Articles Tagged: Photo Contests

Tips for Entering Photo Contests from a Serial Submitter

Photo contests and juried competitions are a big part of the photographic community. Longtime DCP client Jill Jordan has navigated this scene and has had her work selected for several competitions. We asked her to share some tips on why it’s important to participate and how to hedge the odds in your favor:

There comes a time where a photographer asks, should I enter a contest? As an amateur photographer myself I get much pleasure out of making the best image I can given the lighting, situation, and setting. Dallas Center for Photography has made me a better photographer through workshops and teaching me to become my own worst critic. I get great enjoyment when I have created an image that is well composed with interesting subjects. Sometimes self-satisfaction is not enough. Posting my images to Instagram allows me to share more broadly. I get “likes” from various people whose motivation or understanding of photography is unknown. Contests can provide a sense of achievement when an image is selected by a known professional photographer with the added benefit of providing motivation to continue to improve skills. However, there are things to consider when entering a contest.

This image was the first one I got accepted into an exhibit. After spending a summer in the cool, isolating North Carolina mountains, I was eager to go shooting so I attended the Texas State Fair. I felt like I was melting in the heat and found I wasn’t alone. This poor steer handler was having trouble keeping the sweat out of his face. Clearly the steer wasn’t fazed.

The world of contests is seemingly endless these days. There are some local contests as well as international contests to enter. Using Google is a good place to find one. Nearly all contests charge a fee to submit anywhere from 1 to 5 images. The typical fee is currently is around $35. Contests will post the theme and a biography of the juror. Themes will vary from portraits to wildlife to landscape to street photography to black and white to… the list goes on. Often a small number of winners are selected along with a limited number of honorable mentions. Most, but not all, contests offer cash prizes. Selected images are then displayed in a physical exhibition for a period of 3-4 weeks.

Prior to entering a contest, I have found it helpful to do some research on the juror and their style. I will also review previous contest selections to see the types of images that have been selected. Things to look for are contests that favor more artistic photography versus documentary. Enter which best suits your craft and stick with the theme. Particular attention should be paid to the requirements for file naming and file size to assure your images will be accepted.

I’d noticed a large number of birds roosting in trees so I set out at sunrise to make my image. Suddenly they flew out together and I captured them in flight above the power lines. The clouds above added more layers and I received a second place award for it.

One of a juror’s responsibilities is to choose images that not only relate to the named theme but also complement each other while providing different styles. This is important when the images are displayed in a gallery to assure a cohesive experience for the viewers of the show. There are many fantastic images that don’t get selected because they just don’t fit in.

If your image is chosen, you will be notified by email. Each contest will have its own requirements for receiving the final print. Some will print your image for you for a cost. Some will frame your image in temporary frame for you while others will require you to send a framed image. All will have a short but sufficient time period to assure your print can arrive on time. Understanding these requirements and being prepared will ease the stress. Then comes the fun. You will be invited to the show opening at the gallery. If possible, I encourage you to attend. It is a great opportunity to tell the story behind your image to many interested people, and to meet the juror and other fellow photographers. Finally, of course, you will feel proud of work that undoubtedly was the result of your technical knowledge and creativity.

As part of a Sam Abell workshop assignment I had to find interesting images to make. I found this outside of a hair salon. The loving moment between the woman and her dog was the perfect gesture to capture. However this image was not accepted in a contest.

Should your image not be chosen, do not let it stop you from entering more. There can be hundreds or thousands of worthy entries. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen for some but not for others. When I’m not chosen, I just move on to the next contest. If you are thinking of entering a contest, I highly encourage you. If you’re not sure, I suggest giving it a try. Asking other photographers for help in choosing images can be helpful. Just give it a “shot” and you may be surprised to find yourself standing in front of your print in a gallery on opening night!

Jill Jordan

Instagram: @jilljordanimagery

You can also view her work in our Client Gallery here.

The Hunt for the Scavenger Hunt Prize

One of the favorite aspects of my job as studio manager at DCP is that I am never quite sure how the day will pan out. The Tuesday before we had our first Kids Scavenger Hunt at Klyde Warren Park, I started my day with a text from Peter: “Hey, I need you to find little toy cameras that we can give to the kids as a completion prize. Check out the stores around Harry Hines Blvd and Royal Ln.”

Little did I know, this was the beginning of my own full blown scavenger hunt.

Peter had given me one clue: the Asian Trade District. Having just moved to Dallas, my familiarity with the area was on par with my knowledge of astrophysics (yes, I am aware of planets, but do I really know what is going on? no). I set off in my car, mentally braced for the journey ahead.

The stores were intense to say the least. They did not disappoint and reminded me of similar Chinatowns I’d visited on the East and West coast, but with that Dallas twist: plenty of parking and lots of space. The smell of plastic wafted through each store as I stared at rows upon rows of brightly colored plastic toys. I searched through the infinite bins but no toy cameras were found. I went to ten different shops but left empty handed, being told that they did not sell what I was trying to find.

The next day, on a hunch (and a little bit of desperation), I stopped by a little Korean shop in Plano by my house. I walked in and asked the shop keeper if he had toy cameras. He told me no but he knew where to get them! Excited, I asked him where. “Party City.” The quick drive confirmed that, sure enough, Party City had hundreds of small toy cameras all in different colors.
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