21 Aug

Avoiding 10 Common Mistakes When Entering a Photography Competition

Are you interested in winning a prize package worth up $1,200? Take your best shot and enter the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition today! Read more below to learn about the competition and 10 common mistakes to avoid when you submitting your entry.  

Photography contests and competitions are curated events inviting photographers to submit their work to be judged on specific criteria or themes. Entering a photography contest offers a wide variety of benefits to amateur photographers, seasoned professionals, and all the shutter-bugs in between.  

Photo contests offer participants the opportunity for broad exposure, especially among industry experts, serve as a catalyst for personal and artistic growth, and usually come with fancy prize packages. 

If you’re a photographer aiming to elevate your profile and skills, jumping into the world of photography competitions should be your next move. 

Now that we understand the goals and benefits of entering a photography competition, let’s discuss 10 common mistakes to avoid when entering a photography contest:  

Mistake #1 – Overlooking the Submission Guidelines 

Different competitions may have distinct preferences for image formats. While some might require JPEG, others could ask for TIFF or even RAW files. Submitting in the wrong format can sometimes lead to automatic disqualification, no matter how exceptional your image. The 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition requires all photos be uploaded in .jpg, .jpeg or .png format,  

Image size often dictates clarity and quality when displayed, especially in large formats or print. Abide by the recommended pixel dimensions and resolution to ensure your work is seen in the best possible light. When entering the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition, photos  should not exceed 50MB.  

Click here read the official rules for the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition.  

Mistake #2 – Missing the Deadline 

Photography competitions usually handle a massive number of entries; therefore, they are typically strict about submission windows. A missed deadline often equates to a missed opportunity, no matter the brilliance of your work. The 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition runs from August 8, 2023, through October 16, 2023. Be sure to submit your photos by 10/16, all entries must be received by 5:00 PM ET.  

Mistake #3 – Choosing Your Submission  

Photographers often find their work interwoven with personal experiences and memories. Strong connections to a photo subject can sometimes cloud judgment when selecting the right photograph for a competition. A photograph evoking strong emotions might not have the same impact on an unfamiliar audience. The story behind the image may only be known to you and could lose some of its potency to viewers.  

Furthermore, it may be challenging to assess technical proficiency or composition if the shot has deep personal meaning. You might even overlook technical flaws that are visible to neutral observers, such as the judges. 

Finding a balance between personal significance and relatability can be crucial for success and winning a photography competition. 

Mistake #4 – Ignoring the Competition’s Theme  

Photography competitions are more than just a showcase of skill; they aim to capture specific ideas, themes, or narratives. Overlooking a contest’s central theme can lead to a misalignment between the photographer’s submission and the competition’s vision. Although tempting to submit your favorite shot from your portfolio, it’s best to ensure it aligns with the competition’s theme. 

The theme of the 2023 K12 photo contest is ‘In Focus’, aspiring to see the world from your perspective. With three categories for different skill levels, all students in grades K-12 are encouraged to enter. This year’s categories are: 

  • DSLR – recommended for experienced photographers  
  • Smartphone Shots – recommended for all skill levels  
  • Film – recommended for experienced photographers with skills in developing film 

Mistake #5 – Submitting Low-Resolution Images 

Judges in photography competitions often sift through numerous entries. A low-resolution image can immediately stand out – but not in a good way. It can create an impression of carelessness or lack of attention to detail even before the photograph is evaluated. Low resolution can blur or pixelate key details such as tiny water droplets on a leaf or the intricate pattern on your pet’s fur, ultimately robbing the image of its depth and intricacy. 

Avoid submitting low resolution photographs by ensuring your camera is set at its highest resolution settings and avoid using ‘compressed’ settings, which reduce file size by lowering the resolution.  

All photographs submitted in the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition should not exceed 50MB.  

Mistake #6: Over-Processing and Excessive Retouching 

Today’s digital age gives post-processing tools such as Photoshop or Lightroom a realm of possibilities for enhancing work. Great power comes great responsibility. Over processing or excessive retouching can distract from your photo’s authenticity – moderation is key. Artists and photographers often find a raw beauty in unfiltered moments, too much retouching can replace natural beauty with a static, manufactured feel.  

Over editing might also lead to loss of details, natural colors, or create overly smooth textures. They can also erode trust and it may be seen as an attempt to misrepresent reality.  

Of course, editing is undeniably a skill, but competitions often focus on in-camera abilities. Relying too heavily on post processing might overshadow your foundational photography skills such as lighting and exposure.  

Editing tools should be seen as allies not saviors. Strive for a harmonious blend so that edits enhance the narrative without overshadowing authenticity.  

Mistake #7: Replicating Popular or Clichéd Shots 

The world of photography is vast with everyone from amateurs to professionals, and it can become common to encounter certain shots or angles that have already been made popular; it can even border on cliché. While popular set-ups have their charm, replicating them can be a pitfall for new photographers. In professional photo competitions originality is often a key criterion. Judges and audiences look for photographers who can showcase familiar subjects in unfamiliar ways that make their work memorable.  

Additionally, photography is a means of self -expression and relying on popular shots might inhibit the development of your unique tone and voice as a photographer. 

You can check out past entries from the 2022 K12 Photography Competition in the virtual gallery.  

Mistake #8: Using Plagiarized or Non-Original Content 

With the expanse of the digital age and images circulating worldwide in mere seconds, the temptation to replicate work can feel irresistible. But, using plagiarized or non-original content in photography is not just a lapse in creativity, it carries profound ethical and legal repercussions, and will disqualify you from the competitions  

Inspiration can be drawn from various sources and there’s a fine line between being inspired and directly lifting content. Respecting this boundary is not only a testament to your integrity but also a commitment to the sanctity and ethos of photography.  

Click here read the official rules and to learn more plagiarism regarding entries in the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition.  

Mistake #9 – Overlooking Judging Criteria 

When submitting your work to photography competitions, there’s an often-underestimated factor that can make or break one’s chances: the judging criteria. While it might seem obvious to some, many photographers can sideline this essential component. 

The judging criteria for the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition is based on presentation, originality, and technical skill.  

Click here to read details about the judging criteria for the 2023 K12 In Focus Photography Competition.  

Mistake #10: Missing Small Details 

In the world of photography, it’s not just the image itself that matters. The way it’s presented can make a difference, often swaying perceptions, and judgments. One of the subtle pitfalls that photographers can fall into is neglecting seemingly minor details such as framing and cropping.  

Frames are more than decorative borders; they’re a tool to draw focus, enhance the subject, and can even enhance the story behind the photograph.  

Boarders can add depth, make colors pop, and accentuate the mood of the photograph. A well-chosen frame or border can accentuate the subject, making the image more immersive and engaging. 

If you are looking for inspiration, check out the virtual gallery featuring winners and finalists from last year’s photography competition.  

Wrapping Up  

In the ever-evolving world of photography, it’s not just about capturing a moment; it’s about understanding the nuances that make each snapshot truly shine. Photography competitions are more than platforms to showcase talent, they are platforms for growth, learning, and connecting with a broader audience. 

Navigating a photo competition can seem daunting; however, armed with insights and commitment to authenticity, you’re well poised to truly shine.  

Don’t let this chance slip by. Click here to enter now and give your work the platform it deserves. It’s your moment. Capture it, in focus.