Why enter photo competitions?
As photographers, most of our journeys are about evolution. We always start somewhere, and grow to where we think we want to be. It is nice to aspire to be at the top of your niche, and be inspired by so many other artists in the industry to try and get there! There are quite a few prestigious photography awards competitions every year, of which I have had the pleasure of entering and placing in on a few occasions. It is always such an honor to be recognized in an industry in which we are surrounded by thousands of talented artists! Entering photography competitions also serves to push us forward and keep us on our toes in terms of our own evolution as artists.
The awards competitions…
This year I entered WPPI, WPE, and the Portrait Masters awards competitions. I was extremely honored to have received a few awards for my work. WPPI is a prestigious print competition that takes place every year in Las Vegas. The judges here are not only looking at your image but at your PRINTED work. They do not air their judging live, but if you are lucky enough to be present, you can hear the critique while the judges score your work! With my submissions this year I placed 3 printed works into the gallery display after the scoring with silver awards! It was so amazing to see my images on the big awards screen and on display!
WPE is an online competition that is extremely difficult, and it was the first time I submitted work this year- they do provide some notes for improvement, which I did enjoy!
The Portrait Masters…
Finally, Portrait Masters is an accreditation awards competition that I have entered a few times over the last few years. It is extremely difficult to score above bronze level and there are thousands of entries per season. This year I finally received an elusive Silver and placed two images in the top 20 in various categories! I always put more entries into this competition, perhaps because I’ve just been doing it longer. These are awarded at four different levels, Bronze, Bronze with Distinction, Silver, and Gold. To save space, I’ve only put my Bronze with Distinction and Silver here.
Some things to consider…
However, like any competition, these are not for the faint of heart. As artists, we know that the interpretation of any art piece is in the eye of the beholder. Any piece of art has to move its viewer. Along with this, the technical aspects of an image are equally important. Posing, lighting, editing, composition, color harmony and toning. It is fun to submit images to these awards and wait impatiently to see how they score. What is not fun, is getting a lower result than you anticipate. But, this should always be used as a learning experience, a point to further grow and develop your skills. I have often submitted something I thought was brilliant, but then am knocked down a peg or two once the results are in, and noticed a few things I hadn’t before.
Could this have been more symmetrical? Could the body have been shaped more? Is there too much empty space? Does the expression speak to the viewer? One thing that seems to be a common sore point among judges- CAN WE SEE TOO MUCH OF THE BACK OF THE HANDS? This one is so easy to overlook. Of course, this is us guessing as to the issues as most competitions do not actually tell you what the potential issues could be. They just hand you a score.
In conclusion… do you need to be an award winning photographer?
It is nice to enter these competitions for sure- but it is not a measure of what your worth is to your clients. If you are creating gorgeous artwork that your clients love- ultimately, that is what matters. Having awards and being recognized for your work is a really nice bonus though!
You can look into some of the more serious competitions here: