I know it’s hard for some of you to keep up with all of our contests so at the top of the Photofocus home page we’ve created a new menu item called “Open Contests.” It lists every contest we currently have running. Stop by and visit it often because we will update it as new […]

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UPDATE: In addition to the camera we’re giving away a free year of SmugMug Pro! That’s cool, but to make it even cooler, Justin Busa, the genius behind Fastline has agreed to donate free customization services so your SmugMug site can look as fantastic as you want it to without having to know any programming […]

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Guest Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter You can use two different approaches for entering photo contents: One method is to submit your favorite picture and you might even win but the odds are against you. I enjoy photographing this old farm near my home, but although I love this […]

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Hopefully you’re aware of our Emerging Photographer of the Year Award – to recap, over the next year, we’re going to identify 24 photographers who have outstanding work and offer them the exposure that they can get through our Photofocus website. Then, we’re going to select one to give a special award to. (The exact […]

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I’ve judged photographs for various contests since the 90s. I lost count of how many contests I’ve judged. Some have been in formal settings like those run by professional photography associations, and some for online contests like recent Aperture Nature Photography Workshops. When there isn’t a formal judging criteria, I always use my own and […]

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This week’s audience question comes from Nick Nieto. “I had a follow up question to a post recently made about winning contests. Last Fall my college (University of Portland) had a contest send them applications for students in the Photographers Forum College Contest. On the sign-up they had some pretty big name sponsors and I […]

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I judge many photo contests. I’ve been a paid, professional judge for several national contests. I’ve been a juror at several large galleries. I’ve judged online contests and I’ve judged at tradeshows, camera clubs and professional associations for photography.

There are a few things I’ve learned during this process that I want to pass on in the hopes that photographers will stop and think about the contest from the judge’s point of view before they enter. Why? It’s key to improving your chances of winning.

Let’s start at the beginning. . .

If you want to have a chance at winning a photo contest there are three things you MUST do and do very well. Failure to do these things almost certainly guarantees that you will NOT win.

1) Read, understand and follow the rules to the letter.
2) Read, understand and follow the rules to the letter.
3) Read, understand and follow the rules to the letter.

Okay – so that is only one thing three times – but it’s important.

When you enter a photo contest, you can assume you’ll have lots of company. The competition is fierce. After all, everyone has a camera these days. If there are 1000 photographs to look at, and 500 of them don’t conform to the rules, which ones do you think the judges will pass on first?

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