ACMP

ACMP Competition Guidelines

Photography Competition

Entry Terms & Conditions

 - Guidelines (Recommendations) -

Introduction:

There are a plethora of painting competitions, both professional & amatuer, and an increasing number of amatuer photographic compatitions.  But professional photographic competitions remain relatively scarce.  Consequently they can result in excellent publicity for the organisers, attracting very good media attention.  So spending some of the advertising budget on a photographic competition can be an exceedingly efficient and effective way of putting the money to work.  Art competitions/exhibitions reach an audience in a way that direct, paid, advertising cannot.      

 

There are many issues to consider when writing the terms and conditions of entry.  Professional photographers will not enter competitions that are designed to benefit only the organisers or which seem to be unfairly weighted.  Good wording encourages the best photographers to enter and avoids potential headaches.  A sizeable investment of time & effort at the planning stage will save time, and perhaps money, later on.    A thoughtfully arranged and well-run competition benefits everyone - organisers, sponsors, photographers, the general public and the media.

 

It is important to stress that while competition organisers may well have the entrant's best interests at heart, it is essential that entry terms and conditions are clearly written.  Nothing should be assumed - assumptions lead to misunderstandings.  Clearly explained t & c will give the largest number of photographers the confidence to enter.

 

Considerable time and effort has been invested in ensuring the following suggested terms and conditions are very comprehensive.  The following list has been put together with large, professional-quality, national competitions in mind, however many of the points are also worth the consideration of organisers of smaller competitions designed for local amateur photographers.  Copyright issues and other principles are the same.  However every competition is different, so there are a number of choices to make.  It is recommended that consideration be given to what is most appropriate for your particular circumstances, so that the most suitable t & c are used on your entry form. 

 

When planning, it is recommended that organisers write the specific aim/s of the competition down on paper, to help clarify the goals and ensure committee agreement.  This should include 'what's in it for entrants', not just 'what's in it for organisers'.  Spending time on clearly writing out the main aims will make writing efficient t & c much quicker and easier.

 

ACMP are happy to assist organisers by reading through competition entry terms and conditions, which are at the draft stage, with a view to suggesting improvements if necessary.

 

However it is essential to emphasise that competition organisers are themselves responsible for ensuring that legal and organisational  issues are satisfactorily covered by their entry form t & c. 

 

ACMP cannot endorse any competitions run by others.  However competitions that appear to be well organised and well run will receive a favourable mention on the ACMP members email forum..

 

 

A)    ENTRY TERMS & CONDITIONS THAT ARE MOST LIKELY TO NEGLECTED or OVERLOOKED COMPLETELY

(with explanatory notes in italics):

 

 

1.         ENTRANTS OWN WORK:

Images entered must have been exposed by the entrant (entries by third parties are not eligible).  Printing in a commercial lab is acceptable. 

 

(This may sound unnecessarily obvious; however people have been known to enter someone else's photographs into competitions.)

 

 

2.         COPYRIGHT:

Copyright ownership remains with the creator of the photographs.

 

 

3.         FOR COMPETITIONS THAT REQUIRE IMAGES THAT ARE NEW TO THE PUBLIC - IN WHICH CASE ENTRIES MUST BE UNPUBLICISED WORK:

Entries must not have been published, exhibited or have won a competition previously (this includes images that were taken at the same time and are very similar).

 

(It must be borne in mind that including time, publishing and exhibition limitations in the terms and conditions will prevent the entry of a large number of excellent photographs.  So do not include the above clause if you want to allow entry of the full range of advertising, photojournalism, art etc photographs which are available.)

 

(The above clause is a preferable alternative to the commonly used blanket stipulation that entries must have been created over the previous 12 months, which may unfortunately disqualify many excellent images which have not yet been publicly viewed while allowing images that may have been published a multitude of times.  After all the main aim of most competitions is to gather together the best possible  images.  That said, it is reasonable for some competitions to want to prohibit entry of images that

have already been well publicised.)

 

 

4.         REPRODUCTION RIGHTS IN PRINT MEDIA:

Photographers whose work receives an award agree to allow their awarded images to be reproduced in newspapers, magazines and catalogues in order to advertise and promote the competition (and exhibition, if relevant), for three calendar years from the day the competition closes.

 

(Publication of images that did not win awards cannot be considered fair.  It would reduce the likelihood that the photographer would be able to win another competition with the same image or earn other income by selling usage rights, or publishing it themselves.  Thus many photographers will decide to only enter images of a lesser quality, or not enter at all.)

 

(It is essential to stipulate that the images will only be used in relation to the competition, because some businesses have been guilty of seeking to obtain a large number of good quality photographs through competitions in order to use them for product or service advertising purposes, without having to pay the usual commercial fees.  In other words, the competition was set up to benefit the organisers with little thought or regard for the entrant's welfare.  A demand for all entrants to sign away all usage rights in perpetuity will be understood by most people to indicate that the competition has been set up primarily to obtain a wide range of quality images for little overall cost - and in the case of the entrants who don't receive any award, they'll basically be giving the rights away for nothing [in fact, it will have cost them time and money to enter, so they've effectively made a donation].   Not a good way of fostering a healthy corporate image and it could result in very negative publicity for the organisers involved.)

 

(It is also preferable to have a time limit on usage, unless photographers will be approached individually for permission to reproduce their image/s; which is of course the best arrangement.  Spelling out this thoughtfulness helps confirm the view that the organisers like to do business in a fair and professional manner.)

 

 

5.         REPRODUCTION RIGHTS IN ELECTRONIC MEDIA:

Photographers whose work receives an award agree to allow their awarded images to be reproduced in the electronic media (i.e. television and the internet), if the use is specifically related to the advertising and promotion of the competition (and exhibition, if relevant).  Images used on the competition website will be low-resolution only and will be water marked with a copyright symbol and the photographer's name.

 

(It must be remembered website use is world-wide use, so particular care must be taken in this area.)

 

(Watermarks are easily removed, however they make it clear to everyone that they may not be copied freely.  It reminds everyone that reproducing the images without permission may be followed up in court.)

 

 

6.         BOOK REPRODUCTION:

If the organisers would like to publish any of the competition images in books it is strongly recommended that this be followed up separately at a later date, by approaching each photographer separately.  If a book is very likely, perhaps add to the t & c:

 

Organisers intend to produce a book using competition images.  If your image is selected for book publication, you will be contacted at a later date for permission and to agree upon the usual commercial fees to be paid.

 

(Books are generally intended as direct profit-making ventures so should be treated entirely separately to the other forms of publication mentioned above, which relate strictly to the advertising and promotion of the competition.  There are many instances of competition organisers asking for all entrants to sign away reproduction rights for any purposes on all of the images they've entered, thus raising the possibility that their images could be reproduced in a profit-making book at any stage into the distant future, with not even any guarantee that their name will be included as the creator of the image, let alone any payment.  The possibility of this unfair situation will deter most professional photographers from entering, thus depriving the competition of what are likely to be the best quality images.)

 

(These comments also apply to other merchandise which is to be sold for a profit.  Basically, if an image is good enough to be used in any way, it's good enough to be paid for.  If the entrant is not paid, they are obviously being taken advantage of.)

 

 

7.         AUTHOR ATTRIBUTION:

The name of the photographer will be printed clearly with their image or mentioned, each time the image is reproduced. 

 

For example 'Sydney Sunset II'; photograph by Bill Smith"

 

(Making it obvious who created the image makes it clear to everyone that it's not just anonymous wallpaper, that it's important who made the image.  It creates the valid impression that not just anyone could have created it; it was this specific person.  Audiences do like to know who created the image.  For example, many magazine and newspaper readers do look to see who the photographer was and who the writer was. Artist attribution ALWAYS looks so much more professional, from EVERYONE'S point of view, and enhances the general impression that the competition is being professionally run.) 

 

 

8.         RESPECT FOR IMAGES:

Due regard will be given to the preservation of the artistic integrity of the works.  The works won't be edited, altered or demeaned in anyway.

 

(This obviously protects the photographer's reputation, however the most significant effect of this stipulation is that it protects the integrity of the people and/or the owners of any property included in the images, thus avoiding litigation and the resulting negative publicity.)

 

(It is important to note that editing/cropping images will interfere with the original intention of the photographer.  Cropping may also alter the meaning of the image, and upset people and/or the owners of property which appears in the images.  If a small section of a photograph is cut off and enlarged, it may not at first glance be recognisable as part of the original image, as well.

 

If cropping is required, eg for catalogue purposes, it is recommended that the photographer is contacted and the cropping is explained & permission obtained.

 

 

9.         MODEL RELEASES:

It is the photographer's responsibility to obtain appropriate written permission from the people who appear in their images.  Winning entrants must be able to provide written evidence of this consent, if required.

 

If the photography competition has a specific nude theme then it is recommended that all entrants are required to supply signed model releases with their entry forms.  Depending on how conservative/carefully run the competition is, organisers may also like to add a clause such as 'entrants should bear in mind that entries deemed unacceptable for public viewing will not be considered by the judges,' to encourage entrants to consider the suitability of their entries.

 

 

10.       IF IT IS AN ACQUISITIVE COMPETITION:

Images must be printed (and framed, if relevant) for maximum archival permanence.

 

 

11.       RETURN OF PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIAL:

All entries will be returned within x days (eg. 14 days) of the close of the competition/close of the exhibition/announcement of the winners.  Work can be collected in person on x (date) between the hours of x and x (eg. 9am-5pm).

 

Return of cds, prints, transparencies etc:

All entrants must provide a stamped, self addressed envelope which is suitable for the safe return of their entries.  Without suitable return packaging material and sufficient postage/freight, the entries will not be returned - they will be recycled.

 

Return of framed prints:

All entrants must ensure that the packing material they send is completely reusable, to allow the safe return of their entries.  Cardboard frame corners, bubblewrap and framer's mat boxes are highly recommended.  Clear directions for the return of entries, plus money to cover the return freight, must be included.

 

All artwork which has not been collected within x days (eg. 2 calendar months)  from the date of the competition's conclusion will be forfeited and disposed of in whatever way the organisers see fit.

 

(A perfectly reasonable way to avoid having to store indefinitely a quantity of entries that owners haven't bothered to collect.)

 

(Non-return of correctly packed and freight-paid entries that remain  unsold or acquired,  even if just small prints, suggests a disregard by the organisers of the time, effort and money involved in creating the entries.  It also suggests a lack of organisation.  This doesn't help foster a positive corporate image - quite the reverse.)

 

 

12.       EXHIBITION INSURANCE (EXPENSIVE WORK):

The organisers cover all entrant's work with insurance against major damage or loss, to the value of the sale price as specified on the entry form (or to the maximum value of x amount; for example $3000), while the entrant's work is in the exhibition venue.  Transit insurance remains the responsibility of the entrant.

 

(If entries are large, well-framed images then there is considerable cost involved in printing and framing.  It is reasonable to expect them to be handled with care.  It is also far easier and far more cost effective for the organisers to obtain insurance for the whole exhibition.  It is very impractical and much more expensive for entrants to try to obtain individual coverage for their work which is located in a venue which  they have probably never visited, especially when the specific arrangements (security, hanging, handling etc) are out of their hands.  The cost for on-site insurance could be factored into the cost of competition entry.)

 

 

13.       DISCLAIMER (FOR ENTRIES OF UNFRAMED PRINTS AND DUPLICATE SLIDES):

All care will be taken with the entrant's work however the organisers will not be responsible for any loss or damage.

 

(A disclaimer is more appropriate for entries which are more easily and cheaply replaceable, i.e. small unframed prints and duplicate slides.)

 

(Due to the unavoidable potential for loss or damage,  however obvious it may seem, it is ESSENTIAL that organisers specify that copies of images are retained by entrants - i.e. that they do not send of their one and only copies of images.)

 

 

14.       CONSENT/AGREEMENT:

The signed entry form is evidence of the photographer's consent to these terms and conditions.

 

(Most competitions require the entrant to date the completed entry form, as well as signing and printing their name clearly.)

 

(If you wish to encourage entrants to read the t & c carefully, each point can be listed separately with a blank box for the entrant to tick once they have read each sentence or paragraph.   This makes it very clear that the entrants are expected to read the conditions carefully.)

 

 

15.       COMMUNICATION WITH ENTRANTS:

When entries are returned at the close of the competition/exhibition all entrants will be mailed a catalogue, list of winning entries, and a tax receipt for the entry fee.

 

(A note regarding the following year's competition deadline and/or theme etc can also be sent out at the conclusion of the exhibition, if desired - planning in advance gets the best results, and makes the best use of word-of-mouth advertising.)

 

(If it is uncertain whether an exhibition of entrant's work will be held, when the competition is first organised,  it is obviously desirable that all entrants with work to be exhibited, are notified as soon as a decision has been made.  This situation should be mentioned on the entry form, eg "all entrants will be given reasonable notice if their image/s are to be included in an exhibition".) 

 

 

16.       CHARITY-RELATED EXHIBITIONS & COMPETITIONS:

 

The organisers may approach individual photographers at a later date, to discuss and request permission for additional use of their images.

 

(Please note that all the terms and conditions mentioned in this document apply to school and charity fundraising events [in addition to commercial enterprises].) 

 

Professional photographers are often happy to make donations to worthy causes.  However like the rest of the general public, they usually prefer to make a specific donation, rather than an open-ended one.  For example, asking entrants to sign copyright ownership over to the organisers, or requesting open-ended and/or endless usage, is akin to asking for a blank cheque. A blanket stipulation is often thoughtlessly included by competition organisers however it will not get the best results - anyone who values their images, especially if they rely on photography for a living, will be reluctant to enter.   Usually organisers would get the very best overall result (the highest quality entries & the best quality publicity) by writing very specific usage into the entry form t & c.  If specific, additional usage is required after the conclusion of the competition, then the best approach is to contact the individual photographers whose images are sought.  Then the photographers can discuss the arrangements and have the option of declining.  However if the requested donation is reasonable, most will probably agree.  This way you're likely to get more entries, better quality entries, and a much better end result for everyone involved.)

 

If organisers insist on requiring entrants to agree to usage rights without receiving any payment in return, this is most honestly described as a donation.  It should be clearly described as a donation, otherwise, usage of the term 'competition', can only be described as being deliberately misleading.

 

 

B)    OBVIOUS  ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATION:

 

1.         Lead time:

If you want photographers to send you their very best images, allow sufficient time for them to take specific images, process and print them, sort the wheat from the chaff, pack and mail them.  This is 3-4 months minimum, from the first date that the exhibition is publicised, until the close of entries.  Obviously a shorter lead-time is sufficient for a low-key hand-delivered local competition, as opposed to a major prize money Australia-wide or worldwide award; which may require 6-12 months to obtain the best possible outcome for everyone.  Rushing it just won't get such good results from anyone's point of view.

 

 

2.         Do you want all photographers to enter, or only amateurs or only professionals:

This relates to the basic aims of the photography competition, as previously mentioned.  If the main aim were simply to draw out some of the very best photographic images, then it would be best to leave the entry as open as possible.  Usually it's not necessary to state who may enter the competition anyway, as the prize money and the amount of advertising that the competition receives, will sort this out.  For example, most professionals will only enter competitions that offer substantial rewards, and usually it takes more time and money than many amateurs would be prepared to spend (better quality printing, framing etc) to enter professional competitions.    However there may be valid aims that make an amatuer/professional stipulation desirable.  For example, if one of the main purposes of a competition is to encourage local people to record local history, or encourage students and other young people to improve their photographic skills, then it may be best to stipulate that the competition is open to amateurs only, thus giving them more of a chance to win an award.

 

On the other hand, if organisers have particular image usage in mind, they wish to ensure that model releases etc have been correctly obtained, that entrants have liability insurance, along with other professional/commercial considerations, then clearly the competition should stipulate entry by professionals only.

 

"Professional" photographers are usually deemed to be people who derive their principal income from photography, who belong to professional associations and/or who are deemed to be working as professional photographers by their peers.  "Amateur" photographers are usually deemed to be people who have not received payment in return for their images (apart from receiving amatuer or open competition prize money).

 

It will also be necessary to ask whether entrants are registered for gst (in relation to their photography) and have an ABN.

 

 

3.         Number of entries allowed per person: 

Three is a common limit.  It allows entrants to send in several different styles of images, covering several possibilities of judge's preferences, without overloading the system. 

 

 

4.         Are all entries to be exhibited (this point doesn't concern competitions which don't include a public exhibition): 

If not, whether all entries will be judged (or just those exhibited), needs to be spelt out.  If you suspect that the number of entries may exceed the hanging space available then in fairness to the entrants it's essential to state on the entry form that if there is insufficient space some entries won't be on public display.  It may be appropriate to add a note such as "all competition entries will be displayed, providing that they are suitably presented and space allows.  However images that may offend the general public will not be displayed."

 

 

5.         Initial pre-judging of entries for competitions that will be exhibited:

Some well-known competitions are pre-judged, to avoid quality and quantity problems.  It takes more time initially but saves time later on.  Usually entrants are required to pay the entry fee and send in prints or digital copies of entries.  The successful entrants are then notified and requested to send the framed photograph/s to the organisers by a certain date (at least 6 weeks notice, to allow for printing, framing & transport).  Initial pre-judging avoids the problem of having to handle, store and return a large number of lesser quality entries that won't fit onto gallery walls, and reduces the wastage of the unsuccessful entrant's time, plus the cost of framing and freight also. 

 

 

6.         Judging:

Many competitions state the names of the judges on the competition entry form.  This may include some brief biographical information on each judge.  Knowing who is judging the competition helps entrants to choose entries that might suit that particular person's preferences; and letting everyone know the names of the judges helps ensure that 'those in the know' don't have an unfair advantage.  Listing the names of the judges also helps create the impression that the competition is being professionally run and is  organised well in advance.  It is also an easy way of raising the profile of the judges, and acknowledging their contribution publicly.

 

 

7.         Winning qualities looked for in entries:

The organisers, sponsors and/or the judge/s may have very firm ideas on the winning qualities they are looking for.  These qualities may relate to the personal or business values of the organisers or sponsors or relate to the competition theme.  This information can be printed on the entry form to make it less of a hit-or-miss affair for entrants.  For example:  "Entries must demonstrate a strong connection to the competition theme," or "I/we will be looking for entries that demonstrate a strong connection to the competition theme, combined with originality of thought and technical excellence".

 

Sometimes the images that are the best in every other respect may not be the ones that will reproduce the best in exhibition-related newspaper articles, catalogues, flyers etc.  Organisers need to think about whether they first and foremost want the very best images to win, or whether it's also essential that the winning images reproduce well.  Images that reproduce better than the rest, might not be the best in other respects.   If reproduction quality is going to be a factor taken into account by the judges, then in all fairness to all entrants, and to ensure appropriate entries, this must be stated clearly on the entry form; eg:   "Consideration will also be given to which entries will reproduce well (in newspapers, magazines, online or whatever is relevant)." 

 

 

8.         Prints - specifications & presentation:

- separate categories for colour or black & white?

- size (photographic labs can advise standard photographic paper sizes).

If the prints entered are all the same size it does make it easier for judges to compare the images.  And larger prints usually have a slight natural advantage over smaller prints.   It's a matter of considering who exactly the competition is aimed at, the competition entry fee and prize money and style of exhibition venue.  For example, specifying that entries must be the standard mini-lab sized prints will make it much easier, quicker and cheaper for people to enter if the competition is aimed primarily at local, amateur photographers - especially school age children.  So you will get many more entries than you would if larger prints are required and a display of the entries would be much quicker and easier to mount.   Larger prints should be expected in competitions aimed at professional photographers and if there is to be an exhibition in a gallery.

- quality of printing.  As digital cameras are now standard, for competitions that are expecting a number of amateur entries it is recommended that a note to this effect is included, "to ensure your images are presented as well as possible, digital images must be printed on good quality photographic paper".

- mounted or not (on mat board?)

- framed or not - and if framed, minimum specifications are essential to avoid headaches

with sub-standard framing.  Professional quality, 'D' rings, hanging wire; maximum frame size [often 1m square] and sometimes weight limits (10kg would be a reasonable weight limit for 1m square framed photographs).

 

 

9.         Identification/labelling of entries:

Prints:

Suggested wording:

-  The title of the image and the entrant's full name and address must be printed clearly on the back of each print entered.  Care should be taken to ensure the front surface of the print is not damaged when writing on the back of the print.

 

Framed work:

Suggested wording:

- The title of the image, sale price (if applicable) and the entrant's full name and address must be displayed clearly on the back of each framed photograph.

Entrants may choose to write directly onto the back of the frame, however securely attached stickers or labels are recommended.

 

 

10.       Handling:

There is a lot of work processing entry forms and fees, packing and unpacking entries.

Hanging framed artwork is very time consuming.  Photographic prints must be handled with cotton gloves to avoid marking with fingerprints.

 

 

11.       Digital manipulation:

Few photographers use anything other than digital cameras now, but not all digitally manipulate their images.  Organisers need to decide their policy on this.  How traditional or how 'cutting edge' do you want the competition to be?    Extreme digital manipulation (graphic design) is a separate artform, which is probably better judged separately to photographic talent (the skill of capturing a good image through a camera).  Regardless of one's opinion on the various virtues of these two fields, separating the two simply makes it easier for the judges, fairer for the entrants, and produces more consistent results.

 

Some competitions use wording such as "images entered in this competition need to be based on an image captured through a camera.  Winning entrants may be requested to provide proof their entry is a photographic image, eg. by supplying a sequence of similar images," and "entries will be judged on photographic skill rather than digital manipulation skill".

 

 

12.       Theme for the competition:

- this makes the judging much more straightforward (no theme means the judge's specific preferences can cause bias, and result in an untidy exhibition).

- a different theme each year can help keep the interest of the media, public, sponsors and entrants year after year

- or a very specific, continuing theme can allow the competition to be become a very well known high-profile annual event  (eg a national portrait competition)

- ideally the theme has some obvious connection to the organisers and/or sponsors - this helps it stick in the minds of the public.

- some examples of general themes:  portraiture, landscapes, wildlife, heritage, family life, sport, fashion.

 

 

C)    MONEY-RELATED ISSUES TO CONSIDER:

 

1.         Will the public be able to buy the entries direct from the exhibition organisers?

- the possibility of selling the work is an added incentive for photographers to enter their best images in the competition (they might not win any money, but they might profit by selling their entry)

- it will help publicise the exhibition in the media, and also by word-of-mouth

-  it does involve additional paperwork.

- it is usual that a deposit (usually at least 20%) is paid when purchasing work in an exhibition; or it should be paid for in full if the exhibition runs for only a short time (eg. less than 7 days).  With regard to longer exhibitions it is usual for the purchase to be collected when the exhibition is finished and paid in full on collection.

- if competition organisers do not wish to sell entries, they may like to consider including a section on the entry form, requesting the entrant's permission to release their contact details to anyone who makes an enquiry.

 

2.         Commission charged on exhibition sales: 

25% is the most common charge for competition exhibition sales (less than usual commercial gallery rates, as it is a relatively short-term arrangement and professional sales services are not provided).  Charging too high a commission inflates the sale price, and may result in less commission overall, due to reduced sales.

 

3.         Catalogues/pricelists:

Viewers love to take away pieces of paper with details on them.  This is good advertising for the exhibitors, and for the organisers and for the sponsors.  It's debatable whether full-colour glossy brochures are worth the time and expense - often it's overkill, as many end up in the bin.  A b & w well-designed pricelist which includes a few well-written paragraphs of information on the venue, organisers and sponsors (plus logos), photocopied onto A4 sheets of good quality paper is usually perfectly adequate.  For some exhibitions a few lines of biographical information on each photographer, and/or a specific comment on the artwork, may be appropriate.  Most viewers find these background details very interesting.  (This information is usually requested on the entry form, to a maximum number of words, eg. 100 or 250.)  Again, this is the sort of detail which can help foster an image of professionalism. 

 

B & w catalogues done this way have the additional benefit of being cheaply and easily reprinted if required, or updated/altered if necessary. 

 

Even if exhibited works are not for sale it benefits everyone if there is a catalogue containing the following:  a list of the exhibitors, the titles of their images and other details (eg perhaps the type of print, date it was produced, perhaps basic contact details such as the photographer's phone number, website address or business name etc).

 

4.         'Popular choice' awards:

A great way of encouraging public participation.  They enjoy the prompt to really think about the images on show and like to feel their opinion has value.  Usually the popular choice winner will differ from the judge's decisions.  Debate about the contrast between the academic and populist opinions can help generate excellent publicity.  Usually the prize money for the 'people's choice' award is substantially lower than the first prize; often it's around 10% of the judges first prize money - although it could of course be an equal amount.

 

5.         Total prize money:

The higher the prize money, the better quality the entries will be, and more widespread the publicity will be.  Competitions which offer prize money of $3-$5000 upwards can expect to receive entries from some of Australia's best photographers and national publicity.   Competitions offering  $7-$20,000 prize money are likely to attract international publicity amongst the photographic community.  Professional photographers are running a high-input business and few are likely to invest substantial time and effort entering competitions for the possibility of a prize which is too low to even cover their costs, let alone reimburse their investment of time and expertise.  

 

Good quality in-kind prizes can attract good entries (eg the offer of a well-publicised solo exhibition in a prestigious gallery or commercial location, or a piece of good quality, valuable photographic equipment), however there's nothing as useful as cash.

 

Most photographers need sales, not publicity, so it should not be assumed that photographers would be adequately compensated for image use by receiving good publicity alone.  Publicity does not necessarily result in immediate sales and the best photographers, who are well established, are already fairly well known.

 

6.         Number of awards/prize money split:

One large cash prize, or more numerous awards for a lesser amount?  Splitting a large sum of prize money into 3-4 awards is likely to reduce controversy over the judge's decision (controversy is good for dramatic publicity; but a single prize is obviously useless for the majority of entrants and may be seen as unattainable - i.e. pointless vying for).  Several prizes will encourage more people to enter - it will seem like they have a half decent chance of succeeding.  When writing articles journalists usually refer to the total prize money available (rather than first prize amounts), so the prize money split has little bearing on general publicity - only the total amount.

 

The details of the prize money split need to be clearly spelt out on the entry form, unless it is a case of  "prize money distribution is up to the discretion of the judges"; in which case this needs to be mentioned.

 

The first time a competition is run, organisers cannot be sure of how many entries will be received, the quality, and in what categories.  It may be appropriate to include a comment such as "If the judge deems that the quality of entries is insufficient or that the number of entries is too low to warrant awarding a prize in a particular category then the prize distribution may be altered, eg. no awards issued in a particular category.  However the total prize money available will remain the same, it is only the allocation that may be altered."

 

Well-run competitions with sizeable prize money can expect to receive good publicity and entries from at least hundreds of photographers.

 

*NB;  Sometimes competition organisers want to use more images for promotional purposes than there are prize categories, and/or there may be a requirement to use some entries for commercial/marketing purposes.  In this case the use of these images should be paid for at standard rates and specific arrangements made direct with the entrants concerned.  Competition organisers need to consider whether it is better to reduce the over all 'prize' money available, and use the saved money to pay for the use of these extra images.  This plan could be written in to the competition.  The competition could openly advertised as a very effective way of seeking a range of very creative, unique images, which could then be paid for at good commercial rates.  (A competition arranged in this way may also gain broad additional publicity as an example of 'best practice', and foster a very positive commercial image for the organisers.)

 

 

D)    Other sources of information:

 

National Association for the Visual Arts ('practical advice' section, 'code of practice 2nd edition'; chapter 4, 'competitions' etc)   www.visualarts.net.au

 

The Copyright Council of Australia (eg. 'information sheets', 'competitions').  www.copyright.org.au

 

 

Last updated - 12 December 2008

 

Fiona Lake

 

Australian Commercial + Media Photographers

 

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