Why Enter Photography Competitions?


Late next month, registration starts for PPA’s International Photographic Competition – a chance for photographers to enter their best images and see how they stack up against the best photographers in the world.  Will you be entering?   You might be surprised to find out why it is so critical to your success.


Art competitions are nothing new.  The concept is actually very closely based on the Paris Salon.  During the 1700s, the Paris Salon was what every artist aspired to do.  If your work was accepted by the Salon, and displayed in the Louvre, you had truly made it!  Print competition works in much the same way.  A group of masters judge your work and if it meets a certain standard, it is accepted into the show.

Why PPA?

There are hundreds- probably thousands- of photographic competitions every year, but the one sponsored by Professional Photographers of America is the gold standard.  The judges are put through a rigorous training system that ensures a fair, consistent judging from year to year.  Trust me – I’ve gone through this process and it is no easy task.  Because of these high standards, the PPA competition attracts the best of the best.  The winning images are amazing artistic achievements.

Portrait of Judges


Good question.  You don’t win expensive prizes in this competition.  What you win is photographic skill.  Competition will force you to become a better photographer.  Even if you enter and don’t do so well-it doesn’t mean you didn’t grow as a photographer.  I can assure you this:   by pushing yourself creatively every year in print competition, you WILL become a better photographer.  No doubt about it.  It just takes a willingness to put yourself out there and maybe fail a little bit.  Everyone fails at competition every now and then.  The winners are the ones who keep trying.

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”  ~Woody Allen


Here is a LINK to PPA’s site  and everything you need to know about the upcoming competition.  Give it a try and see how you do.  I even put together a DVD on Print Competition that explains how the system works and strategies for success.   It is everything that I wish I knew back when I started competing.


Has print competition helped you grow as a photographer?  Any advice for competition newbies?  If so, leave a comment and let me know what you think!


    • Larry

      It can definitely be intimidating – but then again, most new things are. Here’s how I look at it… If you enter a print and get a 75 – that is still 75 points more than the person who didn’t enter.

  1. Karyn18

    Before entering such competition, I should be ready first.. It’s hard to compete with great photographers. It’s my pleasure to be your audience.

    • Larry

      Don’t think of it as competing with other photographers- think of it as competing with yourself!

  2. Gisselle

    Photography will always be perfect if it is your passion.. If you love what you are doing, it will mean you will also have a good result for it..

  3. Michael Anderson

    Great article on the value of entering competitions, especially your reference to PPA, as an idea. I agree that you never know unless you try. Keeps us striving, eh? -Michael

  4. TracyAnn0312

    Photography competitions was one of the most challenging event ever created. However, once you have joined here, you can learn many things that can help you to explore new things.

  5. Hey Larry

    If someone has the passion for photography then entering competitions should be a motivating factor without bothering about the results.

  6. Mary Calhoun

    I wouldn’t be caught dead submitting my photos to any competition. I guess you could say I’m a little shy about it.

  7. Personally, I dislike photography competitions in my primary field (wedding photography) as I don’t particularly feel they are worth all that much, or should effect a client’s choice of photographer.

    I would rather be chosen for a job because the couple love my photography and style, rather than because I have x amount of awards and they want to show off to their friends by letting them know all the awards and competitions I’ve won. If that makes sense! I’m not saying they’re a complete waste of time for everyone, they’re just not for me 🙂

    • Larry

      Thanks for your comment Steve- but I think you are looking at it the wrong way. Competition isn’t about awards – it is about making yourself a better photographer, which will benefit you AND your clients. You should give it a try.

  8. Photography competitions are the best way by far for a great number and variety of people to see your work, and an opportunity for you to see theirs. If you don’t enter, you can’t win!

    • Larry

      That’s true. Its not about winning- its about getting better. As long as you learn from the experience, you essentially “won”

  9. Barney Delaney

    I agree, putting your work amongst others can be a little daunting, but when you get recognition for a an image it’s an awesome feeling. Getting constructive criticism is also a good way to progress, while it can sting at first, if it really is constructive, and from someone who knows what they’re talking about, it’s worth that sting!

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