by Gerald Hardage Published 01/11/2007
The members of SWPP and BPPA are blessed with an organisation that offers so much to the professional photographer. I am from the US and belong to several professional photographers' associations. I have the first-hand experience of these organisations and know what they offer to their members. SWPP and BPPA, along with a whole lot of benefits, has one great offering that no other professional photographers' association offers and it is a shame that more of its members do not take advantage of it.
I am talking about the monthly competition. SWPP and BPPA has an exceptional opportunity for the beginner (and seasoned competition junkie) that is offered by no other professional association in the world. The monthly competition is real simple and inexpensive. All you need to do is upload your images via the internet and it is free to all members. WOW!
I had heard about SWPP and BPPA from some of my friends within the photography community and their reviews were great. I could not believe what I was hearing about the benefits, organisation and their monthly competition!! A couple of years ago, I met Phil and Juliet at a convention in the US and took the opportunity to check out SWPP and BPPA. It was a no brainier as to the benefit one could receive.
The cost to join SWPP and BPPA is so reasonably priced compared to other professional organisations, the benefits are outstanding and the bi-monthly Professional Imagemaker magazine is second to none. I could talk all day about how great SWPP and BPPA is, however, let's stick to the subject at hand ...monthly competition.
Competition is sometimes a gut-wrenching process with no rhyme nor reason. Beginners are often overwhelmed with fear, thinking, 'I am not good enough and have no idea where to start' NOT GOOD ENOUGH ... IS A MYTH!! Perception is reality and we are our own worst enemy.
Are any of your reasons for not entering any type of competition similar to mine when I started a few short years ago? Can you identify with any of these excuses: I am not good enough; no time; what if my peers really knew how bad I am; fear and rejection; judges don't know what they are doing and it is rigged; competition images will not sell to a client .... and I could go on and on. Any of these excuses sound familiar?
Why would you want to compete? Without a doubt, the best reason is this fact; it will make you a better photographer. This reason alone is worth your effort; however, the other benefits you will receive are just as important in the long run for your business and career. A couple more reasons are: respect from your peers and clients will want to do business with winners. Remember, perception becomes reality!
Once you get past all of your excuses for not entering, the next important suggestion is to GET a mentor. Another super benefit that members of SWPP and BPPA do not take advantage of is their great Mentor Me programme. These mentors can and will guide you through the rules and guidelines for competition. Remember, we all started at the beginning. These mentors are more than willing to give back what has so freely been given to them. Try the monthly competition, what do you have to lose?
The tremendous advantage SWPP and BPPA offers over all other competitions is being able to NOT incur printing and shipping costs. By design, a member can upload their images via the internet and save a bundle of money. SWPP offers 22 different categories and one image per month can be entered in each . Thanks to this offering (and speaking from experience), it has given me an opportunity and has challenged me to enter categories of which I would not normally go out of my comfort zone to capture. My specialty is Fine Art and Digital. I have taken this opportunity to experiment with other categories offered and have found it has expanded by appreciation and knowledge of capturing those subjects. I also use the monthly competition to try images for the print competition and do not have the money tied up in prints. If they merit in the electronic competition, then there is a good chance those images are worthy of printing and entering into the print competition. To me, I use the programme as a mentoring tool and confidence builder. WOW, WHAT A BENEFIT AND IT IS FREE!!
A few suggestions I would like to offer. Believe in yourself, play within the boundaries of the rules and guidelines, DO NOT be thin skinned, DO NOT get emotionally attached to an image, break the rules but have a reason and know why you are doing it, fake it until you make it and most important ... have fun. You will never know unless you give it a try. I encourage you to go for it as it is well worth the effort!!!
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