Photo Feedback

Castelnuova, Gold Award, 1995 Australian Professional Photography Awards. You can read about this image in Peter's new book, The New Tradition. Details on the website.

The most important award I ever received was coming second. It was back in 1995 when I aspired to produce great photographs like Doug Spowart, Rob Imhoff, Ken Redpath and John Whitfield-King. Of course I also admired the work of Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Irving Penn, but they were the international legends while Doug, Rob, Ken and John were the leading photographers in the AIPP.

And then at the end of the awards that year, I was standing on stage next to Tim Griffith who was the AIPP Australian Professional Photographer of the Year. Was I bummed that I only came second? Hell, no! I was amazed that I was even on the same stage – that the judges put my photography in the same league.

However, second place wasn’t the real prize, it was the gold and silver awards for my four prints. Winning first or second is a preference and there’s only one of each, while gold, silver and bronze awards are a standard and there is no limit to how many will be handed out. It’s not up to the judges, it’s up to the entrants to reach that standard.

We all love receiving likes and hearts on Facebook and Instagram, but how does your work stack up in the real world? Earning a bronze award tells you you’re on the right track, a silver award is a real mark of achievement. And a gold award – I wish I knew how to get more of them myself!

Entries into the 2018 Better Photography Photo of the Year Awards close on 31 October 2018, so there's still time to enter - and who knows, you could be part of the $17,000 prize pool too! For more details, visit www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com now!

Gold Award by Kath Salier, 2016 Creative Category, Better Photography Photo of the Year Award

I realise as the magazine’s editor I have a vested interest in encouraging readers to enter our annual photography competition, but I believe I practice what I preach.

My life, my career and my success as a photographer is directly attributable to photography competitions. Yes, I’ve been lucky to win a few competitions, but I’ve entered far more where my results have been less than stellar!

The reason for my success as a photographer isn’t because I’ve won competitions, but because I have spent the time entering them. Now, don’t get me wrong! I try to win every competition I enter, but win, lose or draw, I’m a winner because I’ve spent time making my entries better.

Simple, isn’t it.

The mere process of putting your best foot forward, of refining your skills as a photographer to enter an image into a competition is how you improve. While the results are important, they’re not. What’s important has already happened just before you enter the competition.

Entries into the 2018 Better Photography Photo of the Year Awards close on 31 October 2018, so there's still time to enter - and who knows, you could be part of the $17,000 prize pool too! For more details, visit www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com now!

I suggest you approach photography competitions as a game. After all, it's only a matter of opinion. Most importantly, you need to like your own photographs and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.

Of course, anyone can take a photograph, but does it have value? Do other people enjoy viewing it? Could you do it better? If, like me, you are interested in improving your photography, then entering photography competitions is a great way of getting honest feedback from people who have some expertise.

However, don't assume the judges from just one competition are right! Remember, the results of a photography competition are only a matter of opinion. Years ago, I entered a photograph in two competitions. At the local camera club, the judge told me the photo had no artistic merit and I should consider giving up photography. At the Sydney International Salon, it won first prize. Two different judges, two different opinions. Which one is right?

So, if you were to enter your photograph in two or three competitions and you received low scores in all of them, then you have two choices.

First, you can disregard the results. Personally, the photograph may still remain a firm favourite and this is completely valid. Second, you can take the results on the chin and look more critically at your work and how you can improve. One suggestion here is to put the photo away for 3 or 6 months and then look at it with fresh eyes. It's amazing how often a little time proves the judging panel correct, especially when we're at the beginning of our photography journey.

Of course, if you have a great photograph, then whether it wins or not is to some extent a matter of luck. No matter how good your photograph is, you have no control over how amazing someone else's images are, or how the judges respond to your technique, subject matter and emotion. That's why I recommend aiming to be in the top 20 percent and, eventually, one of your images is likely to be a winner.

Check out our e-book on How To Win Photo Competitions on our Better Photography Education website - you can find it here.

And, of course, you can enter our current Better Photography Photo of the Year Competition - details are here.

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