How to Win Photography Competitions

Photography competitions are wonderful opportunity for photographers to examine work, gain exposure and push the limits to become better photographers.

If you feel you are stuck in a rut, well photo contests can expand your creativity and step outside the box a little.

So, If you are a photographer, beginner or advanced, consider yourself to entering photography competitions contest and see how the experience improves your photography.

photography competitions


There are countless photo contests that you can participate in, both online and in other local and international photography community or there are international photography competitions entered by pro photographers.

For many of these you don’t even need to be a professional. there are several methods that, when put together, can give you that winning edge. These are 9 tips for aspiring photographers wanting to have a go in photography competitions:


How to Win Photography Competitions

  1. Know and Follow the Competition Rules

While they might be a little boring to read – the terms and conditions of entry to the photography competitions that you’re entering are the place that you really need to start when considering if and how to enter.

Reading the contest rules might be a little boring but this is the first thing you do, and the single most important step to winning a contest. You would be surprised by how many entries are thrown out just on this factor alone.

You could have the most amazing photo in the world, but if it violates any of the contest rules, it’s as good as not entering at all!

Make sure you read the rules prior to entering, and read them through many times.Check out important details such as entry submission date, entry format, model releases, etc.

stick to these guidelines or you could well be wasting your time! Judging a photo contest between perfect entries is hard enough, so a single violation of the rules will guarantee your entry is thrown out right away.

  1. Stick to the Theme of the Competition

Stick to the theme! If the competition you are entering has a theme. While there is generally room for creativity and interpretation of themes, Themed competitions will normally have a brief, which if read fully, could give you clues and information as to what the judges are looking for.

 shoot something new with the competition in mind. While it’s always possible to find an image in your archive of shots that fits the ‘theme’ of a competition. But taking new photos will make your chance for the photography competitions and help learning more about photography.


Winner California Ocean and Coastal Photo Contest: The Cormorant Overlook (Explored)

Photo : Mary Sheft

  1. Do Some Research

You can improve your chances of winning a photography competition if you take an advantage and do a little research before you start shooting.

Photography contests often display their previous winners. If the competition is annual, look at the winners from last year to find what the judges are looking for.

while you don’t want to copy them, they could give you some hints as to the type of images that do well.You may be able to detect a preference for a certain type of photo.

For instance, you may notice that the judges tend towards artsy images rather than clean, classic ones. Such an insight will let you tailor your submission to something that has a better chance of catching the judges’ eyes.

  1. Avoid Cliches and Stand Out

Keep in mind that judges will potentially be viewing thousands of images in their task of choosing winners. If the competition has a theme, submit an entry where the theme can be found at a glance.

if your image is just a predictable cliche like everyone else’s it’s not likely to even get to the next round. Stand out from the crowd by choosing compelling subjects, striking colors, unusual but strong composition etc. Display your knowledge of rules of composition but don’t be afraid to break them if necessary.

Make it interesting! Don’t always be predictable Photo contests are a time for experimentation. Find new ways to make your photos unexpected. You want to catch the judge’s eye and make your photo memorable.

Try shooting from a new angle: maybe on the ground looking up at your subject. Or get in close, filling the whole frame. There are countless ways to make your photos unexpected by simply using a new composition. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

  1. Aim for Technical Brilliance

The photograph you submit needs to have memorable content, but it also needs to stand out for its technical quality. Make sure photos you submit are focused (unless blur is clearly intentional).

Don’t submit a photo that isn’t well exposed, or your photo may be dismissed before the subject is even analyzed. Submit the highest-quality images you can produce.

If you settle for less than your best, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Your submissions should demonstrate your skill and enthusiasm for photography.

  6. Enter Early

 Don’t procrastinate. Photographers tends to submit in the very last moment of the deadline to photo competition.

Submit your photos early to ensure there is plenty of time for them to get noticed, especially if the winners are determined by public voting. The longer your photo is up, the more likely it will garner enough support to win a top spot.

photography competitions

                                 Photo : C.K. NG


  1. Tell a Story

The best photograph is one that tells a story, evokes an emotion, or conveys an idea. The judges are looking for a connection with the image – one that tells them within the first few seconds of looking at it that yours stands out from the rest.

Technically great shots without a ‘soul’ will leave judges wanting something a little more. Practice looking for the stories happening around you, whether it is two people conversing on the street, repetition of shapes and colors in nature, or an object caught in action.

Tell a story, hit people with emotion, do something with a shot that connects and evokes some sort of a reaction in those looking at the image. Whatever your story, be careful to stay within the parameters of the contest and not stray from the core theme.

  1. Be Inspired

One of the most helpful ways to get your creative horizon broaden by looking at the work of others. Look for inspiration from your favorite photographers, or the abundant photography across the internet.

Viewing the work of past winners of the photo contest you are entering can show you what the judges look for in a winner, and you may even see a pattern. See if there is a trend among previous winners.

Perhaps the judges lean towards a more artistic style, or perhaps they prefer more photojournalistic images. Let these previous winners be your guide, while being careful to maintain originality.

  1. Don’t give up

Whatever happens, don’t give up.

It is wonderful feeling to win a photo contest. But you won’t win every photo contest. Even the best photographers lose. Think of it as an opportunity you had to be more creative, the knowledge you gained and exposure you get.

Never give up on your work. If you didn’t win this contest, try another.


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