Are Photography Contests Worthwhile or Worthless?

Are Photography Contests Worthwhile or Worthless?PhotoShelter Blog.

Are photography contests worthless? Like most arguments, there are two sides:

Yes, photography contests, on the whole, are generally worthless – they are a time and money suck, and the organizers are looking to make money or disguise them as a rights grab.

No, they provide value, in that it forces photographers to curate their best work and ultimately push themselves to compete with “the best”. Plus, reading that so-and-so won this-and-that photo contest is kind of like being named Best Smile in the yearbook – many of us tend to pay attention to those awards, even if we’re not sure why.

But before the opining begins, keep in mind that every contest is geared toward a different level of photographer (student vs. amateur vs. pro), genre of photography (documentary, commercial, fine art, etc.), and different buyers are checking out different contests (magazine editors vs. ad agencies, for example).

Below we rate several major photo contests, with a brief overview of each contests’ entry fees, prizes, promised exposure, and feedback from past winners. Our verdict is given on an A-F scale, with “A” being worthwhile and “F” being worthless. Let the grading begin:

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About Farah Mahbub

Farah Mahbub was born and brought up in Karachi. She attained her bachelor’s degree in fine art, literature and psychology. Being primarily self-taught, she has been working as a professional photographer since 1988. Her photographic journey has taken its course through exploration of various genres, ranging from fine art, commercial, architectural and landscape photography. However for her, personal self-expression is best conveyed through fine art photography, which she continues to explore and dedicate her abilities to. Working formerly in analogue, her present work now is primarily in the digital format. As a practicing artist, Farah’s work has been exhibited in both local and international exhibitions including the 11th Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh and the Mohatta Palace Museum in Pakistan. Her work has also been published in multiple books most notably Journeys of the Spirit: Pakistan Art in the New Millenium. Farah joined the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in 1997 as a faculty member, where she has been ever since. Under her tenure, photography has evolved from a single class into an undergraduate minor spanning the Communication Design and Fine Art and Interior Design departments. Farah recently had her fifth solo show "Baraka Silsila-e-Nisbat" with an accompanying monograph. View all posts by Farah Mahbub

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