BJP Project Assistance Awards – Shortlisted! (+ some thoughts on photography competitions…)
Back in December 2007 I got my entry in just on time for the British Journal of Photography Project Assistance Awards. I cycled like a madman from Acton in west London (where I was living at the time), in the pouring rain to Leicester Square in the centre of town, and then wandered through a really random office building until I found the right person to hand over my entry form and CD of images to. Then I cycled home, dried myself up and thought about christmas presents.
In mid January 2008 I got a call from the BJP editor Simon Bainbridge, saying that I’d been chosen to be featured in the weekly magazine. The project in question was ‘The Brick Business’ – my work in progress looking at the economic crisis in Spain.
This was all really cool, and I was genuinely fired up at the time; however life moved on and I quickly left this behind as the business of everyday life in London took over..
So it was a genuine bolt from the blue to get a call from Simon today to let me know that I’ve been shortlisted into the final 8 of the competition (I don’t know who the other 7 shortlisted photographers are as yet). There are immediate benefits to making this shortlist – a small financial boost, but also I’ll get to attend a workshop on preparing a detailed Project Proposal. Even if I don’t ultimately win the £5ooo first prize, this will be a great experience.
So – some thoughts on competitions for emerging photographers…. There’s many out there, and some of them are definitely little more than cash cows for the organisers. I would definitely recommend aspiring photographers to enter competitions – its a way of getting your work recognised, getting wide exposure for your photography and for your business. This exposure can lead to commissions and new clients.
However – I think it’s important to pick and choose which competitions you enter; Many competitions these days have entry fees – I would immediately look at what the potential return on your investment is with these competitions – its not just money you might be wasting, but time as well. Every competition has different guidelines, image specifications, CV requirements – all of these are time consuming…
You only have to do some simple maths for some competitions to work out which ones are profiteering; I generally enter 2-3 paid competitions every year; The National Portrait Gallery’s “Photographic Portrait Prize”, the Magenta Foundation’s “Flash Forward” awards, and maybe one random other. In my eyes, these competitions have a good return (monetary and exposure) for the entry fee. There are other good competitions out there, but they are pitched at photographers who are perhaps further on in their career than I am. There are several competitions out there that are free to enter, are prestigious, and have great financial rewards if you are fortunate enough to make the cut – these include the aforementioned BJP Project Assistance Awards, The Sony World Photography Awards, and The World Press Photo Competition.
It seems like as with anything in the world of photography, your chances of glorious failure are higher than your chances of winning – but planning to enter these competitions on an annual basis, and putting them into your schedule of things to do would seem to me to be a worthwhile endeavour. I have lost count of how many competitions I have entered over the last 4 1/2 years, and this is only the second time (I think) that I have been selected for anything. But boy, it all becomes worthwhile when you get that phone call!