To an up-and-coming photographer or artistic, an award win can really feel like a make-or-break level of their profession. It could possibly be an opportunity – or THE probability – to be elevated to the subsequent profession degree, earn the respect of friends, the eye of brokers, and entice new purchasers, with some free PR besides.
There may be additionally the concern of lacking out. It’s straightforward for folks to really feel that they need to be getting into each award they see within the hope that they win certainly one of them.
However is that this the appropriate strategy?
What to think about earlier than getting into awards
Over the previous decade, there have been an increasing number of artistic trade awards showing throughout pictures, artistic & design, promoting, PR, and advertising and marketing. Presently, there are such a lot of awards that there are various individuals who can name themselves “an award-winning artistic” or “an award-winning photographer’.”
So now I’ve to ask: is it price getting into awards? And the way do you resolve which awards are price getting into and which you’ll be able to miss?
There aren’t any trade requirements or accountability for award our bodies. Anybody can arrange an award for a selected trade or commerce. This implies you must look very fastidiously at every award – which physique or group has set it up, how concerned are they within the trade, how nicely revered are they?
After which there’s the all vital query of prices.
Organizations can set their very own charges for award entries, so these can differ vastly from just a few kilos to a whole lot of kilos. And if you add that up over the yr, the ultimate tally may be startling.
This mix of charges over one yr may be actually prohibitive for many individuals, no matter expertise or the place you’re in your profession. In fact, that is particularly troublesome for younger people who find themselves nonetheless increase their careers and wish to take any attainable alternative.
General, it’s actually vital to have a look at the prices and the way they stack up in addition to work out whether or not you actually do get a return on this outlay. Is it well worth the prices in return for an opportunity of successful?
As a barely extra cynical freelancer, it could possibly be mentioned that there are some awards that aren’t essentially there to help folks within the trade and are simply there to show a revenue.
In fact, all awards and ceremonies must be worthwhile, however is it nonetheless price assessing whether or not the corporate behind it performs its half within the trade, or are they merely simply getting cash from the awards? Typically, the businesses behind the excessive profile and worthwhile awards play a component in supporting the trade with varied campaigns and initiatives.
So what must you ask earlier than you commit these treasured enterprise funds to getting into an award?
The primary query to ask is how nicely regarded the awards are and discover out what they imply to different revered folks in your subject. How lengthy have they been going? How a lot publicity do you get from an award win announcement?
Put a while apart to determine which awards are essentially the most established and acknowledged in your trade, and take a look at the earlier winners. Who’re the earlier winners and did they get any publicity from successful the award? You may see what sort of protection they obtained from their award win with a fast search engine session.
The following step is to determine how probably you’re to win.
Do some small-scale danger evaluation, weighing up the price, how lengthy it could take you to write down out or fill out the appliance and the way probably you assume you will win that class. Take the time to learn all of the entry standards and make an knowledgeable resolution on the time it should take you and the monetary price of entry.
Examine your work matches neatly into one of many classes and can sit properly amongst previous winners.
Take a look at the judging panel and the previous winners for clues as as to whether your work matches the class and the award. If there’s any doubt that your venture or your work doesn’t match precisely into the particular standards, then you definately positively must assume twice about making use of. You would have essentially the most breathtaking pictures but when it doesn’t match the temporary, you’ll not win.
Along with the precise monetary price of getting into an award, you have to calculate the time it takes to arrange an award entry. In the event you’re going to do it correctly, then it may take hours to get all the data collectively, write out the entry info, and submit it.
It’s additionally actually vital to learn via the phrases and situations of every award. Contemplate whether or not it’s well worth the probability of handing over your work in change for publicity. In the event you’re a photographer, that is misplaced utilization charges, as you’re signing over your images to be featured – and so they could possibly be utilized by a number of publications. In fact, at all times be sure you retain the copyright for each certainly one of your photographs.
Typically pictures awards include the promise of a showcase exhibition, however in fact, in the course of the pandemic, this chance has in all probability ceased in the meanwhile in lots of cities, so that’s now not the pull that it as soon as was.
Awards books and publications are additionally in all probability going to be sitting in empty workplace put up rooms as an increasing number of creatives proceed to make money working from home.
With no assure that you just’ll get your awards charges and occasion night time ticket charges again in commissions inside the yr, it’s not a useless cert of a enterprise funding.
And in conclusion…
As a longtime freelance photographer, I’ve entered loads of awards myself – some I’ve received and a few I haven’t. I now strongly consider you do not want to enter each award that’s going with a purpose to progress and develop your profession.
It’s at all times price taking the time to do the analysis and making a strategic resolution about getting into an award. Coming into only one or two well-respected awards with a extremely robust venture or single picture is a much better use of your time, than blanket-entering all the things you see. In the event you do win, be sure you actually push all publicity angles to make it totally price your time.
And importantly, do not forget that successful an award won’t make or break your profession. For the big half, the one folks and taking as a lot discover as you’re different photographers. In case your work is robust and you set your self on the market, you’ll slowly construct up an excellent portfolio.
Concerning the writer: Jon Enoch is a London-based award-winning way of life and portrait photographer. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the writer. He not too long ago received the Smithsonian pictures prize 2020 and was shortlisted for the Sony World Photograph 2020 award for his Hanoi images. To see extra of Jon’s work, go to his web site or observe him on Instagram at @jonenochphoto.