Photography competitions aren’t high up on every photographer’s list. But for a great many, they are. Every year on social media, I see countless people talking about entering a lot of the big annual American and global photography competitions. But very few of them win or even get close. After all, there are only limited spots amongst those top prizes.
Not winning, or even ranking doesn’t necessarily mean that your photography sucks. But maybe the reasons why haven’t occurred to you. in this video, photographer Zack Arias gives us six reasons why you’re not winning those photography competitions and how you might be able to resolve it.
This is, in true Zack Arias style, a bit of a long video at almost 26 minutes and the six reasons start about eight and a half minutes in. But it’s worth grabbing your favourite beverage and watching the whole thing as Zack covers a lot of his history with competitions, as an observer, an entrant, as well as a judge. He offers a lot of advice and some unique insights into the world of photography competitions that you might not have considered.
Here are the first five reasons, Zack mentions in the video.
- You’re putting your photo in the wrong category – With tens of thousands of entries, they’re not going to fix that for you.
- Your clients are not photography judges – Just because your client loves it doesn’t mean that judges will.
- You’re following trends – You might notice a pattern amongst previous winners and attempt to copy them. Stop it. you’re too late, that ship has sailed.
- You’re shooting for competition – Some people live to enter competitions. But you’ve no idea what the judges will really like. Shoot for yourself.
- Your emotional connection to an image is not coming through – It’s difficult to disconnect our emotions from the experience of shooting sometimes, but the judges don’t see that, and you can’t tell them.
The sixth one is a bonus tip, and you’ll have to watch the video to find that one out the elaborate version, but it essentially boils down to sheer dumb luck and the subjective mood of the judges on the day.
It’s a very good overview of the competition process from multiple perspectives and offers some great insights for those of you looking to enter competition. There may even be a few good tips there that you can use to help make your marketing more appealing or your portfolio more attractive to potential clients. Perhaps not directly, but the advice he offers will give you some new ways to think about and approach those tasks.