If you’re looking to submit your photographs to a competition for the first time or are wondering why your images are never getting chosen for shortlistings then these five tips should help you impress the judge.

1. Read the Brief

This one should be obvious but the amount of images I see which do not fit the brief is mind boggling.

It should take you less than two minutes to read the competition brief and it’s going to save the person judging it loads of time.

I would say at least 25% of the images I see in any given competition don’t fit the brief at all.

This isn’t just the subject matter, make sure you follow all the submission guidelines, if they want it as a J-PEG at 1000 pixels on the longest edge then submit it at that.  Chances are their system is optimised to show images in a certain way so if you submit a tiny thumbnail, it will get stretched and make the image look terrible.

2. Don’t Put a Watermark on Your Images!

This may be a personal choice but seeing a watermark on an image really distracts me, especially in a judging setting.

I’m looking at most of the images as a thumbnail and at most they take up half my mac’s screen so if you have a watermark taking up 20% of your image it can be really distracting and it’s taking up a huge amount of your image.

I understand some people are over cautious about having their work stolen online but a photography competition judge isn’t going to steal your work!

3. Choose Your Best Shot From a Series

If you have five shots from the same location, choose one of them to submit, if you’re not sure which is the best then get someone else to take a look.

Due to the way most competitions save the images, your judge will see them by the time they were uploaded so if you upload ten of the same subject they will have ten images of the same thing to scroll through next to each other which gets boring very quickly.

4. Don’t Submit the Same Image Edited in Multiple Different Ways

This is related to point three but deserves it’s own tip due to the amount of times I see it happening.

If you have a nice shot, don’t then go and submit an option of it in colour, sepia, black and white and any other mad combination you can think of. 

Keep it simple, if you think the image works better in black and white then go that route but most of the time, if you have a professional judging the competition, they are going to choose something which has an Instagram style filter over the top of it.

5. Take Some Time to Fill Out the Description

If I am whittling down to a top ten and I have two images whichI am deciding between, I will often go to the description to see what the photographer was trying to convey with the image.

If one photographer has put “photograph of a building” and one photographer has taken the time to describe their kit, process, editing etc, who do you think is going to win out?

It doesn’t need to be your life story but a few lines of text could make a real difference to making it into the top ten and not.

I hope those five tips for entering photography competitions have helped make the process of submitting images easier and give you an insight into how a judges mind works.

If you have any specific questions on the judging process, feel free to pop a comment below and I will get back to you.


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