Can Giving Away a Photo Earn You Cash?

For photographers looking to make a name for themselves, few things can provide a faster boost than winning a photo contest. While the World Press Photo Awards, announced recently, might be beyond reach of some photopreneurs, there’s no shortage of smaller competitions that are open to the public. But even when entry is free and you have a picture that you can submit, it doesn’t mean that a competition carries no cost at all.

The Global Health Council’s Annual Photo Contest (deadline extended until 3/15), for example, kicked up a bit of a storm among photographers. They noted that there was no prize money and, more importantly, that the Health Council retained the right to use all photographs submitted without paying a royalty.

As far as the Council was concerned, the contest was an easy way to load up on free images. So what’s in it for photographers?

According to many, nothing. They see competitions like this as a way to get photographers to work for free — and find the principle outrageous. Others though note that they’re helping a non-profit and that the exposure can help to get other jobs. As Tanya Habjouqa, the Global Health Council’s 2006 winner, pointed out on

“I never got any work for winning the global health contest, but I did for winning the Interaction Humanitarian Contest. An NGO media consultant saw me in the list of winners and contacted me cold turkey to photograph for their annual report in Morocco.”

Of course, it’s not just contests that can get you this sort of job-winning exposure. There’s no reason why you couldn’t donate images to local pressure groups, charities and non-profits. Just make sure that you retain the rights, that you don’t give away your best shots and that your name is clearly marked. You’ll be winning your own contests every day.

Speaking of daily contests, check out EarthShots Photo of the Day as another in extending your reach.

[tags]Photo Contests, Awards[/tags]

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