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Are Photo Contests Worth it?

This is a question I’ve been asked a lot about because there are a lot of different opinions on the matter. Some say photo contests are great and others not so. Like everything else in photography it does come down to your own preference. For me I personally don’t go for contests anymore because I don’t think they are worth the effort. Then as it just so happened, an editor friend of mine turned me onto this one photo contest the Mountain Outlaw Magazine was doing and I was intrigued.

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For those of you that haven’t heard of the publication it’s a semi-annual magazine, one of many owned by Outlaw Partners LLC out of Big Sky, Mt and Bend Oregon. First thing about that is the phrase semi-annual. They have a winter and a summer issue, that means for six months anything published in those issues is on the rack for that period of time. That’s a long time for one image. Whether you win or don’t win being having that much exposure for so long is pretty nice for minimal work. Simple business really.

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One of the major variables in this particular contest is the fact that it is a portrait contest, not something I usually do but I had some candidates for. Next every finalist gets published. My goal has always been to make the most out of every project I do and this is no different. The odds of getting one photo selected are just as good as a photo submission for an article so why not if the payout is six months on the magazine rack. Not bad if you ask me. Sure enough that’s what happened. Finally the images I selected are all about the African Artisans I worked with last year on my trip to Swaziland you are constantly in need of support. With that in mind all the pieces seemed to come together for this contest.

My advice is for anyone out there thinking about doing a contest, to make sure you consider all the variables and all the possibilities that come with entering not just the grand prize. Often that prize isn’t as good as what might else you are able to get out of it if you are creative.

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