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How to win photography competitions & which ones to enter

how to win photography competitions underwater photo

Do you ever dream of winning a competition? Not just any old competition, but something really prestigious. And if you are a keen photographer then winning a photography competition has got to be living the dream, right!

So in this article we take a look at some examples of popular photography competitions that you could consider entering and, most importantly, share some tips to help you win photography competitions!


Popular photography competitions

Once you start looking into photography competitions, you will find that there are more than you expected. Some are general competitions, others focus on a particular genre or niche.

You can find photography competitions by checking out photography publications such as Amateur Photographer or Expert Photography, or dedicated websites such as Photo Contest Deadlines.

Here are just five examples of competitions that may be of interest:


A competition with points and prizes for various different rounds. The overall winner is decided on points at the end of the competition. This year’s competition closes in November 2022, so also look out for details of the 2023 competition very soon. 


These awards include a competition that is open to all, plus Youth and Student competitions. The main deadlines are in January, though the Student competition closes in November. The competition features various different categories, and the winning entries are displayed in a major exhibition at London’s Somerset House.


Organised by the Natural History Museum in London, this competition is now closed for 2022 but definitely worth looking at for 2023 if you are interested in photographing wildlife. It is open to everyone, and as well as prizes offers the opportunity to have photos featured in a major exhibition which takes place at the museum usually between October and December each year.


If travel is your thing, this one is definitely worth a look. It is a competition run by photographers for photographers, and anyone is welcome to enter, whether amateur or professional, beginner or expert, young or old. The competition is open till the end of October and there are several categories, so you may even find that you already have something you could enter.


There are many jokes about social media being full of photos of food, but our passion for this is now reflected in this very popular competition which celebrates photos and films related to food. It is open to all photographers of any age and experience, and there are lots of different categories to choose from. Definitely a possible one to get your teeth into!



Things to check about competitions

We’ve already mentioned that there are so many competitions to choose from. So we would recommend checking the details carefully before you actually enter any of these competitions, just to make sure that it is a suitable competition for you.

Here are five things to check:

  • Reputation

Find out whether the competition is well-established and has reputable sponsors and recognised judges. This doesn’t mean you should only go for the big competitions, but make sure that any competition you enter is worth your time and effort.


  • The judging process

We just referred to judges, but you also need to be clear about how the competition winners will be decided. For example, is it just by professional judges, or by an internet vote, or perhaps a combination of the two? The judging method may influence the way you submit your photos, so you need to be clear about this from the start.


  • Rights over your image

If you want to win photography competitions, you need to be aware that this may involve you giving away rights over your image. For example, the competition organisers may want to publish your photos in print or online. The ideal arrangement would be a non-exclusive licence, whereby they can use your image but you can also still use it elsewhere. Just be careful not to inadvertently agree to any kind of copyright arrangement with the organisers, as this could mean that you lose your rights to use that image. 

  • Freedom to enter other competitions

Some photography competitions have rules that prevent you from entering a winning image from their competition into any other competitions for a fixed period of time, possibly up to 5 years. It can also work the other way round, in that some photography competitions won’t accept images that have previously won another competition. So just be aware that if you want to enter and win photography competitions, there may be some restrictions on using the same image to do so.


  • Check out the fees and prizes

Many photography competitions are free to enter, but you can expect to pay to enter some of the larger competitions. Competition prizes vary enormously. Some may offer cash prizes, or photographic equipment. Others offer the chance to exhibit your photograph(s), and for some, the prestige of winning may be sufficient reward in itself. But make sure you know what to expect, so that you won’t be disappointed if things don’t turn out as you’d hoped.



Tips to help you win photography competitions

The main way that you can win photography competitions is to start entering the ones that seem to be most relevant to you. Just give it your best shot . . . . literally! But there are a few tips we can share that might increase your chances:


  • Find your niche

If you are new to entering competitions, your best bet is to find the type of photography that you really enjoy doing and would like to become exceptional at. Then look for a competition in that niche and begin to develop your skills in taking shots that stand out from the crowd.

  • Research previous competition winners

Whilst you do want your shots to be unique, it can also help to look at past winning entries. It enables you to see the kind of thing that the judges will be looking for, as well as perhaps inspiring you with some fresh ideas. Also take time to check out the sponsor and judges of the competition, to see if you can gain any intelligence as to what might catch their attention.


  • Stick to the theme of the competition

Whilst there may well be scope for artistic interpretation in the photo you submit, you do need to ensure that there is a clear connection between your image and the theme of the competition. So don’t go too off-piste. It can often be better to go out and take photos specifically for a competition, rather than trying to shoehorn an existing photo – no matter how good it is – into a competition whose theme it does not fit.


  • Ensure your picture tells a story

There is that old saying “every picture tells a story” and this really needs to be true if you want to win photography competitions. Whatever the subject of your photo, it needs to grab the emotions and enable the viewer to really connect with it.

  • Get the technicalities right

Even though your pictures need soul, you still need to ensure that all the technicalities are the best they can be. Your image needs to be carefully structured, and well exposed and focused. Also make sure there are no distractions in the background of your shot. And if your image is likely to be viewed by judges or voters on various devices and in different sizes, make sure that it looks good however it is viewed.


We hope that these tips help you to find, enter and win photography competitions

Good luck from all of us at Print Your Memory.


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