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Whether you’re a fashion photographer of nature snapper, there’s bound to be a photography competition you’re eager to enter. Entering a competition isn’t as easy as uploading any old photo and clicking submit, you really need to prepare yourself and do some research.

Here at Parrot Print we want you to be successful in every competition you enter, so we’ve put together some tips and advice for entering photography competitions – good luck!

Read the rules
Do you remember when your teachers would tell you to always read the exam paper before starting it? Well the same applies to photography competitions. While they might be a little boring to read, the terms and conditions of the entering the competition is where you need to start when considering how to enter and if you want to. Once you’ve read them, read them again. Remember when your teachers said to read an exam question carefully and then read it again before starting, that’s exactly what you need to do here before you start thinking about ideas. You don’t want to get to submission point before you realise you’ve missed something or captured the wrong theme, so make sure you read them again and again. We can’t stress enough how important it is to stick to the rules, if you think we’re kidding check out this article on The Guardian.

Do your research
It’s amazing what you can do to improve your chances of winning a photography competition if you just do a little research and plan before you start shooting. If it’s an annual competition then check out the winners from last year. You don’t want to aim to copy them, but their photos may give you tips on how to capture yours. The competition may have a main sponsor, so it’s worth looking at the photos they use to get an idea of what they’re looking for.

Stick to the theme
Most photography competitions focus around one idea or theme. You may be tempted to submit a photo you absolutely love or have received a lot of positive comments about, but if it doesn’t fit the theme we suggest you don’t risk it. This is because when the judges are down to the last two photos, they’re going to choose the one that fits the theme more. So, if you want to win the contest you must stick to the theme – the more obvious the better.

Stand out from the crowd
We know we’ve just said stick to the theme, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative about it. There’s a fine line between a great shot and one that is a predictable cliché. When entering a competition you have to keep in mind that the judges will potentially be viewing hundreds if not thousands of images, so you have to do your best to stand out from the crowd. Stand out from the crowd by choosing compelling subjects, striking colours, unusual compositions. If the rules allow, you could use our illustration apps and photography apps to help you create something extra extraordinary.

Go for a reaction
A way to get the judges to stop and stare or remember you is to give them something to look at. Tell a story through your image, hit people with a powerful emotion or create something that connects and evokes some sort of reaction when they look at it. You want to leave the judge wanting more, so that when it’s down to you and someone else, they choose your image.

Ask for a second opinion
When you’ve decide on the photo you’re going to submit, it doesn’t hurt to get a second, third or even a fourth opinion. Make sure you ask good friends that will tell you straight, because friends that would let you go on X Factor when you can’t hold a note are not the friends you want to be asking. The more feedback you get on your work the less subjective you’ll be and the more prepared you’ll be. Remember no matter how much feedback you receive it’s your work, so always go with your gut instinct.

Don’t give up
Losing isn’t the end of the world. The most important part is you took part in the competition and have gained experience from it. This experience can only help you prepare for the next time you enter a competition. Like most competitions if you get through to the final stage the expert judges are sure to give you some feedback that you can use to help you improve, and if they don’t simply ask for some.

What projects are you thinking of entering in 2016? Have you ever won? Do you have any more tips we can use? Don’t forget to share your photos with us on Facebook and Twitter