Online Photography Contests – Meet Them, Learn Them, Win Them

Photography | September 24th 2010
Photography contests are a great treat that the internet has to offer for photographers. Most of the contests are community-based and run by small but quality websites. This means the prizes are usually nothing to write home about, or they just don’t exist. But the people who participate in these contests get a bunch of other benefits, like online exposure for their works, an honest and professional evaluation of their abilities and a creative exchange of ideas between co-lens-freaks.
There are numerous online photography challenges and contests (stay tuned for some links) that you could take your photography website business to, but before you answer the challenge you might wanna read our tips for participating in these contests.
Where To Find Contests
Basically, the best contests and challenges are organized by online photography communities, by „how to“ sites or by photography blogs. Some sites are designated especially for the purpose of holding contests, but these tend to be less interesting when there’s no additional content.
You will get to know about neat challenges by cruising the online photography scene, but here’s a little something to get you started with:
Choosing The Subject Of Your Photo

Photo by Christine Lim
There are generally two types of photography challenges: the thematic and the technic.
When encountering a thematic challenge, you will need your photo to relate to a certain concept. This concept may be rather abstract – energy, imperfection, symbiosis – or it can be explicit – toys, sunrise, dancing. When you try to come up with an image to fit the theme, it may help to prepare a list of both verbal and visuals associations that come to mind when you think about it.
If you want to set up a specific scene, don’t waste your time planning a jaw-dropping production. These contests are usually short-term based and you should be able to get by using elements from your daily life.
Technical challenges are meant to test you ability as a photographer facing a particular issue. For instance, you might be asked to post an HDR photo, a photo shot outdoors in midday natural lighting or a photo shot with a specific feature of a digital camera. When you come up with the image you need to understand the technical difficulty posed and make sure you know how such a difficulty is solved.
For instance, when required to submit underexposed photos ask yourself:

When can underexposure ruin a shot?
When can it help to fix other technical difficulties?
How can underexposure improve a shot?

Do some experimentation by shooting underexposed in different locations and analyze the results. What came out disastrous and where do you see potential?
Remember: even when the contest relates to a technical matter, your competing shot should not only demonstrate technical ability, but also creative thinking and visual inspiration. It won’t do the trick if you shoot a boring underexposed photo, regardless of how technically good it is.
Following The Rules

Rules are important. You need to stick to the rules. Most sites post specific instructions with each challenge, but they also have general rules that apply for all challenges. Make sure you know them.
Some rules instruct you on how to submit the photo, how large should it be, proportions, watermarks, etc. You don’t want your photo disqualified over such trifles, so do yourself a favor and get yourself acquainted with the rules.
Rules regarding post processing are especially important. Most contests recognize the need for some kind of editing, but they can be very specific sometimes. Make sure you know what you can and cannot do. Generally, the judges, the voters and the contest managers would not appreciate an over-edited shot. We are talking about photography challenges here, not graphic design.
Gear


AP photographer David Guttenberg astonished the world with a series of photos from the Afghan war field taken with his iPhone. Is David Guttenberg a world-famous photographer who gets plenty of exposure anyway? Sure. Is taking photos with your iPhone in Afghanistan a good gimmick? Totally. Still, these photos prove that a good shot depends first of all on the eye of the photographer.
That said, the appropriate equipment will increase your chances for a better shot and therefore your chances to win. But before you start packing the gear, check out the contest’s guidelines regarding accessories tools. Sometimes there are limitations as part of the challenge.
You will sometimes have the possibility to discuss the equipment you used. This is not always a wise thing to do in a contest. It my impress the viewers, but it may also open a new criteria for evaluation.




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