Twice a year I submit images to The Portrait Masters for a photography competition where I can win awards and also get points toward accreditation of becoming a Master Photographer. The awards given are Bronze, Silver or Gold, with Silver and Gold being the hardest to achieve. I submitted 9 photos. Out of over 9,000 entries I got 7 Bronze and was shocked to receive 2 SILVER! Out of 9,000 entries only 357 earned SILVER and I received 2 out of that!!
It is a really great thing to submit to these type of contests. For one, you are putting your work out there for all to see, even though that's somewhat scary. What if people don't like it? What if someone says something mean? Will it make me want to just give up? Believe me, not everyone likes all of my pictures all of the time. Especially when you are starting out, you get excited when you learn any little thing so maybe you post your photo in a Facebook group to see what others think of it. A couple of years ago I had just gotten a new lens and was super excited to try it out, so I took my husband and baby daughter to a park and had them sit in a field of yellow wild flowers. Is it a little weird maybe for a guy to just be sitting with his baby in a field of flowers? Maybe, but I didn't have anyone else to try out my lens on that day. I was also just really learning how to make composite images, so I ended up adding all these little woodland animals around them in the photo and created a pond in front of them with their reflection in it. I thought it was the cutest thing ever! I couldn't wait to show my new skills off to other photographers in my Facebook group. Well,....almost the first comment was from a man saying that he didn't like it and because I had my husband sitting in wildflowers with a baby, he thought it made him seem "unmanly". I was crushed. I still don't agree with it. I thought it was a beautiful thing for a man, a husband, a Father, to be sitting holding his child in a beautiful field of flowers. Mothers do it all the time! Fathers should also be seen and visible in photos with their children.
I kind of went off on a little rabbit trail there with my story, so, getting back to why it's important to share your photos with others, in contests, and in groups. Photography and editing takes a long time to learn, there are people who know much more than I do and have been doing it longer, and those are the people you should welcome constructive criticism from. The contest I mentioned above has some of the most brilliant photographers in our industry judging the photos. That is who you want, and that is who you should listen to. Don't get your feelings hurt if some ding dong in a Facebook group doesn't like your photo. Not everyone will like everything, maybe it's just not their taste or style. I, however, do appreciate when someone gives great and helpful feedback about issues like my lighting or posing or maybe the color toning of an image is painful to the eyes! Those things are very helpful and will help you learn to become a better photographer!
Here are my images that won at Portrait Masters September 2020.