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Author Topic: Why do people enter photo contests?  (Read 1575 times)
NancyP
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« on: February 06, 2013, 12:49:35 PM »
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A lot of photo contests have entrance fees of $25.00 or more. The prizes are usually a piece of equipment plus publication of the winning photos in a photo magazine. The magazine gets unlimited usage, no royalties, credit given to photographer. For the winning photographer, the prize equipment may or may not be more valuable monetarily than any other likely use of the image. The exposure may or may not be useful for that photographer's CV and portfolio. For all those other entrants, there is no critique given, and the individual entrant is out the $25.00. Given the odds, why bother? Are people also hoping for "name recognition" if they get published in the magazine? Personally, I'd rather save up those $25.00 fees and take a class or get a book or CD to learn more PP skills.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2013, 01:17:46 PM »
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Why do people compete in anything? Why do people climb mountains?

Hint: it is not always for the pot of gold - it is human nature. Recognition, credibility, esteem and self-esteem among others (perceived or real).

Mountains? - "Because they are there."

To this day, already famous and already rich photographers continue to compete in those "lowly" competitions - Peter Lik comes to mind. I am sure he at al are not there for the latest (you wish) Canikon X0000. If it is good for them, it is good for the rest of us.

Not all competitions require payment and not all are rights grabs. Some of them will provide a high-quality book of winning entries, as a compensation for the entry fees (high quality both in terms of printing and entry selection). Some of them will provide so-called "vanity publishing" instead, i.e., where almost all entries got published (B & W Magazine and Photographer's Forum come to mind).

However, I am increasingly weary of those that require payment, especially in exchange for pathetic prizes, as I realized there are more and more magazines or organizers who see that as a golden opportunity to supplement their sagging subscription and ad revenues.



 

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kikashi
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2013, 01:33:09 PM »
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Glory. Perceived glory, anyway.

Jeremy
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Jaffy
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2013, 05:37:08 PM »
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Hi Nancy,
I reckon humans are a very competitive species whether it is playing tiddly-winks, F1 racing or photo comps. People just like competing at what they think they are good at.

As a teenager in the late '70s I entered a photo comp for a local life-style magazine as I reckoned I had a chance with it being limited circulation (pre-internet hence limited entries) and vertical format and blank space for title etc, I can't remember what the prizes were apart from getting your image on the cover, but as a runner-up I got a book (Kodak-'How to take better photographs' ! Grin), so I know there were prizes and it was free entry and you got your slide back.
      That was the only comp I've ever entered but I still remember the buzz I got when I saw my name listed in the runners-up in the magazine; it would have been even better to be on the cover in the newsagents rack.
      Being a runner-up definitely gave me the confidence to know I could take pictures but that in itself was enough that I've never really had the desire to enter another.

I wouldn't pay to enter a comp as I don't reckon I'm good enough to win so it would be wasted money, but there are plenty of competitive self-confident amateurs out there who would like the buzz of recognition, and if they've spent several thousand on equipment what is another 25?  Especially if they can look at previous winning entries and see their shots are equally good.
      As amateurs they are not looking to sell any of their images so giving up the rights is not a big deal.  Makes it difficult for Pros though when I can enter any photo comp in the world with a couple of clicks on my keyboard.

Nowadays I don't know what comps are out there, but photo-mags used to offer thousands of s worth of prizes and if you couldn't compete in those there were still smaller publications with photo comps, whether local interest, Farmers' weekly or railway modellers' monthly.

Sorry for the rambling post: I could go on for hours about human nature!
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NancyP
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2013, 06:02:45 PM »
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I was wondering, because the competitions I am likely to enter are the camera club compositions, where the designated judge will offer critique if desired, and where you get to see what other local photographers are doing (and maybe have a beer afterward). The judges are local photographers. This is entertaining because you can see readily that there is general agreement on the top third of entrants per category, but very divergent rankings #1, #2, #3. In other words, the audience members mentally critique the judge's priorities and tastes as well. There is no fee other than yearly club dues. The other type of competition I enter is that for inclusion in a local photo show at a County Park or nature reserve - no entrance fee, no prize, just recognition among geeky amateurs peers who are also naturalists. I guess my motives are learning, sociability, and recognition from fellow non-famous hobbyists.
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kikashi
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2013, 02:45:32 AM »
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I was wondering, because the competitions I am likely to enter are the camera club compositions, where the designated judge will offer critique if desired, and where you get to see what other local photographers are doing (and maybe have a beer afterward) ... I guess my motives are learning, sociability, and recognition from fellow non-famous hobbyists.

That's why I spend a fair amount of time on this site, Nancy. I've learned a huge amount from critiques of the photos posted here (mine and others'), as well as a good deal of useful technical information. I have to provide my own alcohol, though.

Jeremy
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stamper
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2013, 04:09:35 AM »
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I was wondering, because the competitions I am likely to enter are the camera club compositions, where the designated judge will offer critique if desired, and where you get to see what other local photographers are doing (and maybe have a beer afterward). The judges are local photographers. This is entertaining because you can see readily that there is general agreement on the top third of entrants per category, but very divergent rankings #1, #2, #3. In other words, the audience members mentally critique the judge's priorities and tastes as well. There is no fee other than yearly club dues.

I did six years in a club and what you state is a very good scenario of a club. It is/was worthwhile imo but after a few years you have to move on because mostly it is the same photographers exhibiting and you see the same type of images from them unless there is new blood in the club. A good stepping stone to move from to hopefully better photographic experiences. Smiley
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francois
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2013, 04:28:50 AM »
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I have to agree with Jeremy and Stamper. I often went to local contests, mostly to learn and see what other photographers did. But I noticed that some smart guys learned how to produce successful (ie winning) images and diversity greatly suffers until new and different images took the first places. This often occurred when the "old" dogs stopped submitting photos or when judges changed.
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Francois
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2013, 08:10:08 AM »
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You have to carefully choose which you enter. Some things to consider:

  • Is it a legitimate, established contest where an award will really mean something on your resume?
  • Is the monetary or equipment award worth taking the chance?
  • Is the entry fee reasonable?
  • What rights do you give up? Particularly important to watch out for are contests where the organizers get rights to all entries, not just the prize winners.
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Peter
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2013, 01:14:46 PM »
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I was wondering, because the competitions I am likely to enter are the camera club compositions, where the designated judge will offer critique if desired, and where you get to see what other local photographers are doing (and maybe have a beer afterward). The judges are local photographers. This is entertaining because you can see readily that there is general agreement on the top third of entrants per category, but very divergent rankings #1, #2, #3. In other words, the audience members mentally critique the judge's priorities and tastes as well. There is no fee other than yearly club dues. The other type of competition I enter is that for inclusion in a local photo show at a County Park or nature reserve - no entrance fee, no prize, just recognition among geeky amateurs peers who are also naturalists. I guess my motives are learning, sociability, and recognition from fellow non-famous hobbyists.

Nancy, I have been a member of a photo club for around 15 years, and in fact I have just recently become a judge too!  I have mixed feelings about these 'competitions'.  Our own club have recently moved away from asking the judge to give scores to pictures, and instead concentrate more on the critique of a picture.  We still ask him to pick out their favourites, but the idea was to encourage newer members to show their work for appraisal, without worrying about the embarrassment of getting a low score.  This system has met with mixed feedback from the Club.  The problem is that these competitions lead to clubs having leagues for scores, and then you attract the competitive types who want to win at all costs.  The pictures start to conform to 'rules', the competitors put up pictures tailored to the likes of a particular judge, and the whole thing can stifle innovation.
My opinion is that people join camera clubs to learn about photography, but a big percentage end up leaving if they don't like the competitive aspect.

In a way I feel that competition of this type is anathema to photography.  Photography is a creative pursuit and how does one compare a picture of landscape with a still-life.  I think putting ones work up for critical appraisal from fellow photographers is a great idea, but beware that the 'judging' process can sometimes be demoralising - if you want to be 'successful' in such competitions.  You will quickly become aware that certain subjects will get more attention, and fads come and go.  For instance a while back we had masses of HDR stuff, now we seem to be on textured layers within an image.  In portraits there has been a glut of gritty people pictures set to one side of landscape format, with something indistinct and out of focus in the background.  Here in the UK we have also had a load of pictures of the white horses of the Carmargue running through water in a stampede.  One person goes off and shoots something original and does very well nationally, and before you know it everyone else has gone off to the same place to replicate the picture.

By all means enter the competitions, but just stick to what you love photographing and go with your own style.  The moment you start pandering to judges you will end up in a cul-de-sac.

Jim
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RSL
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2013, 02:02:21 PM »
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As one who's judged more than one photography show I can tell you that anybody who agrees to judge an art "contest" is insane. I always explained that to the contestants before the show, and after the judging the majority of the contributors always agreed.
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Isaac
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2013, 03:27:33 PM »
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The other type of competition I enter is that for inclusion in a local photo show at a County Park or nature reserve - no entrance fee, no prize, just recognition among geeky amateurs peers who are also naturalists. I guess my motives are learning, sociability, and recognition from fellow non-famous hobbyists.

And sometimes learning a little more humility ;-)
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NancyP
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2013, 04:24:50 PM »
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Hey! I am geeky too. Most of us in clubs and naturalist groups are geeky amateurs. And one thing about seeing what people do well, and what people do poorly - you can identify the person with special knowledge about a particular subject, and learn, and teach. Most people have interesting skills and experiences, and I like the casual not-overly-competitive format with some space for interactive critique and questions.
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Isaac
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2013, 10:53:14 PM »
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Some misunderstanding perhaps?

Not being top of the heap in the competition as a way to learn a little more humility :-)
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stamper
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2013, 03:34:22 AM »
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Some misunderstanding perhaps?

Not being top of the heap in the competition as a way to learn a little more humility :-)


One guy in the club I was in got a 20/20 for an image that most thought wasn't very good. The judge encouraged him to enter it into more competitions. The next competition he got 14/20 and the judge scored as most thought it merited. Humility!
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2013, 10:42:57 PM »
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A place in the sun.
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2013, 04:52:13 AM »
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A place in the sun.



And as the property market now shows, even that's no longer what it's cracked up to be.

;-(

Rob C
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SunnyUK
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2013, 06:02:19 AM »
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Small non-recognised competitions: For the fun of it
Large internationally recognised competitions: To achieve status. Pride. And maybe still for the fun of it.
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