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Photography Competitions and Prizes

January 2020

Hey friends!

Welcome to the first edition of my photography competition newsletter. I'll be trying to send this out monthly so that together we can enter competitions, grow our photography, and find success.

I've always felt like competitions are a great way to improve both your creative and technical skills. So I wanted to start this newsletter to complement the writing and educating that I already do when it comes to photography. I also realised that many of the competitions run by art institutions are often not mentioned in photography circles, so my aim is to get you entering some of those too!

Below you'll find a roundup of some of the competitions that I think look most interesting. And each month I'll try to include a whole variety of kinds of photography so that hopefully there's something for everyone.

Please do get in touch if you hear about a competition you think should go in the newsletter, or if you have ideas about what should be in the newsletter.

Open for Submission

The AOP Awards
Short for the Association of Photographers, these awards celebrate the best photography happening amongst their professional members. If you're making money out of photography and you're not already a member you really should take a look, they're effectively a trade union for photographers.
The competition is open now, has student and emerging talent awards, and closes at various points throughout March and April.

Landscape Photographer of the Year
Now, I'm far too impatient to shoot landscapes. All that chasing the sunrise interferes with my morning coffee-and-Facebook routine. But if landscapes are your thing then you'll definitely want to enter this competition.
The overall winner gets £10,000 so it's certainly worth entering. You've got until the 5th April to enter, or perhaps even get out and shoot some new images!

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
Here's one with a prestigious history. The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition has run without interruption since 1769. It's a completely open exhibition - if you pay the entry fee then you can enter whatever art you want. And photography has historically had a strong showing there too.
The submission deadline is the 17th Feb, so you need to get your skates on if you'd like to be in with a chance of being in this fabulous exhibition.

Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year
This is more my kind of thing - I love eating food. I mean I love photographing it too, but mostly I like eating. If you're more into the photographing it than the eating then these awards provide a great platform to gain loads of exposure for your work.
Deadline is 5th Feb though, so you'll have to work quickly.

Female in Focus Award
This one is pretty special. The British Journal of Photography noticed that the percentage of women entering and winning photography awards was very low compared to men, so they set up a women's competition.
Last year it was really successful and this year I imagine the competition will be fierce.
You've got until the start of March to enter this one, and the prize is a prestigious exhibition in New York where there will be plenty of artists reps, galleries, and photographers in attendance.

Oxford Brookes Think Human Festival
Lastly, a bit of a shout out to one that is close to my heart. I've been a student at Oxford Brookes for the last eight years and they have a brilliant and diverse arts programme at the university. The Glass Tank gallery always has good shows, and they've recently launched a photography degree.
The biannual Think Human festival this year is focussing on the theme of 'Relationships' and photographers are being invited to submit images for exhibition in the University's gallery later in the year.
Get your entry in and hopefully, we'll both be invited to the private view! You've got until the start of March.

The Environmental Impact of Photography Competitions

I remember being a young photographer (it seems so long ago now) avidly reading the photography magazines that were available on the high street. They all had their own year-long competitions and I would fiercely devour the content each month.

But as much as these grand features provided inspiration, they were also pretty dispiriting. I knew, as a twenty-year-old working for minimum wage, that I wouldn't be able to afford the kinds of trips that were required to shoot the exotic images that always won.

Shots of camel trains in the desert, wrinkled old Indian men, and starving children in Africa - these were the mainstays of the photography magazine competition scene at the time. And many of these tropes still endure.

It makes me sad, in a way, that these 'exotic' shots consistently win so many competitions that have their roots in British institutions. They encourage the kind of lifestyle that simply isn't sustainable for our planet in the long run. 

I'm hoping that as Greta Thunberg spreads the message that we have one planet and we must look after it, that photography competitions start to focus more on local imagery. It might seem like a small and irrelevant goal compared to other environmental action, but each small part adds up to a larger whole. 

Until "local" photography is given the same kudos as the exotic, we're going to struggle in the wider world of image-making. So perhaps if you're active in a local camera club you could suggest that they introduce an annual competition where images have to be taken within a 10-mile radius - that could provide a good challenge and a way of bringing the focus back to the local area!

Anyway, I'll leave with you just a little link to an article that I wrote recently on how we can consider our environmental footprint as photographers. I think it's an incredibly important thing to think about at the moment, and I hope that you do too.

Read the Article Here
Just for fun

Sometimes you just want to have a bit of fun, and that's what Gurushots is all about. With dozens of competitions open at any moment, there's always something that you can enter. Play tactically, learn to swap your images at the right time, and work your way up the ranks to become a Guru!

Have you won a photography competition recently? If you have, drop me a line and tell me! I'd love to feature prize-winning photographers and their images in these monthly newsletters.

Until next month!
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