10 Steps that Lead to the 1st Place in a Photography Competition

10 Steps that Lead to the 1st Place in a Photography Competition


So many people try to win the contest and too many of them fail. So, are there any secret ways how to become a winner? How to win photo contest and let the whole world admire your work of art? Why not figure that out right away?

Photography Competition 1

10 Steps that Lead to the 1st Place

Step 1. Find out more about the competition you are about to enter

There are many small and big contests that are performed monthly and yearly. Choose the one you like the most. If you are sure about your chances, then don’t waste your time on minor competitions.

How to find appropriate competitions? Use the Internet and enter keywords – photography competition 2012, photo contest, etc.

Step 2. How to win photo contest?

Learn its rules: every contest has its terms, requirements and conditions. Of course, this is the least pleasant step, as no one likes rules and limits one is put into, however, being well-acquainted with them means having more chances to become the first

Make sure that your photo is of required imagery, size, pixels, etc. When the photo doesn’t fulfill all the requirements, it won’t be taken into consideration.

It is also highly important to get acquainted with the past entry winners’ works and their styles. That helps in gaining insight into what the contest’s administration is looking for and what it expects to see. Your primer task is to find a common feature that unites all the pictures and make your own shots.

Step 3. Picking the photos

Choose a few photos that seem to suit the requirements the best. While choosing them, make a judgment on visitor votes, who liked pictures from the previous contests. This will help to figure out what details and pictures to pay special attention to.

Step 4. Don’t be too shy

One of the commonest mistakes of those, who participate in such contests, is the fact they are sure that their pictures are not good enough. Try to pick the best photos out of your portfolio. What’s the secret of such competitions? The administration is not trying to find something perfectly composed. The task is to get the photo that is unique, extraordinary, special.

At times, it is even enough to make a single shot that depicts a special moment and win the prize of the contest.

Photography Competition 2

Step 5. Keep practising!

Having talent doesn’t mean having wonderful photos. They say that to catch a moment it is important to be at the right place at the right time. But who knows when or where one should look for this moment?

Use the talent you have to catch unique moments that will give the photo an edge over hundreds of other competitors.

Step 6. Stay in the mood

How to win photo contest? Be prepared. Preparation doesn’t mean knowing the exact date of the contest or having the best photo ever. Preparation is keeping one’s mind thinking about it, being thematically oriented, looking for ways for self-improvement and taking more and more pictures.
Don’t lose chances to have great shots even after you’ve sent the picture. Professionals say that good shots are always around and the task of an artist is to use the moment.

Step 7. Work on the theme

Every competition has its theme. One can’t bring an ordinary photo and participate in the competition. One should bring the shot that suits the chosen topic. However, they say “keep to the rules, and don’t forget to break them”. What does that mean? The photo you choose should match the theme of the contest, but it also should go far beyond it, depicting philosophical context. Make the picture have sense. Try to be creative and interpret the given theme in your own way, adding your own flare and imagination.

Step 8. Stimulating emotions

The photo you choose, should provoke certain emotions, because everything that is connected with emotions becomes memorable, and it doesn’t matter much whether those emotions are positive or negative. Evoke senses of the viewers and steer them to recognize the emotion that is hidden within the photo.

Step 9. Submit the picture at the beginning of the contest.

Many contests are generally based on visitors’ votes. Don’t wait until the last minute to send in the entry. Some people tend to do this as they are afraid that their photos might be lost. However, this is a wrong strategy.

Photography Competition 3

Step 10. Promoting the photo

As many contests are mainly based on the votes of online site’s visitors, you are to promote your entry to the contest to let your family, friends and fans know to vote for you. Promotion can be done in social networks (Twitter and Facebook). When the picture you’ve chosen for the contest is eye-catching, you will definitely receive votes from site’s regular visitors, who always choose good photos.

The feedback on your photo is very important as well. Before sending the photo to the contest’s administration, give it to your friends, relatives and colleagues, who will become the main critics of your work. This way is especially effective in case you cannot choose a single photo out of hundreds of shots.

What types of photos are the most popular? To win popularity the photo should be impressive, and it doesn’t matter what things, emotions, objects, people or situations it impresses with. It should also be perfect from a technical point of view. Make sure that the photo is focused, correctly composed and exposed.

We hope all these tips help you to win the contest. You can take participation in free daily contest in site www.photorush.com. Winners get a chance to compete for real money.

Of course, there is nothing more pleasant than to achieve a victory over other competitors. Saying that victory’s not the main thing means trying to soothe oneself. However, there can’t be several winners among hundreds of participants. If you are not chosen, you still should go on shooting to improve the technique and catch THE moment.

How to win photo contest? Keep to all the tips we’ve described and do everything possible to be in the right place at the right time.

The author of this article is Yauhen Zaremba. He is CEO at www.photorush.com. Connect with him on is his Linkedin Profile.

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Some Older Comments

  • boowwet September 13, 2012 02:27 pm

    Some of you may call it "popularity" contest but the author clearly stated: "How to Win..." not how to categorize photo contest into popularity or whatever. If you think its "popularity" contest, then don't join the contest.

  • Nadia August 23, 2012 07:34 pm

    Thank you, very useful article!
    Please, check out my entry for the International Ramadan Professional Photography competition:

  • jong araneta August 23, 2012 08:35 am

    i really agreed with some comments, most of the photo contests online are by popularity votes that makes non-sense to me. i tried to participate in one website that i made to think twice about the winning photo...its very disgusting, the subject is just only "water droplet" which is very basic and simple (composition). Because of highest total votes...he/she fortunately won the contest.

  • ronald August 17, 2012 05:11 pm

    i have macro photographs on facebook and always enjoied extreme closeups but dont know how to enter contests

  • steve August 17, 2012 05:19 am

    @eeps: really..? Some bad generalisation there. As a sports and wildlife photog I definitely don't make 'em, nor does my friend as a documentary photog, or a landscape photog I know well. If you choose to exhaust the possibilities in photoshop for example, I guess you can produce great artwork (if that's your thing)..but make a great photo??..the first picture in this blog is not a great photo..it's so fake it has no integrity. I respectfully suggest you have a rethink..And Peggy...go out and take some great photos.

  • Arnel August 17, 2012 03:14 am

    I recently visited a sight on Garden Photography contest. So many of the photographers that submitted their photos had amazing shots. I was therefore disappointed to see that the person who won first place used an X-ray machine. I felt like this was wrong on many different levels, and couldn't believe the judges supported it. First, while an X-ray machine does take a picture, it's unfair because how many people have access? Second, she took advantage (along with two radiologists friends who helped her) of the healthcare system. It costs money to operate those machines, and I'd be surprised if she paid for them. It really turned me off to this particular contest. My other problem is with the contests that are popular vote. It isn't a photography contest, it is a popularity contest. Seems like grade school again….

  • enfpwoman August 17, 2012 03:08 am

    Even Olympic athletes compete to achieve their best... NOT to win medals. This article is so petty! Photography is about the photographer communicating their vision, their view of the world. PERIOD. We recognize photos by photographic icons because their unique vision of the world is captured by them via their camera.

    This article encourages amateur photographers to alter their vision in a certain way to win a competition. How sad...

  • Kicki August 17, 2012 02:02 am


    First photo was taken by this photographer

  • MIchael Stephens August 17, 2012 01:34 am

    A photo can have no boundaries and should not be put into a manufactured award category.
    Each photo should stand on its on merit and have its own story.


  • Mark Aksoy August 15, 2012 02:48 pm

    I agree with Laura. Contests based on getting the highest number of votes aren't photo contests, they're popularity contests! Most online international photo salons, such as those sponsored by the Photographic Society of America (www.psa-photo.org), use panels of judges to determine acceptances and awards. Images in any contest should win based on their artistic merit, not their degree of self-promotion.

  • Laura Kaczmarek August 13, 2012 10:27 am

    I don't enter contests where you win depending on how many votes you can get. It's too easy for people to vote for the cutest picture, or one with a really attractive person in it that may not be really a very good photo, etc. To me, those are popularity contests. They don't necessarily tell you much about talent.

  • ilo August 13, 2012 02:33 am

    I agree with Brian ... my first thought was why would a photography site not credit photos to the photographer who took them? I'm assuming they're used with permission, yes?

  • brian August 11, 2012 12:02 pm

    Who shot the first photo? I would really like to know.

  • Connie August 11, 2012 07:21 am

    What do you think about the entry fees that I've seen some organizations collect on a photography competition ?

  • Leandro August 10, 2012 10:57 pm

    I've registered to the photorush website (as promoted here) and to my surprise the registration process automatically picked my password (!!) for my nickname. Not only that, it did not allow me to edit and also displayed it on the home screen.
    Finding the way to cancel my account - was not simple or obvious. At last I found the small print under profiles.
    Unprofessional, unreliable and upsetting.

  • Eeps August 10, 2012 08:53 pm

    @peggy: You don't take great photos. You make them.

  • raghavendra August 10, 2012 07:10 pm

    well you could get some inspiration fro home,


  • Alexander Catastroff August 10, 2012 03:53 pm

    Amazing! I love the one with the trees!

    Here's mine similar to that one:

  • Kenneth Rivera August 10, 2012 12:06 pm

    Thanks for this article i'm actually working for material for a Costa Rica contest that will take place during the month of September, is one of the largest exhibitions open for public participation.

    Participating on a contest is the best way to understand if the photos you take are attractive to the public in general... even more if you participate on a specific category.

    Practice makes you better!


  • Peggy August 10, 2012 11:29 am

    Is the photo of the flower photoshopped? It doesn't seem natural. A flower stalk would not just grow from the pavement like that without any leaves.

  • Jai Catalano August 10, 2012 08:34 am

    Promoting the photo is really the number 1 element. You can be mediocre and get away with great practice. I did a video contest and my video went viral but I lost. I actually won because I made a lot of money with the video but the promotion is what got it out there.

  • Steve August 10, 2012 03:14 am

    To start with the main thing to remember is that you will not win anything if you do not try: