Photo contests are a chance for your big break(down).

Let me set the mood. You are a young photographer, you are working hard and you want to get your name out there. What do you do? You search online and you find this extraordinary opportunity: a photo contest for some big name brand. This might be your chance, your big break!

Right?!  WRONG!

So far, nearly every photography contest of this type I have seen is the same in the fact that they rob you from your photos. And when a contest is co-organized by a photo community, it’s unfortunately no different. I recently came across a contest organized by 500px and Land Rover which startled me.

When you arrive on the contest page, this is what you can read:

[blockquote]Winners will receive a photography contract of $10,000 USD, a $2,000 USD travel stipend, ample promotion from Land Rover North America through Land Rover USA social media channels, be interviewed by Land Rover, and get their work featured on Land Rover digital properties and potentially advertising.[/blockquote]

This looks a true godsend, an opportunity of a lifetime. Well, if you keep reading, there’s a link to the full contest rules. And that’s when it gets really ugly!

Here is what part of the full rules say:

[blockquote]USE OF ENTRIES: By entering, entrants grant Sponsor and its licensees, successors and assigns, the assignable, perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, irrevocable, non-exclusive license to publish, reproduce, prepare derivative works of, distribute, display, exhibit, transmit, broadcast, televise, digitize, otherwise use, and permit others to use the Submission, including the names and likenesses of any persons embodied therein, in any manner, form, or format now or hereinafter created, including on the Internet, and for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising or promotion of Sponsor, all without further consent from or notice or payment to you. Released Parties (as defined below) are not responsible for any unauthorized use of Submissions by third parties […] Entrant agrees to not use the Submission for any other purpose, including, without limitation, posting the Submission to any online social networks, without the express consent of Sponsor in each instance.[/blockquote]

Let me simplify the above text for you. It basically says that just by entering the contest and therefore submitting your photos, you give the sponsor and whom ever he likes the right to use your images and possibly make loads of money from them and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it!

These companies and brands are just making a database of pictures they can use how they see fit and call it a contest. Sure the grand prize seems nice to you but to them, it’s nothing. Or if it is something, it’s a cheap way of getting some pretty decent images.

So please, I ask you, before entering a contest, however attractive the grand prize may seem, do read the fine print and make sure you retain copyright of your images.


One Response

  1. Sébastien F.

    Hello Josh,
    I must confess I totally agree with you.
    The problem seems to grow with the Internet by the way ;)
    AND it looks like these conditions slowly become “the state of the art”… It is a pity :/


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