Wednesday, April 8, 2020

To Submit or Not To Submit

I get asked about submitting photographs to various contests and whether it is a worthwhile endeavor.  

To be sure, most contests are for generating revenue for the organization through submission fees - and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.  But be aware that you can spend plenty of money on contests and walk away with little to show for it.

"Pause on the Stairs" took First Place
in a contest in California
On the other hand, there are some really good reasons to consider contest submissions.  First, it gives you a chance to take a critical look at your work.  You want to submit your best images, but you also need to know WHY they are your best images (just because you like them really isn't enough.)  Second, most contests ask for an artist's statement.  Again, it is an excellent exercise to write down why you do the work, the purpose of the project, what you are trying to express, what makes your work significant.  Third, putting your work "out-there" for others to see, while it can be a little scary, really helps take you to the next level.  Finally, when you win something - great!  But when you don't - well a little humility is always good for one's character.  Just don't take it personally.

Honestly, I rarely submit my images to contests.  That said, there are a few criteria I look for when I do submit.  Highest on my list is the juror(s).  Is it someone I respect and want the chance to show my work to.  Also important is whether my project fits into the theme or focus of the contest.  A distant third down the list is the prize.  Cash awards are great, but equally so is the chance to show my work to a respected audience. 

So it's up to you.  Even it you don't win anything there is a lot to be said for the process of trying.

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