographers or photography clubs for recommendations.

3. How do I choose the right competition for me?

Consider the theme, prizes, and prestige of the competition. Also, research the judges and their preferences to determine if it aligns with your style and goals. Look for competitions that fit your skill level and experience.

4. What are the requirements for entering a competition?

Requirements vary per competition, but generally, you need to submit your photographs according to the competition’s guidelines, pay an entry fee (if applicable), and provide a brief description of your work.

5. How do I prepare my photographs for submission?

Resize and optimize your images for web use, ensure they are well-lit, and avoid watermarks. Create a strong, cohesive body of work that aligns with the competition’s theme.

6. How many photographs can I submit?

Most competitions have a limit on the number of entries per person. Check the competition’s rules to confirm the limit.

7. How do I submit my photographs?

Submission methods vary. Some competitions require physical prints, while others accept digital submissions via email or an online platform. Follow the competition’s instructions carefully.

8. What is the entry fee and is it refundable?

Entry fees vary per competition, and some may offer refunds if your work is selected for exhibition or inclusion in a book. Check the competition’s guidelines for details.

9. When is the deadline for submissions?

Deadlines vary per competition, so check the guidelines and submit your work on time.

10. What happens after I submit my photographs?

After submission, wait for the competition results. Winners are usually announced on the competition’s website or social media channels. If you are selected, prepare your work for exhibition or publication according to the competition’s instructions.

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