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The essentials: top tips when entering photography competitions

4 years ago

As professional photographers, succeeding in a photo competition is probably high on the priority list, but what does it take to make your image or body of work stand out from those thousands of other entries? To make it to the shortlist and beyond, you need to submit something that makes the judging panel sit up, look again and want to know more. Below are our top tips for succeeding in photography competitions.

1. Master technique 
There are so many good photographs created today that high-quality images were the norm for the judges during the selection process. The images that made it onto the 2019 shortlists were those that had that little bit extra. Those photographers who strived for excellence in their imagery went further. 

2. Bring a fresh perspective
Images highly derivative in style often fall at the first hurdle. A photograph might tell a familiar story or depict a subject seen time and again, but it can be incredibly exciting if the photographer’s approached it from a more distinctive point of view. 

3. Choose what connects 
Art that’s endured is normally the piece which speaks to the viewer. Images that communicate an idea or emotion in a clear and effective way went far in the 2019 Awards.

4. Narrative
With 326,000 images entered into this year’s competition, superficial photographs didn’t last long in the 2019 judging process. The judges were excited by the entries telling captivating stories about humanity and the contemporary world. 

5. Read the rules
It's an obvious one but the most important. Read the rules and then read them again. Great entries can be disqualified because they don't adhere to the rule. The Professional competition rules can be found here, the Open competition rules are here, Youth are here and Student are here

6. Choose the right category 
Give some serious thought to what category you choose. Don't expect the judges to move your submission into a more fitting category. 

7. Think about the final output 
The shortlisted entries to the Sony World Photography Awards have to work on a variety of platforms. While most of the images are viewed digitally through the World Photography Organisation website and social media channels, the final presentation of the works in exhibition and book form is key. Photographs that had the potential to retain power when taken off a backlit screen went far.

Enter your best work to the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards! Have a striking standalone image you think will go far? Enter our Open competition. Believe your series of images will captivate and inspire? Enter our Professional competition. If you're aged between 12 to 19, the Youth competition's for you, or if you're photography student, enter our Student competition.