Smoke and mirrors photograph contest

March 23, 2021

On-line Picture Contest Directories, with monetary ties to photograph contest entrepreneurs, are used as a advertising and marketing platform to lift the profile and visibility of questionable contests.

Inside imagery found that two main on-line photograph contest directories, Picture Contest Guru and Picture Contest Deadlines, are hosted on the identical servers as a secure of worldwide photograph contests shrouded in secrecy. Each directories additionally aggressively market these photograph contests.

No extra photograph contests, more cash

In 2018, the brilliantly nominated Worldwide Photographer of the 12 months (IPOTY) and the Monochrome Awards have been each honored for itemizing the judges who had no involvement in contests.

Famend judges lend credibility and legitimacy to competitions, and that’s the reason there’s a main effort to current an esteemed jury. However when a photographer is listed as a contest decide, however has no precise function, it misleads the contestants and a serious lack of integrity within the contest. There may be doubtlessly a authorized argument concerning false promoting. This was the case with IPOTY and the Monochrome Awards.

Three different for-profit competitions, the Advantageous Artwork Images Awards, the ND Awards and the MonoVisions Awards, have been then discovered to be hosted on the identical server or related through Google Analytics. The 5 photograph contests lack fundamental particulars on who runs or operates these companies.

Sadly, within the murky world of photograph contests, this tends to be the rule somewhat than the exception.

PDN linked contests to a Polish-born, London-based photographer Martin Stavars, who additionally used the alias Sebastian Stavars, through Google Analytics accounts and cached internet pages.

The contests share extra similarities, corresponding to utilizing the same web site template and getting money prizes with out model sponsorship. The ND Awards first prize is $ 2,500, MonoVisions $ 3,000, Monochrome $ 2,000, and so forth.

The topic has been revisited this 12 months by Dpreview, after posting a gallery of the Monochrome Awards 2020. Two judges each pointed to an especially questionable judging course of – each filed below 1,000 photographs of the 7,000 obvious entries. It was not clear to them how a winner was in the end chosen.

However what’s extra telling is that not one of the contests, nor their mysterious organizers, responded to the varied media claims. Nobody intervened to dismiss or make clear the allegations. If it sounds doubtful, smells doubtful, and nobody denies it is doubtful – nicely, possibly it’s? Moreover IPOTY, the entire above talked about contests proceed to run efficiently.

It must be identified that ND, MonoVisions and the Advantageous Artwork Images Awards haven’t been accused of getting a crooked judging system. Inside imagery has contacted one of many judges for this 12 months’s ND Awards, who has thus far mentioned that all the things seems high quality primarily based on the e-mail correspondence, however will report when the judgment begins in October.

These 4 contests have some hidden hyperlinks between them, together with a reasonably comparable format!

Commercialize chaos

The ND Awards are led by ND Journal, a essentially inactive on-line publication that retains spinning with a month-to-month Q&A interview article. Q&A articles are the quickest and best to “write”, and every article consists of the identical eight questions. To make life even simpler for ND Journaleditor, photographers could make a “submission,” which features a template of questions and directions on methods to submit photographs, to be included in an article. ND Journal doesn’t have any clear bulletins or income streams, aside from the promotion of ND Awards.

Likewise, the Worldwide Picture Grant, one other competitors hosted on the identical Polish server because the ND and Mono Awards, is run by (one of many two publications that work as) Worldwide pictures journal. And, once more, the web site additionally lacks exercise and transparency. His final question-and-answer article was printed in January 2019, and earlier than that in 2017, each utilizing an identical questions.

The MonoVisions awards are managed by an internet journal known as Monovisions. As ND Journal, it has a submission part which is sort of an identical phrase for phrase. Evidently the primary function of those magazines to exist is to advertise related contests.


Direct photographers to competitions

It looks like numerous photographers are hungry to win prizes for some purpose. The market has naturally responded with an abundance of competitors, and these competitions at the moment are determined to face out from what’s quick changing into a crowded and noisy house. Noticing the extreme saturation, savvy entrepreneurs have created photograph competitors directories.

Directories maximize internet visitors and goal photograph contest contributors by optimizing search engine marketing efficiency for optimum Google outcomes. Generic Google searches for photograph contests typically result in directories, and photograph contest guru and photograph contest deadlines are among the many prime outcomes, together with many others.

Directories are for-profit in themselves, serving as a devoted and impartial advertising and marketing division. Though itemizing a contest is free, paying a price offers better visibility via graphical adverts or distinguished positions above the waterline.

However the photograph contest guru and photograph contest deadlines do not appear to be reliable contest directories.

Just like the sketchy photograph contests they each aggressively promote, each do not embody fundamental contact data, together with contact types or e mail addresses. No data on promoting charges, or who runs the enterprise, and even in what nation it’s offered out.

The 2 directories share the identical format and the privateness insurance policies are the identical. Picture Contest Deadlines is hosted on the identical London-based server, Linode, because the disgraced and defunct IPOTY, in addition to the MonoVisions Awards; whereas Picture Contest Guru is hosted on a Poland-based server,, additionally shared with the Mono Awards, ND Awards, Chromatic Colour Awards and the Worldwide Picture Grant.

At present, each directories market the MonoVisions and ND awards by exhibiting each competitions as a “ Featured Images Contest, ” in graphic adverts and throughout Fb pages.

The ND Awards Picture Contest Deadline Fb web page.

Picture Contest Guru additionally has a weblog submit, ‘Finest photograph contests to take part in 2021“. 5 of the competitions are prestigious, such because the Sony World Images Awards or the Nationwide Geographic Images Competitors. The opposite 5? Advantageous Artwork Images Awards, Monochrome Images Awards, MonoVisions, ND Awards and Chromatic Colour Images Awards (a brand new photograph competitors sharing the identical Polish server because the Monochrome Awards).

Directories have taken on the guise of third-party web sites, however the primary function is clearly to advertise questionable contests and equate them with extra reliable worldwide awards.

There’s a tiny chance that that is pure co-incidence. That each one of those organizations are separate entities. However it’s extremely doubtless that “ Martin Stavars ” quietly and efficiently put collectively a large and massively worthwhile photograph contest syndicate. It is an ecosystem, with an inside advertising and marketing platform to ship unsuspecting photographers to certainly one of its many contests.

To his credit score, that is sensible sufficient, and there could be much less to be involved about if there wasn’t proof of the shortage of integrity in his contests. Or the truth that he considers it essential to function in secrecy and to cover within the shadows.

Crunch the numbers

Whereas the aforementioned photograph contests are lyrical about discovering and celebrating wonderful photographs from proficient photographers, do not get me flawed, the primary function of those for-profit companies is to generate income. Some huge cash.

Picture contests could be massively profitable and are in all probability one of many largest (but unrecognized) areas of development within the photograph trade.

The 2020 Worldwide Images Fellowship claims to have garnered 3879 submissions at US $ 19 per entry. This represents an entrance price of US $ 73,701. In 2019, the grant claimed to obtain 3,308 purposes, producing US $ 62,852 in charges. The winner takes dwelling US $ 1,000.

The 2017 ND Awards acquired 6,849 entries, with early submissions starting from $ 15 to $ 25 and last submissions starting from $ 20 to $ 30. Assuming all entries have been early submissions on the lowest value, US $ 15, or $ 102,000 entry price.

The 2020 MonoVisions Awards claimed to have acquired 3,650 entries at $ 25 per submission. That is US $ 91,000, with two winners receiving US $ 3,000 or US $ 2,000.

Despite the fact that the three magazines are solely turning the web page, sustaining them whereas operating over 5 photograph contests and two photograph directories is a colossal enterprise. Stavars has undoubtedly discovered a full-time job. If it hadn’t been for the invention of chopping corners in a number of circumstances (i.e. forgetting to ask the judges to evaluate), all the things could be high quality.

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About Adam Gray

Adam Gray

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