Real Photographers Who Entered Photographic Competitions

“Competing gives photographers those extra credentials. Clients can read an article about your awards and—though they may not understand what the awards are—it shows that other people think your work is great, too. I believe I’ve done well in photographic competition because I love what I do. And even if I don’t win, it won’t ruin my life or make me stop competing. I do it to become better.”
          Sandra Pearce, M.Photog.MEI.Cr. / Sandra Pearce Photography

“The best advice I ever received? Sit in on competition before you do it. Pay attention to what is meriting and ask as many questions as you can. From my first competition experience—even just watching it—I was hooked! I just love it; plus, competition helps me pay attention to the details in what I’m shooting before I even take a picture.”
          Kimberly Smith, M.Photog.Cr. / CK Fine Portraits

“It’s easy to give excuses or say you’re too afraid to enter. But competition holds you accountable for pushing yourself and your art. Without a doubt my photography has gotten better by entering these photographic competitions. My favorite thing is probably just shooting images and trying to expand my mind and skills beyond the norm for the competition…and those things trickle down to my everyday work. I’ll have someone come in do a shoot for competition where I’ll be trying different lighting effects without worrying about what the client wants. And next time I photograph a client, I’m not afraid of that type of lighting.”
          Dan Frievalt / Frievalt Photography

“I have a love/hate relationship with photographic competitions. Sometimes I say enough is enough. But every time I take a photograph, the same question pops up: What will the judges think? I try to tell myself it doesn’t matter, but deep inside, I know it does…because the judges work off of the 12 elements that make a good image a fantastic image. And in the end, I think competition has truly brought out my creativity.”
          Dianna Lynn Walker, M.Photog., CPP / Dianna Lynn Photography

“Competition is like exercise. You don’t jog to jog; you jog so you get healthier and stronger. You compete to exercise your skills and accomplish more things for clients. Competition forces you to push harder than you might normally, and it can bring you to great things.”
          Tim Walden, M.Photog.Cr., F-ASP / Walden’s Photography

I believe that anyone who wants to improve their work and continue to grow as a photographer should enter photographic competition. It forces you to be more critical of the photographs you enter—and their lighting, posing and post-processing details—which will carry over into your everyday work. Plus, my clients love it when I enter their images—they tell ALL their friends and family members, especially when their image wins an award. It creates amazing buzz about my work, which leads to word-of-mouth referrals.’
          Jessica Edwards / Jessica Edwards Photography

“In 2007, my first image merited at national competition, but the other three tanked. Jim Chagares told me my problem was having a score of 80 as my goal (the minimum score for a merit). He told me I needed to make a score of 100 my goal…and then the merits would come. And it was just that simple. I stopped the ‘yeah, buts’ about my images. I stopped thinking about good enough and started aiming for perfection. After all, people don’t have to come to me to get their portraits made. I have to give them something special to keep them coming to me, and competition helps me always keep that edge.” 
          Michael Barton, M.Photog.MEI.Cr., CPP / Indigo Photographic

“My old high school wrestling coach once said: ‘You wrestle like you practice. If you don’t do it every day, you won’t be able to do it when it counts.’ That’s how we feel about competition. Once you get in the mindset of competing every year, you won’t cut corners anywhere because you don’t know what will be the stand-out wedding. Plus, we want a certain level of quality in everything we do.”
          Tomas Muñoz, M.Photog.Cr., CPP / Muñoz Photography


Competition is like exercise. You don’t jog to jog; you jog so you get healthier and stronger.

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