Thoughts On Entering A Photography Contest

Oops, Wrong Blue Ribbon
Oops, Wrong Blue Ribbon

(One of the things that I do to have fun and stay positive is make photographs. From time to time, I’ll share photos I’ve taken or information about photography for those who share my interest.)

Since I value taking action and having fun so that I stay positive, I’m entering a photography contest at my local county fair.

It’s quite a process. First, you have to make the pictures. Then, you have them printed. Next, you mount them in the approved way. Finally, you enter them in the contest, trying to cram your favorite photos from the last year into the competition’s categories.

The cost of entering 9 photos (the maximum), not even considering the cost of my equipment or the value of my time making the photos, will be more than $100. That includes printing the photos (at Ritz Camera), purchasing the mountings (at Michaels) and the $30 entrance fee.

If I win a blue ribbon, there is a cash prize – $5.

So I’m not in this for the money.

Then why?

Because it’s fun. And because action is better than regret.

I know I’m not a great photographer. I know enough about composition, lighting and the like to make solid, pleasing photos, but I’m not exceptional.

Yet it’s still fun to compete.

Based on my experience when I did this two years ago, there should be hundreds and hundreds – maybe thousands – of entries in this contest.

Last time, I actually won two prizes – a blue ribbon in one category and a yellow third place ribbon in another category.

When I looked at the exhibit last time, in most of the categories where I did not win an award, I thought my photos were better than the winners’.

HOWEVER, I found many other non-winning photos in those categories that I thought were better than mine – some MUCH better. So I probably ended up being judged better than I deserved.

So back to the question: why bother?

I think it’s because I like to get out of my comfort zone and do things that I don’t normally do. I like to risk failure. Struggling not to embarrass myself makes me better. (And my goal is to become exceptional some day.)

And I really enjoy the creative process of making something that is beautiful or interesting.

I have found as I have selected and prepared my photos that there is a tug between entering works that I like and entering photos that I think the judges might like.

As a competitor, I’m pulled to enter photos that could win, and I will confess that I entered one or two pictures for that reason.

However, almost everything I entered was selected because it represents what I think is interesting, what I think best represents my work.

Ultimately, then, the pleasure is in creating something that you think is interesting and hoping that someone will agree and will reward you with a ribbon or just a favorable comment about your photos.

Even before the competition begins, I can report one result. I’m happy with my entries. I think they’re pretty good. So, I already feel like a winner.

In a later post, I’ll report whether the judges agree with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *