The question of what to enter into photography competitions raises its head regularly. With entries to the 2020 RISE International Photography Awards opening today, Kelly Brown has put together this list of what judges look for in competition images.
What To Enter Into Photography Competitions
Selecting your strongest images to submit is no small feat. You have to seriously assess your overall body of work. This may be a challenge that you may not have attempted previously. And while there is no formula to determine which images you should enter, there are things that jurors look for when assessing images.
I feel very fortunate to have been asked to judge competitions all over the world. This has helped me to grow my knowledge, substantially. For years prior to this, I sat in the audience watching and learning. As every print came up in front of a panel of judges, they would give their review, pointing out areas for improvement and acknowledging what worked. I would soak every comment in. Even after studying photography at college, I believe this was the best classroom I could have ever asked for.
What Do Photography Judges Look For?
When choosing images to enter into photography competitions, keep in mind that judges will be looking for many of the following characteristics to help them score and provide useful feedback to help you learn.
An image that grabs their attention.
Creativity and Style
Creativity that tells a story and style that’s defined by a certain genre or technique.
Composition should hold the judges’ attention. It should prompt the judge with leading lines, alignment and lighting to look where the photographer intends them to look.
Image or Print Presentation
The overall finish of an image is highly important.
In print competitions, mats and borders should be carefully selected and never distracting. And paper choice can be critical as every paper stock is different and will impact on the final print.
In digital competitions, be sure to comply with the file preparation instructions regarding file size, format and colour profile. This will ensure the judges see your image accurately and consistently.
Correct use of light needs to enhance an image and should be appropriate to the image and subject.
Colour balance should be harmonious in an image. It can also create dramatic effects in an images.
This refers to the image and/or print quality, sharpness, exposure, print mounting, correct use of colour and paper selection.
Posing, lighting, composition, ISO choice, lens choice and exposure should all be considered, in conjunction with technical excellence.
Story Telling and Subject Matter
Images should strike the judges’ attention and draw them in to discover the message without distraction.
Watch Photography Awards Judging
If you are new to the world of entering photography competitions, you can watch the Finalists Judging from the 2018 and 2019 RISE Awards. This is a great opportunity to learn and grow, while becoming familiar first hand with what judges look for, the language they use, and their recommendations for creating stronger images.
Benefits of Entering Photography Competitions
While it might feel like the obvious rewards of entering any type of competition is the “winning” aspect, when it comes to photography competitions, the greatest benefit is the opportunity for growth.
Competitions which provide peer critique and feedback offer huge potential for your creative and technical development as a photographer. Peer critique is an essential for professional development at every stage of every creative person’s career.
The RISE International Photography Awards
I established the RISE International Photography Awards in 2018 to celebrate photographers from across the world. One of the key objectives for us has been to ensure that EVERY PHOTOGRAPH entered into this competition RECEIVES FEEDBACK from the judges, to help them ELEVATE their work from year to year.
I believe every photographer should have access to an affordable opportunity for peer critique, to help push them further on their journey. The response from entrants over the past 2 years has been phenomenal, and I’m proud to watch these people take their feedback onboard and grow in leaps and bounds.
If you’ve never entered a photography competition before, but would like take your work to the next level, I encourage you to consider putting your work in front of the RISE Awards judges. (Note, only you will know your feedback and score, unless you wish to share it.) The process not only pushes you to take your imagery that extra step further but to create something truly unique and it could possibly be your first step towards building a global audience for your body of work.
You’ll find details about the 12 Awards Categories you can enter, along with the rules, HERE.
2020 Categories include: Maternity, Baby, Documentary (including Birth), Family, Pet & Animal, Portrait, Wedding, Teens, Landscape, Children, Creative, and Travel.
Entries remain open until September 1st, 2020, giving you plenty of time to curate your existing work, or develop and capture new concepts, before entries close!
I wish you the best of luck!