Why Photography Contests Are Good for Business: 3 Arguments

photography-contests-are-good-for-business01Photo competitions have been around since the art of photography itself, but their history in itself doesn’t mean they are without detractors. On the one hand, there are those photo aficionados who tend to believe  that such contests are a sheer waste of time, organized by money- and rights-grabbing brutes with no real interest in the art. Yet, on the other, photo competitions do have value for the artists, since they prompt them to take an honest, objective look at their own work, cull it, curate it, and put their best foot forward. That’s why we at Virtual Photography Studio believe photography contests are good for business, no matter if you’re into wedding photography, glam, editorial, or photojournalism. They can help you carve out a niche and build a name for yourself and they can also do a whole lot more – join us as we explore three essential arguments in favor of photo contests.

#1 The money

It might sound petty, but one way to tell apart professional competitions from lame ones is the cash prizes. The winner of the International Photography Awards gets $10,000 in cash; the winner of the Deeper Perspective section within the same contest receives $5,000, and there’s also a $2,500 prize for the year’s best new photographer. If you win the grand prize of the Smithsonian Photo Contest you get $5,000 and there are also five $500 cash awards for the categories, plus a Readers’ Choice award worth just as much. The National Geographic Photo Contest awards its Grand Prize winner with $7,500 and each category winner with $2,500. Petty or not, when a serious chunk of cash is involved, one can’t help but think of how great money would be for making further investments into business.

#2 The exposure

Some photography contests are good for business even though they provide no actual cash prize, as is the case with the Photography Masters Cup. This competition asks for a $30 entrance fee and promises exposure in the PHOTO Paper Magazine, as well as several online media outlets. The above-mentioned IPA has had the work of its winners published on Buzzfeed, as well as on EYEMAZING. It goes without saying that some photo contests are great for exposure even only by sheer association (Smithsonian and National Geographic are two examples).photography-contests-are-good-for-business02

#3 The business leads

If you win the IPA, you get a trip to the prestigious Lucie Awards in NYC – and if you’re double lucky, you can even get your image selected for a 45-photo exhibition in the build-up for the show. And most local winners will get automatic exposure in local media outlets, irrespective of how prestigious the competition is – you can usually count on national/local pride to boost your prestige. Many previous winners of the contests mentioned above explained that photography contests are good for business because they allow you to become more connected with actual buyers in your niche. As such, winning the right contests is highly likely to ultimately boost your revenue.

Verdict: Top photography contests are good for business every time

Yes, we did say top photography contests are good for business – because the shady ones can actually be detrimental. Here are a few guidelines, if you’re looking to expand the notoriety of your wedding photography business by entering a contest and don’t know where to start:

–          Be wary of contests that charge entrance fees, but don’t offer any cash prizes. These are the money-hungry leeches we were referring to in the beginning.

–          Always, always read each competition’s policy on copyright. You do not want to give rights to your work for free, no matter how otherwise prestigious the contest sounds.

–          Make sure you enter the right category, when applying – and also check out the profile of each contest. Some are geared toward editorial work, while others tend to lean toward photojournalism more.

10 More Sites To Peruse For Freelance Photography Jobs

A while back I created a post 10 Sites To Find Freelance Photography Work. While all of these places are still available to help you find immediate work, I knew there had to be other places as well. Below is a list of more photography job sites for you to use and start finding the perfect job for you.

Simply Hired

A job posting board for a variety of occupations, including photography.

The CreativeLoft

A premium jobsite that posts only the best job offers within the photographic industry. Search by state, occupation or field.

[Read more…]

7 Tips For Visual Storytelling

You’re not just a photographer; you capture a story with a visual image.

The better you are at seeing the story unfold before you snap the shutter, the better your final product will be. That’s where the true art form comes into play. Some photographers look beyond the quick image, and look for a way to put a lot of emotion into one image.

If you want to improve your photography, improve your storytelling first.

1. The Who, What, Where, When and Why

The first rule of great storytelling is discovering the facts. Chances are you remember this assignment from your grade school days. Pick out any story in the newspaper, and you should quickly be able to pick out the 5 W’s – who, what, where, when and why. That’s the crux of a great story. It provides the details, and brings the reader in.

The same holds true in photography. What is your ultimate goal with a photograph? Center in on who you are photographing. What message are you trying to convey? Where are you going to capture the image? When will you be working with your subject? Why is this image important to you and to your subject? [Read more…]

Tell A Story with Focus For Humanity

A true photojournalist heads into the roughest conditions, the most unreachable places, and tells a story for the rest of the world to see.

Think about the images you’ve seen grace the covers of magazines like National Geographic. They can be truly breathtaking, and leave you in awe of what that part of the world must be like.

While that type of photography isn’t for everyone, you have to admire those that choose that type of lifestyle.

Focus For Humanity is an organization that offers grants and awards to photographers that choose to make this a lifestyle. Their mission is to provide financial support, resources and training for professional and amateur photographers who capture stories of shared humanity and support their work with various non-governmental organizations throughout the world.

Start by looking through the recent winners – the images there are inspiring. Then check out some of the other areas, they provide detailed information on grants, awards and mentoring.

Starting in April, they will be offering a mentorship program in which they will help you get started in this line of photography. Because expertise and guidance is what can help you achieve your goals in a much quicker fashion, their mentorship program pairs you up with someone who’s in the field and living this lifestyle.

Focus For Humanity subscribes to the guidelines of another organization, International Guild of Visual Peacemakers, which is also worth checking out. Their goal is to display common humanity and images that build bridges of peace. They also provide a wide variety of photo tours and workshops throughout the world.

Ways To Control The Wedding – A Photographers Guide To Becoming A Wedding Planner

Over the years, we’ve photographed hundreds of weddings. And when it comes to planning the wedding, there are two kinds of brides.

Cinderella – the type who takes control over every detail, planning day and night until the big event.

The Queen – She’s busy and relies on others to plan for her. She puts in her requests and lets a planner narrow down the choices. Then she makes final decisions.


Because Cinderella brides don’t rely on a planner, they go into their wedding day with high expectations and little direction. Because they’ve never put on a wedding before, they don’t have any idea how long an event should last, or how to structure the individual pieces of the day to make it run smoothly. In essence, they are lost the entire day, letting people control them as they move along.

With a Cinderella bride, you have to step in immediately, or risk being at the event many hours that day.

The easiest way to control a Cinderella bride is to gently make suggestions. Explain that you have photographed dozens or hundreds of brides, and know how to keep guests happy. Never put it back on her – tell her you know how to keep the party moving and exciting for each of her guests. She’ll quickly rely on you as the planner.

Then make suggestions.

[Read more…]

See A Story, Take A Picture, Make Some Money – The Future Of Photo Journalism

With a global community, finding the right photograph to go along with a story is important. As a photographer, being able to sell your photographs at the right price is equally important.

If you love photojournalism, and love finding the story as it happens, check out Demotix. Demotix allows you to take photographs, showcase them to the media, and make money.


Demotix has connections to major media buyers all over the world. From newspapers, magazines, television and websites, if the media needs a photograph, Demotix has a connection.

One of the major concerns with all photographers is copyrights. With Demotix, you retain your copyright. They sell your image either with non-exclusive rights for anything between $50 and $3000 USD. Or for exclusive rights for the highest price possible. In all cases, they split the fee with you 50/50.

Demotix is still fairly small, with 8300 members in 110 countries. Which means it’s a great time to climb on board and find your niche in photojournalism.

7 Ways To Be More Creative At Your Next Wedding

What is your idea of photojournalism? For many photographers, its simply snapping a candid of guests at the party, or of kids playing on the dance floor.

Photojournalism is so much more. It’s capturing the essence of the day through photography. It’s capturing emotion. It’s photographing something that tells a complete story within the image itself.

The easiest way to get more creative – become more photojournalistic – is to give yourself assignments. Spend just 2 minutes at each of these 7 items at your next wedding, and you are sure to see a difference in your photography.

1. Shoot from another camera’s perspective.


image source neona’s photostream 

2. Look for action/reaction. Shoot the main action, then flip around 180 degrees and get the reaction to the main action.

[Read more…]

Photography For A Cause

There are two sides to photography. The for-profit side, where we become photographers to capture images for clients. And the photojournalistic side where people become photographers to tell a story.

Andrew and I fall into the first category, and have made our living traveling to where our clients fly us. We love sharing in the dreams, the hopes, and the fun of some extraordinary people.

But part of me has always been mesmerized by a photojournalist – out in intense situations bringing back photographs that truly do speak 1,000 words.

Check out James Nachtwey’s amazing new photographs for XDRTB.