Photographer Robert Hackman who featured in an earlier post about The Matchbox Gallery, kindly sent me these tips for entering competitions via email, saying, “Hope this of some interest to your readers”. It would be great to compile a Photo Competition Tip List collated from a variety of sources. If you have some points to add, please comment so that your tips can be shared via this blog.
Here are Hackman’s tips:
1. Be selective with the competitions you enter. Make sure that the exposure/prize is beneficial. For example, being selected by an organisation/gallery with a similar aim/agenda as yours will enhance the work. It could also help promote the issues you want to address, depending on the work.
2. Prepare well ahead of time. Make a note of competition deadlines that interest you in a diary. A rushed presentation and selection of images is a waste of time.
3. Be realistic. Entering competitions takes time and money so only enter those that you feel you stand a decent chance of being shortlisted for. Years ago, when I knew less about this industry, Marjola Xhunga and myself entered the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize. We were competing with people with far more experience and, of course, we were unsuccessful. We wasted a great deal of time and energy preparing for the competition. However, don’t refrain from stretching yourself and ‘lifting your game’.
4. Beware of rights grabs. Read the small print. Some competitions try and steal your copyright. Don’t even think of supporting such competitions. These types of competitions are normally aimed at the less rights-concerned photographers and ‘weekend’ snappers, so you will probably not come into contact with them anyway. However, don’t get complacent -remember to read all entry terms and conditions.
5. Be organised. Keep a folder of all the images and text that you enter into a competition. This way you have a reference of what was sent, where, and when. And, if you decide to enter a similar competition, it gives you a starting point – you can copy the text and review the images. It could help you make clearer decisions in regard to a possible re-edit. Furthermore, occasionally submissions get lost by the competition organisers. If they contact you and ask you to resubmit, you will be able do it immediately as you already have everything you need in the appropriate folder.
6. Remember to keyword. Make sure all of your images are correctly and thoroughly keyworded. Only then can you make sound decisions for editing.
7. Don’t get disheartened when unsuccessful. Remember, there’s a lot of great work out there also competing, and also every judge sees things differently. You gotta be in it to win it.