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Online photo contests aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on!

They’re everywhere. Online ‘vote for me’ photo contests. Should you bother with them? I firmly believe not!

Here’s why you shouldn’t waste your time.

Online Photo Contests

If you place any value on your images, financial or otherwise, never give them away for free. That’s exactly what you’re doing with these contests. The blogs and Facebook pages that run them have no interest in your photographs – they have little interest in you. What really motivates them to run these stupid contests is your friends. They don’t care about quality, they don’t care about talent, what they want from you is to promote them, to generate traffic, likes and registrations for their websites or pages. Nothing more than that. How many time have you seen posts begging for votes on these things that go something like “Please vote for my picture of a horse on Jenny’s blog about horses’ (which probably gets about three page views a day).

A while back I saw a contest being run by an insurance company, the subject being food photography. What exactly qualifies an insurance company who probably know very little about either food or photography to judge your work? Pretty much nothing.

I’m not belittling contests as a whole. It’s my hope to stop readers wasting their time on stupid pointless ones. If you must do them apply some good sense as to which are worth the effort in terms of your time and the possible exposure you’ll get. Getting included in, say, The Guardians ‘Top travel photography of the year’ (if there is such a thing) has huge bragging rights, unlike ‘Jenny’s favourite horse photo of the week on Jenny’s little horse blog’. Bragging about that just makes you look a bit of a dick.

The Guardian would have a proper selection processes and judgement is ultimately in the hands of people who are experts in their fields – winning that would be an achievement.  Any photography contest relying on votes on a website or page is nothing more than a popularity contest – winning that only means you’ve been dumb enough to be suckered by the lovely Jenny into bringing traffic to her site, and you have more friends than the other suckers entrants.

Next time you see the phrase ‘Award Winning Photographer’ online, have a look at what the award actually is. More often than not it’s something really, really pathetic.

Personally speaking, the only appreciation I seek is either sales or the honest opinions of people I consider my peers. I couldn’t give rats arse what the mythical Jenny, my Facebook friends, and her three visitors a day think.

Remember, these popularity contests are no reflection of the quality of an image.

3 Responses to Online photo contests aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on!

  • Liz Young says:

    I’m have a bad eyesight day so I could only read your heading, but I entered my photo of a sunset over a local harbour on a local FB page. Why not? I’m not planning to sell the photo, or expecting a prize, just wanted to share it.

  • Marianne says:

    It does all depend on the competition, Alan. I recently asked my readers to vote for my photo in a FB competition and the prize I won was worth 500 euros. I subsequently blogged about it – receiving many blog post views – recommending Toma Tours who offered me the prize. Swings and roundabouts.

  • Alan says:

    Ladies – I knew this one might be a little contentious ;). I do feel quite strongly about this – as I said, in my opinion they are popularity contests with little to do with photography and everything to do with promotion of the competition hosts.

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