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photography contests and awards

Let’s make it immediately clear : until last year, I never participated to a photo contest.
It was a choice founded on a long list of false motivations: “I do not have time for it,” “I do not think it’s useful,” “it will not add anything to my business”.

But the real answer was another: my photography is mediocre and I was afraid someone would told me in the face.

Has something changed ?
My photography is still mediocre, but if it has somehow improved, it’s because I’m no longer afraid of those negative judgments, that now I collect and put in my backpack on the long way leading to growth.

I’m a competitive person, I do not like to get second and I never believed in “…it’s the participating that counts…”.
If I participate, I want to win.

I never took part in competitions, just for fear, just because I was sure I was going to loose.

Doubts

Photographic competitions still leave some open questions in me. There are hundreds of them, and most of them are tools to take money out of the pockets of so many amateurs and professionals.
Not to mention that in many competitions, the winners are always the same names, which often hide themselves among the organizers, or even worse, among the judges. But it’s not useful to scream behind conspiracies or Masonic style logics, competitions are a means of advertising and promotion, and the strongest sponsor, wins the game.

I never considered photography a sort of sport discipline. I have never seen other photographers as sporting antagonists; the only adversary I have, in a creative discipline like photography, I do not even want to remotely label it as “artistic”, is just me.

But then, why take part in photography contests?

Photography Contests – Certainties

Despite doubts, I have gained the conviction competitions are extremely useful for my business. Taking part to photography contests, pushes me to renew and improve my portfolio, allowing me to understand what works and what needs to be fixed in my pictures. Understanding how judges express their ratings, listening to people who are not personally and emotionally involved with my work, is a very useful tool to grow.

Until now, I was stupidly denying myself the opportunity to confront with others, to let my work be judged, to have my portfolio reviewed. If I look at my past, fear has caused me more damage than the pain for the actual falls I made (luckily, few ones).

Seeing others win, keeps generating some discomfort in my subconscious child, but today I live the results of competitions in a positive, and perhaps more mature way. I do not feel any envy for the achievements of others. Looking at great images makes me feel good, and it push me to congratulate with the author, it makes me take my camera, to try something better.

And even if I will not get on the first step of the podium, at least I will try to get close to it.

Maurizio Mannini

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