I have a complicated relationship to photography contests. On the one hand, it’s nice to win an award or two here or there. On the other, it’s a very bad idea to let you ego get caught up in what other photographers (they’re always the judges) think of your work.
Years ago, when I worked as a photographer for newspapers, I would enter contests and very rarely win an award. So for a while, I just stopped entering contests. I was too bummed about losing to consider the positive aspects of entering the contests, even if only to lose.
By reviewing photos to see which ones I thought might be award-winning, I was taking time to look back to see if my work was improving over time, if I was better at certain types of shoots than others, which photos jumped out as different from my norm, where I was having technical difficulties, and what I thought I needed to do to improve overall.
When I became photo editor, I began entering the NPPA’s photo editing competitions. Once again, after not winning for a year or so, I stopped entering. Six months or so late, one of the photographers at the paper where I worked, came an congratulated me on the year-end standings in the picture editing competition. As it turned out, I had won a few awards and garnered enough points to end up in fourth place in the nation for that year. The NPPA hadn’t been publishing the results of the picture editing competitions, so I had no way of knowing that my work was receiving awards. Until it was too late to enter any more contests for that year.
Well, surprise, surprise … something similar happened with the WPJA awards this year. During the year, when results of the awards were announced, I found out I had won four awards. Then just this past month, I went onto my profile to discover two extra awards.