Winning Photography Competitions

I know Iv’e been tweeting, facebooking and google plussing like a trojan about my recent win. My apologies but I do have another reason other than being chuffed to bits.

Entering competitions, and winning them is great for your profile as a photographer.  It gets your images seen by new people, not just your followers and friends. It gives you something to talk about on your blog and social networks. It gets you talked about, shared and mentioned. It gives buyers the confidence that you are good at what you do.

So yes, I’m going to mention it again, sorry, but it’s relevant:)


RHS Photographer of the year

foxgloves and bee RHS Photographer of the year 2014

foxgloves and bee RHS Photographer of the year 2014  – click to purchase image


One month when searching for photography competitions that were ending soon this one came up. Now and again I search for “Photography Competition (put month) 2014” to find current competitions. At first I didn’t think I had anything good enough or appropriate for the theme. It’s important to choose something that really fits the theme, don’t try and squeeze an ambiguous square peg into  a round hole. Then I remembered the foxgloves image. It ticked all the boxes to be a contender, it was a good quality image and it would stand out, few garden images are taken this way, most being macro and few use flash.

It was important to make a reasonably objective decision as to wether your image a chance when there is an entry fee. I only pay to enter after careful consideration otherwise it could become an expensive hobby rather than a means to get exposure, kit or cash.

How can you tell which are the best images to enter?

Choose ones that get the most attention online. Watch your stats and work out which have the widest appeal, I covered some of the ways to do this in my last post.

Of course you don’t always win. People are always saying to me “You always win competitions, I never win” to which I usually say “when did you last enter one?”. You need to be in it to win it. The more you enter the more chance you have of winning. Although I seem to win things all the time, I actually loose a lot more often. Competitions that have online entries are very simple and quick to enter. The wider you cast your net the more likely you are to catch a fish.

Do check the rules and wether or not there is a fee before you fill it all out. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the end of the process before finding out it’s expensive to enter and the potential reward does not justify the cost

Enter as many free competitions you like but consider the paid entries carefully. Would it be great for publicity if you won? Do you actually want/need the prize or could you sell it?

I entered the RHS competition because it seemed like a high profile competition, it had a great prize and I had a good image.

Alan Titchmarsh Show RHS Photographer of the Year 2014

Alan Titchmarsh Show RHS Photographer of the Year 2014

I had no idea just how good the coverage would be when I entered. I was on the Alan Titchmarsh show on Tuesday to find out who the winner was, and to talk about my image. The show went live to over one million viewers.

My win has been in the Guardian, the Daily Express, the Telegraph, the RHS site, Yahoo and MSN  home pages. I will be the front page of my local free paper (The Brighton and Hove Independent) today, maybe in the Times at the weekend, and on loads of gardening, landscaping and photography blogs, the list is growing ant not just UK sites, they are all over the world being an international competition. My personal favourite headline was in Amateur Photographer “British Street Photographer Scoops Global Title“.  Kim Wilde even tweeted and now follows me on twitter!

The internet becomes your galley.

On top of all that I’ve never been more tweeted and shared before.

What I am trying to stress is that, learning which images to enter can become a great form of on-line marketing. Well worth the effort.


Photography competition top tips:

1/ Think about what springs to mind, then send in something completely different that still fits the theme. Sometimes there are thousands of entries you’ll need to stand out. Send images with the wow factor.

2/ Enter often, I usually pick a morning or afternoon at the end of the month and look for competitions ending that month or the next.

3/ Consider paid competitions carefully – are they prestigious, trustworthy organisers? There are many competitions out there which seem to offer little more than a fee.

4/ Avoid all vote to win competitions. I know Iv’e done a couple but they were a waste of time and I promise I’ll never embarrass myself or  put my friends and family through that again!

5/ Look out for local competitions as these will attract fewer entries


Other Winning Images


holyman india jaipur

holy man india jaipur – click to purchase image


Brighton Pride Pug

Brighton Pride Pug – click to purchase image


Louis Vuitton Puerto Banus spain

Louis Vuitton Puerto Banus Spain – click to purchase image


My Dog Stanmer Park Shadows

Me and my shadow – click to purchase image

6 replies
  1. Andrew Clifton-Brown
    Andrew Clifton-Brown says:

    Also, is it worth noting that you should read the terms and conditions of competitions? In some competitions you are just signing your image over to the competition organisers. Just a thought 🙂

  2. Heather Buckley
    Heather Buckley says:

    Hello Andy,

    Absolutely, avoid competitions that ask for ownership of the image as an entry requirement. Many will ask for rights for use in publicity, it’s up to you if you wish to participate, just make sure you know what the deal is before you make it.


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