It doesn’t matter where you are in your photographic journey – at the beginning or well down the road – we all want to get better. While there are so many ways to improve your skills, I’m a firm believer that nothing will help you to grow faster than entering print competitions. When you compete with your images, your competitiveness will force you to grow. If you stick with it, your photography skill will grow – without a doubt.
The big question that people seem to have is WHERE to enter. There are many different contests out there and most of them cost money. The trick is to choose the ones that aren’t just scams trying to make money off of photographers. Because of this, I tend to enter competitions that are affiliated with major photography associations. There are basically two of these organizations, The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). Both are excellent organizations, but most of my experience is with PPA.
Within PPA, there are a few different levels of print competition. The best place to start is usually at the local level. Most major cities have a PPA chapter and many of them offer print competitions – usually at a very low cost. This is a great place to get your feet wet.
The next step is at the state level. Find out where your state photography convention will be this year and make plans to attend. The competition will be tougher there, but the education is invaluable. From there, you can enter District (multi-state) and International (multi-country) competitions. Each step along the way, you will learn how to fine-tune your photography ability to better compete with your fellow photographers. The beauty of the whole process is that you will not only become better equipped to compete in competitions, but you will also be better equipped to battle your competitors in the marketplace. If you put in the time and effort, it really is a can’t-lose proposition.
If you want more information on the whole print competition process – along with tips on how to succeed in it – you might like my DVD on Print Competition.
If you have entered print competitions in the past, post a comment below and let me know which ones. I’m always on the lookout for great places to enter!