An important note: the contest is open for US residents only.
Entering photography contests is one of the best ways to test yourself as a photographer. It is one thing when your family and friends admire your work, but gaining appreciation in a contest is a whole different experience. Photography is meant to be looked at and admired, and what better ways are there to start showcasing your work if not by entering a photography competition? Luckily, there are always ongoing contests that you can enter. The one I am going to introduce to you now is free, sponsored by Nikon (users of any camera system may enter) and called Inspirations Photo Contest (thanks for the tip, Rick!).
The contest has started a while ago, in September. This means that one of the categories – Sports & Action – has already been closed, which is unfortunate. But three other categories are still open for entries and, something you might certainly want to know, promise great prizes for the winning entrant.
1) Don’t Focus on the Prize!
Naturally, before I begin listing the categories, deadlines and rules, I would not be a proper motivator if I did not say that prizes don’t matter. And at this point you could say – of course they do! I mean, who would not want to win a Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 or Nikkor AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR lens? Anyone would! But I promise you, if you win this contest, the first thing that you will be happy about is that you won a big photography contest organized by Nikon. The first thing you will think is – “Alright, I might be better at this than I thought. Great!” The prize is just icing on the cake. If you think it is the other way around for you, you may be spending a little bit too much time focusing on the gear, friend.
In any case, it is not even the winning that matters. Yes, you have heard people say it a million times before, but it is true. Participate. That is the most important part. And so submit your work. If you feel you have something worth showing, something you are really proud of, there is absolutely no reason why you should not do just that.
There are 4 categories in total and each one is open for exactly one month in a sequence. To submit your work to a currently running competition, click here. You will need a flickr account to enter the contest (which, in turn, means having either Yahoo!, Facebook or Google account). The first 12500 submissions will be considered for the Contests and each contender can enter one submission per category. Although public voting is enabled, it will have no effect when choosing the winning photograph and are for entertainment purposes only.
- Sports & Action – this category was open through September and is now closed. You can view the entries if you are curious, and you should be – some of them are truly spectacular. The prize is the exotic Nikkor AF-S 200mm f/2 ED VR II lens. Here is Nikon’s description of the category:
“From horse riding to motorcross and everything in between, perhaps no subject matter evokes as much excitement as Sports & Action. We’re looking for photos that freeze action, that capture heart–pounding moments in stunning clarity, that leave us wiping sweat from our brow.”
- Landscape – undoubtedly, a lot of people will (and already have) enter this category thanks to how popular landscape photography is. Remember all the sunset pictures you took? It is what we start with. Some of us stick with landscapes and get really, really good at them. If you want to submit your work to this category, you better hurry – it is open through October and is about to close in just a couple of days (by the end of October 31st). Click here to see current entries. The prize is the well-regarded Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. Here is Nikon’s description of the category:
“Nothing says FX-Format like an expansive edge-to-edge landscape or cityscape. From natural to architectural, sunsets to sunrises, show us the incredible wide-angle views you’ve captured on your adventures. You can get creative, too—Black & White, HDR, Selective Color, Long Exposures, Light Painting and more are all welcome techniques.”
- Portrait – another category that will prove to be very popular, the Portrait contest will be open as soon as Landscape is closed in a couple of days. It begins November 1st and will accept entries the whole month. Even if you haven’t done your best work yet, but have an idea or two on your mind, there is no better time to get started. The prize is, of course, Nikon’s ultimate portrait lens – the Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.4G. I own the predecessor of this lens and however long it may be for indoor photography, I would not trade that focal length and aperture for any other when it comes to my portrait go-to combination. Here is Nikon’s description of the category:
“A portrait is capable of telling volumes—the subtleties of a personality, the strength of a character, the essence of a moment all inexplicably captured in time. Show us your most story-rich portraits, be them of your mother, child, neighbor or pet. We’re looking for portraits that are beautifully executed and that tell a story with a single view.”
- Zoom and Telephoto – last, but certainly not least, this contest will be open through December. This category is the least specific, because basically all the images that you took with a zoom or/and telephoto lens that do not fit any of the above categories will be accepted here. The prize? A recent telephoto zoom lens by Nikon, the Nikkor AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR lens. Here is Nikon’s description of the category:
“Show us your greatest feats of conquering distance with a zoom lens—the astounding close-ups of nature and wildlife, the close framing of architecture and events. If you used a zoom lens, we want to see it.”
Every contest has its set of rules and Nikon Inspirations Photo Contest is no different. If you are indeed interested in this competition (or any competition, for that matter), be sure to read all the official rules, regulations and license agreements provided by the organizers before submitting your work. Be very thorough!
Here is a quick glimpse at the general photo guidelines:
- The Submission must be provided in the form of a URL that links directly to the photo on your Account;
- The Submission must have been posted to your Account on or after July 1, 2013;
- The Submission must be in .jpg format;
- The Submission must not exceed 5 MB in size;
- The Submission cannot have been submitted previously in a promotion or contest of any kind;
- The photo may be taken with any type or brand of camera.
There are some content restrictions:
- The Submission must not contain material that violates or infringes another’s rights, including but not limited to trademark, patent, privacy, publicity or other intellectual property rights, or that constitutes copyright infringement;
- The Entrant must have written permission from all individuals that appear in the Submission (if any) to use their name and likeness in the Submission and to grant the rights set forth herein.
- The Submission must not disparage Sponsor, Administrator or any other person or party affiliated with the Contest;
- The Submission must not contain brand names or trademarks other than those owned by Sponsor, which entrant has a limited license to use to incorporate in his/her Submission in this Contest;
- The Submission must not contain images or artwork not created by entrant;
- The Submission must not contain material that is inappropriate, indecent, obscene, hateful, tortious, defamatory, slanderous or libelous;
- The Submission must not contain material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age;
- The Submission must not contain material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations in any state where Submission is created.
Click here to read all the rules of the Nikon Inspirations Photo Contest – try to be very thorough, as there are quite a lot of important details.