Tips for entering and winning photo contests

I recently won the First Place Price in the National Parks Foundation Photo Contest.  The winning photo was taken at Zion National Park, Watchman Campground.  In fact, the photo was taken very near my campsite.

Flowing water over rocks in the Virgin River, Golden sunrise in the background

It’s important to read all of the contest entry rules before submitting. ©Kit Frost

I wrote a few short blogs recently with examples of entries into photo contests, and gallery exhibitions. A few of those examples won the contests. And with a little help from my friends, are hanging in galleries too.

I thought it would be helpful to share my process of selecting images, the research involved, the rules and requirements, the jurying process to have your photos exhibited online, and at galleries. Additionally, keep in mind the cost of matting and framing if required. many online submissions simply require a login, and fee, and a jpeg of high quality. Galleries, once accepted, require that you ship, or hand-deliver your artwork ready to hang.

Start with concentrating on the theme of the contest.

  1. What is the contest about?
  2. What kind of theme is the gallery showing in its call for entries.
  3. Are you submitting an idea for a one or two person exhibition, or for a specific call for entries?
  4. Are entries free, or do you pay per image, is the contest a fund raiser?
  5. Read the fine print, find out the size restrictions for your online submission.
  6. Read carefully to see who is the final judge of your entry, fans? Favorites, a juror, a group of other artists (jury).
  7. Galleries will often have open calls a few times a year, either juried by the owner, or a guest juror. Find out what you can about the juror’s own work. But remember, most exhibitions are a collection of images meant to be shown as a whole, so I’m often surprised at the final selections.
  8. Black and white or color?
  9. Digital capture or film? Yes, we still use film!

Choose carefully

Here’s where I enlist the help from my social networks, especially facebook.
Often the image i think is the strongest representation of the theme, rates 2nd or 3rd when I put it up for a fan vote on facebook. I think I get really attached to one image over another, based on how challenging it was for me to capture it. It helps to back off from that, post a handful of possible picks and see what my peeps think. Another cool thing about sharing and asking for help is that my followers and friends feel involved in the process and celebrate with me.

Take a look at these online contests.

  1. Share the experience, the grand prize is $15,000. plus seeing you image on the Annual Federal Recreation Lands pass.
  2. Nikon Inspirations, Zoom and Telephoto, the current theme.
  3. The Nikon Everyday Cinema contest
  4. Cafe, For Artists, is an online registry and call for entires all over the world.  Login, upload your portfolio images, be sure you are uploading the correct sizes, then apply to calls.  You will be charged when you submit to calls that are not free.  Higher end management system for artists who what to show our work, apply to Artist in Residence programs.

Next blog:  Winning entries.

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