I have been having a very interesting conversation with a fellow photographer about photography contests. Now, for the record, I have entered select contests myself, and I will get into the reasons why later in the post, but the crux of the conversation was a disagreement about how potentially winning a contest means you have made it as a photographer. For me, that could not be farther from the truth, but for some that may indicate success. I view photography as a journey of sorts. I am always trying to learn the craft of photography to better my skill set so I can provide photographs that are meaningful to me personally and fulfill my clients needs. This can only be done over time, not from winning a photo contest.
I mentioned that I have entered select photo contests previously. My rationale for doing so was more critiqued based than the reward. In my humble opinion, one of the hardest things to do for a photographer is to have an objective third party, especially and experienced one, review and comment on your photographs. On the other hand, I feel that this is one of the best ways to grow you photographic skill set constructively, and that is the key, constructively. I pay no mind to those naysayers on social media or those I do not actively seek out for review who provide there two cents anyway. If reward comes with my photography, great, but it is merely an aside, not the motivator for pushing my photography.
I don’t want to imply that you cannot enter photo contests if that is your thing, but what I have discovered as my photographs have improved and I have evolved a style, I would get emails to enter different competitions, all promising greatness and, this is the kicker, charging $30 to $40 or more per entry. It was disingenuous, and seemed to prey on the hope and ambitions of those wanting to pursue a future in the industry of photography.
When you utilize photo contests seeking only the cash reward and then claiming to have maid it, I don’t feel this is measure of success. Money and art will always co-exist, however when your pursuit becomes based on money, your art will suffer and fade away.
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