What to Focus on When You Enter a Photography Competition

Posted on: 29th March 2013

Photography CompetitionThe photographer’s ultimate goal is to capture an image that inspires a response in the people who see it; laughter, love, anger. One of the best ways to gain recognition as a photographer is by entering photo competitions. Unfortunately, most people end up making the same mistake each time.


We’ve put together some top tips to increase your chances of winning your next photo competition.


Follow the rules


Competition promoters put rules in place for a reason. Most competitions receive hundreds of entries, so they use rules to make judging them- and more efficient. Rules like image size limits, entry date requirements, model release requests and entry forms are the ones that get broken most frequently. Even if your photograph is excellent, the judges will dump your photograph without a second glance if you don’t follow the rules.


Stick to the topic


You won’t win a bicycle photography competition by entering a superb snap of a motor bike. You have to enter a photo that fits the theme of the competition. Some competition themes are open to interpretation, such as ‘happy’, ‘funny’ and ‘sad’. On the other hand, some competitions have far more concrete themes: such as ‘kids’, ‘blue’ and ‘water’. It doesn’t matter how utterly awesome your image is, you won’t win if it’s off topic.


Keep your focus


One of the easiest ways to lose out in a photo competition is to enter a picture that is out of focus. Soft focus may enhancs some pictures, however photographs that look like blurry blobs will never win a competition.


Before you submit your entry, take an honest look at your photo. While the memories of your cat sleeping on your laptop keyboard may seem precious and witty to you, the out of focus shot will not be precious to anyone else. They are not judging based on your memories. This doesn’t mean your photo should be super sharp but do make sure it’s of a high quality.


Size does matter


Bigger is always better: when it’s part of the rules, that is. If the contest you plan on entering allows images up to 8X10 in size, then it‘s only fitting that you enter an 8X10 image and not a smaller one. Photography is a visual art, and smaller images don’t

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size up when judgement day arrives.



Look at previous entries


If the competition that you are entering has been held before, or has been judged by the same set of people, fire up Google and find out what previous winning shots looked like. Judges have their own preference: they are human, of course. Some will prefer photojournalism images and others go for artistry. Each competition and each judge has its own preference. If no one has won the competition in the past, do some research on the judges and the sort of work they’re into.


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