I just Googled “Photography contests,” and got so many links, I really couldn’t believe it. For those of you who read Red Dog News, you know that we cover many of the calls for entry: World Photography Gala Awards, Art of Photography Now, fotoblur, Santa Fe Workshops, Vermont Photo Workplace, Photography Center Northwest, Lightbox Photographic Gallery, SOHO Photo, and that’s just in the current issue! There are so many, I can only assume that it is a difficult choice to make when trying to decide which contest to enter.
What is your criteria for entering these contests?
• Satisfying a Dare
No matter your choice from the above selections, I have a few suggestions to make that just might enable you to make an informed choice.
If you are considering entering a call for entry (CFE), and you have no idea who the judges are, just do a search on them. If there are no responses, you might want to take another look at that contest. Most jurors can be found somewhere in cyber-space. If you discover that the juror(s) are doing this for the first time, be sure to find out in which area they have the most expertise. Just because Bill Smith (pseudonym) is jurying the contest you want to enter doesn’t make him an authority. By the same token, however, Carol Lombard (pseudonym) has been jurying contests for so long, she takes naps during the jurying process. My suggestion is to do your homework and find out as much as you can about the jurors. Ask your friends. Email someone you met at a workshop.
The value of the awards is a good tape measure for the quality of the venue. If the value of the awards would barely cover your metro fare, then you can tell that the host of the contests hasn’t worked very hard at getting prizes. If a cash award won’t even cover your postage, you may have to think about this contest. An award should be enough (cash) to at least cover your basic expenses for entering and framing. Physical awards should go far in advancing your photographic career, be it a printer, software, equipment, etc. Unless the contest is for a good cause, the value of the prizes should make you say, “These guys (or gals) are serious about this!”
Everyone has to start somewhere. If the contest you are entering is their first, and you want to add to your entry experience, go ahead and enter. But if you have to keep emailing and asking for clarification of their rules and entry process, then… this may not be the one for you. Just as I suggested, above, do some homework. The time you spend in research, could be the difference between a good decision and tossing fifty bucks out the window! There are way too many contests out there that are good, for you to waste an inordinate amount of time trying to figure if the one you want to enter is good enough for your photographic treasures.
I don’t enter many contests, but when I do I want to be sure the CFE has appropriate value. I also want to make sure that an exhibition for the winners is assured. If accepted, will this add to your CV in a positive manner? Do you know anyone else who is entering the CFE? If you can go to the host organization’s website, take a look around. If it takes you forever to get to the page you want, that might be an example of their ability to run a photography contest.
If you are just starting out in your photography career, it really won’t hurt you to enter as many CFEs as you can. The bottom line is that the more you enter, the more experience you get in seeing what juroirs like, how each entry process works, and how to package your entries.
If you have any qyestions about calls for entry email me and I will try to answer your questions. So, take a chance, pick a few of your best mages and send them in! Good luck!