Enter Soapbox Rant Here

I get weekly emails suggesting photo contests to students.  Often, I don’t post them, with good reason. Or so I think.  You can decide for yourself. contest rules

If you look at the complete contest rules, as you should always do before entering any work, often I find that the contest can be a way to get some quality photographs without having to pay for each of them.  After receiving too many of these in one week, I finally snapped and wrote a response:

Hello.  I received an email about the ********* Photography contest. Though it may seem like a good idea to send these contests to art/photo professors and other people that may publicize these contests, the fact is when I look at the contest rules, it says photos that don’t win will be kept and possibly used in the future without compensation.  That doesn’t seem like a positive, and is a bit disrespectful of the field in general. If the contest claimed that photos not selected to win prizes or mentions would not be used, this would not be an issue.  But as the contest rules stand, as much as I like your products I will not be promoting this or other contests of this nature.
Consider this: if you were a part time writer that wrote an article for a magazine that the editor rejected, would you then be okay if they decide to print it at a future date with no compensation or notification?  It basically means you should work for free. It’s this same concept that has wedding photographers going out of business as people ask beginning photographers to work for pennies, or try to hire students for nothing “for the experience”.  The value of an image should be on what is created, not the title of the person that made it.  Even if the contest suggests amateurs, as a photo professor I see this as part of the systemic devaluing of photography. It might not be your intention, but something worth considering.

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