I can count on one hand (and have fingers left over) how many photography contests I've entered. I'm not entirely sure why I haven't been motivated to submit to more. Perhaps it's fear, or stubbornness, I'm not sure, but it just hasn't been my thing.
Recently, my friend and co-photographer at Quirky Love, Viara said that she was entering a family documentary photography competition and that I should enter it as well. I thought, 'why not?' I'm a family photographer and I certainly lean heavily towards documentary in terms of style and method.
So, I gathered up ten images that I felt (and still do feel) proud of and that were representative of my work and submitted to the contest. You can see them below. If you follow me here or on social media, these images will be familiar to you.
I didn't win anything, nor did any of my pictures get culled into the final 100 in any category during the live judging. One of Viara's amazing images was selected for an Honourable Mention. That's a big deal. There were 6,500 images entered from all around the world! I super pleased for her and I am sure it won't be long before she's winning all the top awards.
This whole thing just got me to thinking about contests, why I hadn't entered many of them and what not winning is like. Here's what I've realized: not winning any prizes in a photography competition is not as bad as maybe I thought it was going to be. And the benefits of entering a contest are huge: you study your work hard, with a critical eye, giving consideration to why you think it's a strong image and it can push you to continue to produce the best possible work. I love the images that I submitted. The families mean something to me, the images are special to me, and they speak to me in a very personal way. No contest will change that.
I'm going to continue to enter photography contests that I think are worth it (like the one I speak about in this post) - ones that prioritize photography as an art and award those who use composition, technique and creativity in their photography. I'll enter these contests not because I think I'll win (although, of course winning is awesome!) but because I think it'll keep my on my toes and help me become a better photographer and a more expansive and expressive artist.
Places I've been, people I've seen.