“Should I enter photography competitions?” It’s a question we’ve heard a lot in recent weeks. As the 2020 RISE International Photography Awards are now open for entries, we know many of you have been asking what to enter and why. So we asked Kelly Brown to share her own experience with you.
Almost every photographer I know goes through this process of questioning whether they are ready to enter the awards.
I have been entering photography competitions for 11 years in Australia and internationally. Each year, I get just as excited and nervous as the year before. I still remember the very first year I entered – the anxiety and doubt in selecting the right images. And then eagerly awaiting my scores to see if they were above or below standard professional practice in the jurors’ opinions.
I liken it to the first time I picked up a camera and began to experiment. I just knew it was like nothing I’d ever felt before. There’s a rush of excitement shared with a subconscious knowledge that I had discovered something that just felt right. Everything changed after that.
PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITIONS HELPED ME TO GROW
For me, it’s not about entering to compete against other photographers. It’s not even for the trophies (even though the trophies and accolades are nice). The greatest benefit of entering has been the drive to push myself creatively, and continually be inspired by other photographers.
Additionally, the advice and feedback from judges – which isn’t always easy to hear at first – when taken on board, is always educational. I believe that these opportunities to have my work judged and critiqued by leaders in our industry is invaluable. It has played a significant role in my professional development.
Peer critique is important to help us to know whether we are producing the high level of work that our clients deserve, and if not, identifies areas for improvement. No matter what your experience level, there will always more to learn, to help us continue to improve and evolve as photographers.
Learn more about What Photography Judges Look For in this article.
WHY ENTER PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITIONS?
If you’ve never entered before but have been considering putting your work up in front of a panel of judges, I encourage you to do so. It not only pushes you to take your imagery that extra step further but to create something truly unique.
Plus, any awards you receive through photography competitions could possibly be your first step towards building a global audience for your body of work.
STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Where to start? For me, creating an image with impact starts with a gut feeling.
Sometimes I’m faced with a client’s story and it’s my job to create images that tell their story – something with meaning and significance for them to cherish.
Other times, it’s an idea – my imagination working overtime to think of something that’s original and emotive.
Images need to reach out and force a jury to pay attention. Whether it’s the subject matter, or a powerful composition, or incredible use of light.
Pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone can be very rewarding. By watching judging at photography competitions like WPPI, or the recordings from the previous years’ RISE Awards, you’ll learn a lot from watching other photographers’ images being constructively critiqued. You’ll also be incredibly inspired to start creating. And if it’s not your cup of tea, that’s ok too. We are all different and work differently.
WHY I LOVE ENTERING PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITIONS
The reason I love entering photograph competitions so much is knowing that the photographs I create have meaning. They don’t need words to evoke emotion or tell the story. They push the boundaries of imagination, craft and skill, knowing that I’ve photographed something that’s truly unique, and each year more technically advanced.
Hopefully I have inspired you a little and I wish you the best of luck with your future entries.
– Kelly Brown