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Photography Competitions and Prizes

February 2020

Hey friends!

It's hard to believe that in just one month the number of subscribers to this newsletters has doubled. You're still a small but perfectly formed audience, of course, but I'm thrilled at how fast word has spread already.

I hope that you were inspired to enter some competitions last month. It does take a lot of prep work for the bigger competitions and grants, but once you've done it once you're halfway to the next one! But here's a bit of advice - when you spend hours handcrafting those incredible work descriptions and artists statements directly into the competition website, make sure you save them somewhere for next time too!

Don't forget to get your tickets for The Photography Show in March. As always, it's one of the biggest events on the UK photography calendar and will be full of amazing speakers. I'm going to try and get up there for at least two days - my top tip is to try and see Amy Shore speaking on the Nikon stand. She's inspirational.

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.


The Baron Prize
If your work addresses issues of sex, sexuality, and identity politics then this one is for you. Each entry must be accompanied by a 500-word artists statement that contextualises the work.
The prize is £1000 cash and £1000 in photography books and magazines, and your closing date for entries is 29th March 2020.

The Visual Art Open 2020
An unusual and very worthwhile prize for this one. Not only do you get a £1000 cash prize if you're the overall winner, but you also win a mentoring package and stand space at the Chester Art Fair in 2021.
If you're looking to launch your fine art career then this could be a fantastic opportunity.
Deadline is the 29th February 2020, so get your skates on!

Talk Photography Awards
This is a new award and the theme is mental health. All money raised from the entry fees will support the TALK charity, who will be running art-based events to support those with mental health setbacks.
The top 15 entrants will win a place in an exhibition at WEX, while the overall winner will receive £4500 of prizes, including a coveted Sony A7rIII camera.
Entries close on March 22nd.

Love in London 2020
This competition was quite literally set up to share the love after the Grenfall Tower disaster and will this year be raising funds for Relate, the relationship charity. It's just £3 to enter, but you could share part of the £5000 prize fund made up of various different prizes including billboard and publication placement, cameras, and software.
The themes are all centred around 'love' and aren't just about London. Closing date is 3rd March 2020.

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!

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.

Personal Growth and Photography

I recently revisited a series of images that I shot in my mid-twenties (that's almost a decade ago) for an article I was writing. At the time I was working full time as a product and fashion photographer in London. To the outside world, I was living the dream. Who wouldn't want to be working with some of the top male models in the commercial fashion industry on a regular basis, and photographing incredible clothes (and handbags) day in day out?

But the truth was that it was killing me. I was low paid and spending a third of my (pre-tax) salary on getting into London five days a week. I was leaving home at 6am and not getting back until almost 8pm, before doing it again the next day.

I remember probably my lowest point. It was winter so the sun wasn't coming up until after I got into the studio, and the sun was going down before I left for home. I sat on the freezing floor in Camden market with a bowl of noodles while the rain fell on me. If I didn't sit outside, I wouldn't see the sun until the next day at lunchtime.

I'm telling you this because I also want to tell you that just because everyone else thinks you're living the dream by following your passion, you don't have to stick it out if you're not enjoying it.

It's only now, almost ten years on, that I've started to really feel the passion for photography again. It's always been there in the background, of course, but it's right now that I'm producing my best work ever, focussing on social issues and exploring fine art themes.

My Nan used to say that creative types often seem to have a sadness about them. She said I had a "sensitive soul" which I think, looking back, referred to me being a rather melancholy child. I know that many creatives suffer from mental health setbacks, and I also know that many avoid seeking treatment because they're afraid they will lose their creative edge.

I guess all I'm saying is that you shouldn't feel like you have to live up to the stereotype of a tortured artist. If you need help then please reach out and ask for it. Someone will be there to catch you.

And I also want you to be open to the idea of something photography-adjacent as being a great alternative to a career as a photographer. I suppose what changed my life was discovering art history and going to university for the first time at 27. Now at 35 I'm in the middle of my first year of a PhD and enjoying shooting work based on the paintings I'm studying!

Anyway, I'll leave with you the link to the article I wrote recently that has the series of images that I made on my commute to work every day as a fashion photographer. I didn't remember them being so dark until I dug them out and looked back on them.

Read the Article Here
Awards and Grants

Awards and grants usually take a bit more work than photography competition entries, but the pay-off can be worth it.

The British Journal of Photography and CALM
The BJP is looking to commission a photographer to work with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to document street homelessness in London. The photographer will also be asked to mentor ten homeless people in London who will be given cameras. What an incredible opportunity.
It's a £10,000 award and the closing date is 23rd March 2020.

Julia Margaret Cameron Award
Now in its 15th year, this one is almost exclusively for women (men can apply in just one category). There is $21,500 in awards up for grabs, as well as three solo exhibitions. The three winners also get international gallery representation which truly is a money-can't-buy prize.
There are so many categories that one is bound to fit your work. Deadline is 29th March 2020.

Getty Images Climate Visuals Grant
They're looking for a photographer with a high level of skill that can produce a compelling visual narrative on the subject of climate change. You'll need to already be working on a project or have one in mind.
The award is $10,000 and the deadline for entries is 28th February 2020.

Fourth Rebecca Vassie Memorial Award
A £2000 cash bursary, £1000 of printing, and expenses to meetings with mentors is up for grabs here. They're actively looking for culturally diverse applicants, non-binary applicants, or disabled applicants, but applications are accepted from anyone. Must be a British Citizen, but cannot be in full-time education - boo for me.
The award closes on the 27th March 2020.

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 then make sure you let me know! I'd love to feature prize-winning photographers and their images in these monthly newsletters.

Until next month!
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