4 reasons to enter a photography contest and how to prepare for it

Photography is one of the most rewarding hobbies, and if you stick with it long enough, you can potentially turn it into a fulfilling profession. If you want to develop your skills and think outside the box, consider entering a photography contest.

These days, you will find several photography contests to enter. Some focus on a particular geographic area, while others explore specific genres – and a selection of these is a little more open-ended.

Read on to find out four reasons why you should enter a photography contest and how you can prepare accordingly.


Why should you enter a photography contest?

Before we talk about how you can give yourself the best chance of winning a photography contest, we should take a look at why you should even consider doing it in the first place.

1. Increase exposure

If you really want to grow your audience as a photographer, you should try to get as much exposure as possible. Some larger photography contests have thousands of eyes on the contestants’ work; if you finish in the top three, you might receive special attention.

Even if you enter a local competition instead, you have the opportunity to gain exposure in your immediate area. Photographing your hometown has several advantages; over time, you can carve out a niche in which you are the biggest player.

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2. Harmless Fun

Whether photography is your hobby or you make money, try to make fun your main goal. Even if the images you submit aren’t nominated for any awards, you can still enjoy the process.

Entering a photography contest is also a great way to try out a new genre of photography, like portraits. Through your experiments, you may discover a style that you really like and want to pursue.

3. Build your network

Building a network is one of the most crucial things you can do as a creative. Getting to know more people within your industry opens more doors for work opportunities, and you might also meet lifelong friends along the way.


Participating in a photography contest potentially allows you to meet the judges and learn from people who likely have years of creative experience. Plus, you can connect with other candidates and potentially collaborate with them in the future.

4. Get out of your comfort zone

As any successful person can attest, spending too much time in your comfort zone can result in less growth than you would like. To reach the next level, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Entering a photography contest can be a daunting experience. You have to deal with other people criticizing your art, and you’ll also have to think a bit more conceptually about what you produce. The feedback you receive can give you the confidence to tackle more difficult tasks in the future.


How to prepare for a photography contest

Now that you know why you should enter a contest, we can give you some tips to make sure you’ve prepared as much as possible.

1. Think about location and composition

When you enter a photography contest, you usually get a brief explanation outlining the different aspects you need to consider. Once you’ve thought about it, you’ll need to think about the most important areas, such as placement and composition.

Where you choose to capture your images can have a huge impact on the message you want to convey. Likewise, composition can help you stand out; instead of thinking about your shots at eye level, try getting creative with crouching, looking up, etc.

You can also incorporate theories like leading lines to make your photos look more interesting.

2. Consider the lens and camera body you want to use

Any camera is better than no camera, but equipment can play a crucial role in determining the results of your images. Ideally, you will have several options to choose from when choosing equipment for your big shoot.

If you have a selection of lenses, think about the impact of each on the rendering of your photos. In some cases you may want a wider angle lens, but others may require something more telescopic.

If you don’t already own the camera body and lens that you think will work best for the photos you want to capture, you can always rent equipment from someone else for the day.

3. Shoot in different lighting conditions

Most photography is about light; if the conditions are not met in this regard, you will probably not get the type of image you want.

When preparing for a photography contest, consider taking photos at different times of the day. Golden hour is a popular time to shoot, but don’t dismiss blue hour or even noon.

If you live somewhere where the weather is unpredictable, try shooting in each of these different weather conditions. You will have a much better final choice to submit by expanding your horizons.

4. Create a shortlist of photos to choose from

Once you’ve taken the photos for your contest, you’ll probably have a small selection that you’ll be happy with. Create a shortlist of at least five photos from these and submit the one you are most proud of.

If you have already taken photos that you think are what the contest is looking for, you can also add them to your shortlist. You can use the images you don’t submit on other platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and build hype among your friends and followers before the event.

Participating in a photography contest is a great way to grow

Entering a photography contest is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and improve your art. You can use the contest as an opportunity to try out new genres of photography or showcase your expertise in an area in which you are skilled, while potentially meeting new people.

To give yourself the best chance of winning, you’ll need to read the contest brief carefully and make sure your image meets the requirements. Consider filming in different conditions and creating a shortlist before submitting; you can also experiment with various lenses and camera bodies.

Even if you don’t win, entering a photography contest is a chance to have fun while doing something you love.


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About the Author

Stewart C. Hartline