More tips for entering and winning photo contests

Yes, I know, a gallery submission is not the same as a “contest”.  But I want to catch your attention.  If you want to enter your art work, 2-D work, photographs, paintings, in exhibitions, I think you will find some of this blog info helpful in getting your work shown.

Start with knowing the theme of the contest

I use a site called “Cafe”,  An online resource where opportunities are posted for submissions for exhibits, competitions, residencies, Here is the basic call for entries for an upcoming competition, with cash awards.  As you can see, there’s a fee involved, and by charging a fee I bet the reviewers have far less to choose from, and the quality often goes up in juried shows.

Call Type: CompetitionsEligibility: NationalCity: SpringfieldState: OregonFee: $35.00 (Emerald Art Center: Emerald Spring Exhibition for 2 Images)Entry Deadline: 3/8/14Days remaining to deadline: 81

The Emerald Art Center announces their 9th annual Emerald Spring Exhibition 2014, a fine art painting competition with $5,000 plus in Cash Awards. Best of Show $1,500; Gold Medal $1,000; Silver Medal $700; Bronze $500 and others to be announced. This exhibition was conceived to recognize and reward excellence in fine art from all over the United States. The exhibition will include approximately 70 artworks and will be presented at the Emerald Art Center and Gallery in Springfield, Oregon. Exhibition dates April 30 – May 30, 2014. Juried by Eileen Sorg. 

It’s clear to me that as a photographer, this is not a competition I would enter.  But how about you fine art painters out there?

Another site I like to check on is Outdoor Photographer, there are contests highlighted on the site like the American Landscape Annual photo contest, and the Nature’s Colors Photo Contest.   What I like about these contests is they post the winners and the finalists, a good way to see what’s out there and what’s winning.

Some contests are voted on my the fans, while other contests have a jury who selects the winners. For a recent contest, sponsored by the National Parks Foundation, we were asked to submit images of the National Parks, Summer Scrapbook, themes such as Sunrise/Sunset, Landscape, Wildlife, Water, Family Fun in the parks.  One of my images won for 2013 Summer Scrapbook.  The contest drew lots of voters, as all of us passed on the link to our social networks for voting.

Are you submitting an idea for a one or two person exhibition, or for a specific call for entries?

In Durango, at the Durango Arts Center, we have many opportunities to show work.  A few of the exhibitions are juried, while others are members’ submissions.  And a yearly call for two person exhibitions, artists working in all mediums enter a collection of images for possible inclusion in the next year’s exhibition calendar.

Here’s a call for entries, the 4 Corners Commission: Journey Stories

4 Corners Commission: Journey Stories
January 10–February 1
Opening reception: Friday, January 10 from 5-7 p.m.

DAC’s first juried exhibition of the year. The exhibit theme focuses on incorporating stories of migration, transplantation, moving, and “choosing a new life.” This exhibit is in collaboration with the Animas Museum’s exhibit: Journey Stories. Journey Stories is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Colorado Humanities on display at the Animas Museum, January 17–February 18, 2014.

This exhibit will also feature workshops. This year’s juror will be Jina Brenneman, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, at the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico. Educated in the US, Mexico and Spain, as an artist, arts educator and historian, she has consulted, lectured, curated and juried exhibitions since 1997.

My suggestion for any artist is to look locally first, and move out from there.  I’ve shown my photos in the following locations

Durango Arts Center
Maine Media Workshops
Portland Oregon Arts Center

Are entries free, or do you pay per image, is the contest a fund raiser?

  1. Read the fine print, find out the size restrictions for your online submission.
  2. Read carefully to see who is the final judge of your entry, fans? Favorites, a juror, a group of other artists (jury).
  3. 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.
  4. Black and white or color?
  5. Digital capture or film? Yes, we still use film!

Take the time to enter Photo Contests

I have found that recent entries in Photo contests, both local and national, have been beneficial. The entries are often judged by “fan favorites” and sometimes judged by editors of magazine and online juries.

I know it takes time to review, select appropriate images, edit, and make sure the images are well displayed on your monitor, but it’s worth the effort.

Here are some of my recent entries and the contest name is listed too.  Some were winners!

Colorado Mountains with fresh snow reflected in a high altitude Lake, near Durango Colorado

This image was entered in an International Gallery Exhibition, at Open Shutter Gallery in Durango. The framed photo sold during the show. ©Kit Frost

This next image was the fan favorite in the National Parks Summer Scrapbook Contest, winning in the “Water” category.  People who visited the website voted on their favorite.  I won about $800 worth of National Parks gear, tents, trekking poles, binoculars, maps and t-shirts.

Colorful image of the Virgin River flowing over rocks in Zion National Park.

Voted the fan favorite and 1st place prize winner. ©Kit Frost

RV West Magazine has monthly photo contests, with winning prizes like cookbooks and publication in their magazine.  I entered and won with this image for November, 2013.  In December, their editor called to do a story in their upcoming photography issue about my photo adventure business, my passion for camping and making photos (priceless free advertising)

Image of red jeep and white travel trailer at campsite among the red rocks of Southern Utah

©Kit Frost

A fall road surrounded by Golden colored Aspens

Winning Image. I entered this photo in an online contest and won a beautiful down jacket. ©Kit Frost

Facebook contests are also great places to submit your images. By submitting the above photo to Sierra Trading Post’s contest I won a beautiful, warm, down, jacket.

Entering and winning photo contests

And the winner is…

I have been entering quite a few of my images lately to photo contests.  Some require voting by the “fan favorites”, while others are judges on merit alone.

I entered this photo in the RVwest photo contest.  And won.  Check it out.

My maiden voyage, Valley of the Gods, Utah ©Kit Frost

My maiden voyage, Valley of the Gods, Utah ©Kit Frost


Link to RVwest Magazine.