The Importance of Entering (and Winning) Photo Contests!

Have you ever entered a photo contest?
 
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If you enter photo contests, then I applaud you! Keep it up! Put your best work out there, and people will notice. Not to mention, it's a great way to connect with other photographers. It can also really pay off. Within the last couple years, I have won, an entry level zoom lens, a professional lens, a cover on a luxury travel magazine, and a professional camera bag. Not bad considering all of my winning photographs were non-commissioned—sometimes your passion pays off.

Backstory about my latest win: 
Having such a fondness for landscape photography (which started with my first camera), I've always brought a wide angle lens with me whenever I travel. Seven months ago, I had the opportunity to travel with my wife to Chicago on her business trip where I was able to roam around the city with my camera for a few days. Since this was my first trip to the windy city, I walked up and down each street (while taking photos of course) and finally came across Millenium Park where most of my Chicago photos came from.

Fast-forward one month later, I entered a photo contest offered by Tamron USA. The premise of the contest was to design a gallery with approximately ten images that would fall into the "Travel" category. What perfect timing! After just shooing a ton of photographs in Chicago, i had a dozen great black-and-white photographs that would be a good entry. I entered the contest, and that was that. Fast forward again 6 months later, and I was notified via email that my gallery was chosen as the grand prize winner. Whoa! I must say I was both surprised and proud at the same time. 

From Tamron:

"Hi Jeffrey,
Congratulations!!!! You are the official winner of the 2015 Tamron Travel Photo Contest. Your gallery was chosen for your excellent awareness of the fundamentals of photography. The judge noted your clear understanding of light, framing and subject matter."

Realizing I had just won a Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC full-frame lens, I was a bit shocked, but was smiling ear to ear that week. This will be my second full frame lens and an essential addition to my gear. The crazy thing about this win, all of my the images photographed in Chicago were shot with the crop-sensor lens that I won in this contest, also from Tamron. Definitely a win-win!

So if your responses are "no" to the poll, tell me why in the comments. Put your work out there, PEOPLE! There are a lot of free contests out there, that are fairly easy to enter. It can help you get noticed, and who knows, you might win something. What has been your experiences with photo contests?

To see the actual winning gallery of my Chicago photographs in detail, click here.