If you’re insecure about your fine art photography, then join the group with the rest of us.  We all seek validation on many levels.  The artist in us is one of those levels. We love our own work, on most days, and we want others to do the same.  Love it.  Appreciate it. Share it on social media, buy it and brag about it to their friends.  We want strangers at camera clubs to come up and say, “Oh, that is yours? Wow.”  We want galleries to want us.  And why not?  We pour our hearts and souls in to our art and shouldn’t there be a payoff at the end, one that massages our ego? The biggest heart break and best form of validation is the Photography Competition.

The best way to grow as an artist of contemporary photography is to enter a national and international, juried fine art photography competition.  There are many, but I am a big fan of LensCulture. The have many calls for entries with a focus on fine art photography and contemporary photography.  In fact, I was just rejected in their most recent competition, “Black and White Photography Awards.”  It was painful; the opposite of the validation I sought, but I’m turning around and entering another one this week.  Why the self-abuse? Here are my top 3 reasons why you should be entering national and international juried fine art competitions.

1. What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Its time to share your work, fail a few times and grow a thick skin.  Honest critique and feedback, even in the form of outright rejection, should push you to produce better work.  A photography competition brings out the best in all of us.

2. See What Others Are Doing

You don’t have to shoot what the winners shoot, but you should gain an awareness of where you stand in the context of contemporary photography.  This will serve you as well in spurring your creative juices and help you to move your work to another level.

3. You Might Win!

I recently enter the Praxis Photographic Arts Center International juried portrait competition and was shocked I was accepted as an exhibitor. This past summer I was accepted into the juried Minnesota State Fair Arts exhibition.  I’m getting some of the validation I seek, the kind of validation that motivates me to keep working harder yet as a contemporary photographer.