Last week we talked about why you should enter photo contests. This week I would like to mention some things to keep in mind so you can do your best.
First of all, if you have never entered before, you may not want to jump right in until you actually visit a photo show to see what kind of images are on display. Take your time and actually look at the images in each category and honestly compare them to your work. Pay careful attention to how the entries are matted and mounted and also how they are actually hung up on display. If you think your work compares well to others, then pick up the published set of contest rules.
Make sure you read the instructions carefully. Each contest has different rules and categories. Missing something important can hurt your chances of winning or even get you disqualified in some cases. First, check to see how many shots you can enter. If you enter the maximum number of entries it may increase your chances of winning, but try to only enter your best work. Make sure you know how they prefer that the entries be displayed and any size requirements. In some contests, you simply enter a snapshot and that's it, but most require that the entry be mounted and matted some way and they will also need some kind of hanger on the back so they will be able to be hung with the rest of the entries.
Next, you will need to pick a category. Every contest has different categories such as children, black and white and landscape. Pick the one that most closely fits your entry, pay your entry fee if one is required and either send your entries in or drop them off at the drop-off point shown in the rules. Also, don't forget the contest deadline and make sure you get the photographs dropped off on time.
Then all you have to do is wait until the judging is complete and the entries are put on display. Try to attend the photo exhibit, not just to see if you won any prizes but to see if you can learn anything that might help you the next time you enter. It's a great feeling to see your work on display to share with others and it's also nice to mingle with others that enjoy photography as much as you do. When you pick your entries up after the contest, you could also have them framed and use them to decorate your home or give out as gifts.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a Master Photographer as well as a Certified Professional Photographer.)