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fear of failure
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Why Enter Photography Competitions?
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Why Enter Photography Competitions?

Why Enter?

Let's face it - there are plenty of ways for you to get better at photography. One of the best, in my opinion, is by entering print competitions.

Now I'm not talking about those competitions where you pay a bunch of money to enter and they are judged by people with no real credentials. I'm talking about competitions that are sanctioned by reputable associations like WPPI or PPA.

PPA

Personally, I'm a big fan of Professional Photographers of America and their print competitions. The have a very well thought out structure in place. The judging is done in a controlled setting by people who have gone through a rigorous screening and training process. It is truly the gold standard of print competitions.

Why Enter?

But why should you spend the time and money to enter? I used to wonder the exact same thing. Why not just attend a competition and learn from others? The problem is, watching something and doing something are two very different animals. If you are watching someone else' work get judged, you don't have the personal involvement.

When it is YOUR work, however - you take it much more seriously. When a small mistake causes you to lose points, you will remember it and not make the mistake next time. That is what makes it such a great experience. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, as long as you LEARN from the mistakes.

DOWNSIDE

So what is the downside? Well, there is a certain amount of cost involved - but that is the case for almost any form of valuable education.

The biggest downside is having to expose yourself to a stranger's critique. We all like to think we are think-skinned, but when it is your beloved art piece being judged, you can't help but take it a little personally. The key is to not let fear of failure keep you from even trying. If you enter four prints and they all get 75s, that is still 300 more points than the person who didn't enter.

The best quote I ever heard dealing with this was by Teddy Roosevelt....

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

T. Roosevelt, Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

When you look at it that way, what do you have to lose?

Go For It!

Take some time to brush up on your Photoshop skills and expose yourself to more great art. You can even check out various photography websites that will introduce you to other talented photographers. As you absorb this information and try it out in competition, you will be amazed at how your skill grows by leaps and bounds. Trust me - in five years you will look at the stuff you are creating today and say, "Wow- I've come a long way!"

Now into the arena you go! Best of luck!


Street Talk

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