Simone's Kitchen

Entering in photography challenges – why you should!


Since I started the Donna Hay challenge – that has since changed to a more generic challenge – there is one thing I couldn’t help but noticing. There are tons of people that react enthusiastically to the concept or the particular challenge but when it comes to actually participating the number of entries is not always so big. And don’t get me wrong, I sure understand why you can’t find time or why you can’t find the right props or why it’s simply not convenient. And I have a confession to make too ; if I think about how many photography challenges I entered in my lifetime I can say there were only two to date. Not counting my own challenge ofcourse as that would be cheating.
The first challenge I entered was for wedding photographer of the year 2010 (in the Netherlands) and guess what? I won that challenge!!! Now if anything, that should have prompted me to compete more but it didn’t.


I can sometimes get very insecure about my own photos. I hesitate endlessly when it comes to participating in challenges or contests. I think my photos will be the laughing stock of the judges and at best be mediocre. So I go through my photos and decline one after the other for entering. And end up not doing it at all. And then by the time the winners are revealed I think – mildly surprised – that I wouldn’t have looked too bad among those entries. But by then it’s too late.
I entered in the pink lady food photographer contest last year. Didn’t win anything but it was still a good exercise in trying to look at your own shots through someone else’s eyes. But because I am sure a lot of you have similar self doubts I thought I give you some reasons why it’s a good thing to enter these challenges. And might make me do it too!

  • It will get you out of your comfort zone. Let’s face it; given the opportunity, people do tend to stay within certain safe limits. You follow a set pattern that works for you but sometimes it is refreshing to try something you would have never done otherwise.
  • It might teach you something new
  • It gives you the change to get your work out there and in front of other people. If anything, it will get you extra exposure.


  • Because a contest or challenge usually has a theme or some rules to follow it is also interesting to see what other contestants come up with. Looking at it from a different angle is always interesting I think.
  • If entering in a blog related challenge such as DMBLGIT or our own photo challenge it will get your blog out there and get you more traffic. Maybe not so important if your blog has been existing for a while but certainly a good thing when you’re new to blogging. And everyone needs traffic.
  • It might also give you the confidence boost you need. That’s not to say that not winning will be demotivating! Even the act of selecting your photo or preparing your shot can make you feel better about yourself.
  • It’s a great learning experience. Wether you’re a seasoned photographer or a newbie you can always learn something new and if you have no idea where to start there are always people available that are willing to help.
  • Practice, practice, practice… As with anything in life, the saying; practice makes perfect, is simply true. You can’t expect to be brilliant on your first try (although that’s what we all want right?)  It takes skills and knowledge to get to that next level and by entering challenges or giving yourself a challenge you get the necessary practice to do just that. You’ll be amazed at what you can do!



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  1. You are so right. I wish I had more courage…. no, I think I am just lazy and distracted! I so desire to improve and explore my photography and your challenges are always – challenging and intelligent and inspiring. I need to print this post out and pin it up where I can see it and read it every day. And I LOVE your middle photo…. amazing!

  2. Just like you, I don’t have the courage to take part in photography contests/challenges as I feel complexed and don’t believe my pictures are good enough to be shown anywhere else than on my blog. But, at the same time, I am too lazy and prefer to concentrate on my blog instead (it is already quite time-consuming and challenging as I set the bar high)… 😉

    Your pictures are always gorgeous!



  3. All the reasons you stated are absolutely correct, yet the main and first step is to get the courage to actually do it. I think all “normal” people would have the same fear that their photos (or writing :() are not good enough for challenges…

    I just need to highlight that your photos are really really really good… you should not have any fear about them:)

  4. I can’t imagine you being shy to enter, but I think you’re right. We are our worst critic. When people say they like my photos on my site, I usually think “they don’t know any better; they haven’t seen the really good blogs.” I’m going to think more about getting out of my comfort zone. Your photos are always wonderful. I have still not figured out light box and it’s on my computer, so I do almost no editing, and that’s where I want to go now.

  5. I meant light room in that comment.

  6. Thanks for your great post, Simone! It makes me feel much better. I did take part in some challenges and last year I won – the third place in a monthly round up for a humble tartine with homemade cheese. But in my eyes it wasn’t a big deal and not to compare with the challenges you are hosting – your’s are more for advanced persons and I am still a rookie. BUT, and you are so right, Simone, only challenges let us grow and so I hope to find the time to take part in one of your challenges this year.

    • I really don’t see the challenge on JC for advanced people only Sandy. Or I hope not anyway… 😉 I definitely think it should be for any level of photography. And I do think the entries show there is people of every level that jump in… But then again I am not much better in participating either.. haha… 😉

  7. Such a well written article. I really liked reading it. It also reflects how experienced and well seasoned photographer you are. Thanks for sharing the tips.
    I participated in 3 DMBLGiT contests and dint win anything, but i did learn a lot. Good exposure:)

  8. You have such a beautiful blog. I have to agree with you on challenges. I think it definitely pushes you out there and tests your confidence levels. It can be quite intimidating but definitely worth the learning experience and exposure.

  9. I’ve just bought nearly every book I can find on food styling and food photography. Now if I can just find the time to read and digest them properly maybe I’d dare. 🙂

  10. I agree with you. This kind of challenges make me explore and make new things in photography. A challenge can offer you the opportunity to see some other works which entered it and see that there are so many ways to confront it or even see your mistakes and how to improve it. I’m really glad that I found your challenges one day and I hope to keep entering in order to challenge myself 😉

  11. You’re so right, it’s good to push ourselves out of our comfort zone – it’s the best way to grow!

  12. When it comes to my food photography I am so thankful that I have discovered your challenges because they help and inspire me so much to go on further and further with my photograpy and to enjoy this journey!! And I can only recommend everyone to take part in those challenges because the only thing which will happen is that you win experience. There is just nothing you can loose, or have you ever laughed about any photo entries? I guess no, and same it is with me, so, why there should be other to laugh about someones entry? This I have at least always in mind when I take part in a challenge.
    And that this month I will not take part in your challenge is just that there are too many other activities go around these days. But next time again 🙂

  13. I agree that its a great idea to be a part of photography competitions for various reasons. I also hesitate sometimes for the same reasons you mentioned! 😀
    Having taken part in challenges on the other hand, especially themed ones, has helped because they make me think and explore ideas which I might not otherwise do. We all see our work differently from others who look at it so anything that involves feedback is even better because it helps one grow.
    I really enjoyed the Donna Hay/ Styling challenges, Simone. So thanks for that.

  14. Simone, you are so right. Your photo challenges are the only food ones that I do, and I have really enjoyed it. It makes me get creative and not just snap a shot. I recently joined a camera club and enter their contests monthly (non-food related) and I have placed several times. It has given me the courage to enter the International Association of Culinary Professionals food photo challenge. I don’t expect to win at all, actual I don’t care if I do, but my photo will be on display and viewed by many professionals. Honestly if I hadn’t done some of the other challenges I never would have even thought of participating. So thank you for being so inspiring.

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