It must be photo contest season. Hardly a day goes by without me seeing at least one notification about an upcoming photography competition. Some have substantial prizes, others offer recognition and exposure. Are they worth it? And what are you getting yourself into? The answers are in the fine print. You do read all the contest rules, don’t you?
As most of you—hopefully—did as well, I read the latest NANPA handbooks, Bird Photography and Contest Secrets, this past month.
In Contest Secrets, Karen Schuenemann makes a valid point in her article “Getting from No to Yes.” Ms. Schuenemann said, “If you sit back and don’t put in the effort, you already have a NO. If you don’t try something that you dream about doing, you already have a NO. If you don’t attempt to do anything at all, you already have a NO.”
This is a twist on something I frequently say to people: “If you don’t ask for a yes, you already have a no.”
Although many people across North America aren’t even thinking about this colorful season, and won’t for several months, here in Colorado it has already started. The tundra started turning red and gold a couple of weeks ago. The bull elk have started bugling outside of my door here in Estes Park. The weather forecast is showing some really cool temperatures for the first week of September, providing some nice opportunities for frost and fog in the meadows. And I have already started to see some pops of gold on the aspen trees.
NANPA member Wendy Shattil is a full-time professional wildlife photographer with a list of accomplishments as long as your arm. She’s no stranger to awards and photo competitions, having won her first (of many) awards back in 1972. But did you know she was one of the people most responsible for creating NANPA’s Showcase photo competition, which grew out of a member photo slideshow at the 1999 NANPA Summit? She continues to be involved in the competition and administers the entire process. So, who better to give you some tips for selecting your best images, insight into the judging process and the critical role that good captions play.
It is always amazing to look back through my collection of
older NANPA Expressions magazines (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019) featuring the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition for that year. I may be missing a few years in my collection, but I am sure the photos in those years are incredible too. NANPA has a lot of really, really talented photographers and I am always in awe of the award-winning nature images our members capture. Occasionally, I have been fortunate to have an image place in the top 250 and I always enjoy seeing my photograph along with all of the other spectacular photos.