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Photo Contests

Legit Photo Contests vs. Photo Contest Scams

By Sally Wiener Grotta & Daniel Grotta

It's a great photo. You're proud of the composition, angle and emotional appeal. Heck, you know it's a winner. So go ahead, enter it in a photo contest and see how you do.

Photo contests abound. A Web search brings up over 28 million links! Like everything on the Internet, some contests may be rip-offs, even out-and-out frauds. Others, though, are highly prestigious or, at the very least, a fun opportunity to win prizes.

Spotting Photo Contest Scams

The trick to making sure that a photo contest is legit is to use your common sense and do a bit of research.

  • Stick with contests that are run or recommended by well-known reputable organizations.
  • A good starting place to look for contests is through respected photo publications and organizations, such as Popular Photography, the International Center of Photography, your local photo club or your camera store. However, when checking their Websites, be aware of which links are paid advertisements (it's usually noted) and which are actually part of the site.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true.
  • Ignore any contest that solicits you through e-mail, without your having contacted them first. If the sender's e-mail address is from a free service like Hotmail or Yahoo, delete it without opening.
  • As a flexible rule of thumb, we tend to prefer contests that have no entry fees. While not uncommon, entry fees should always be minimal. No fee should be required to "redeem" a prize.
  • Read the conditions of the contest. Who owns the photo after you submit it? We consider it a red flag if a contest requires that you relinquish all rights to your photo.
  • Before entering any contest, read About.com's Top Questions to Ask to Avoid Sweepstakes Scams.

Finding Legit Photo Contests

Hundreds of photo contests out there are legit. Here are some places to look for the one that's right for you:

  • Glossy magazines that are known for their photography often have photo contests for their readers. If you look at a magazine, and think, "Hey, that's my kind of photography!" check to see if they have a photo contest that you can enter.
  • Camera companies sometimes sponsor photo contests with great prizes in order to promote their products. Check with the manufacturer of your camera to see if it ever runs contests. Similarly, your printer, scanner or software company may have them.
  • Innumerable Websites offer photo contests. We prefer sites that have legitimate products or services that the contests serve to promote, rather than those whose entire purpose is to get you to pay fees to enter a photo.
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