Last call for the Photocritic long exposure competition!

British Summer Time ends this weekend&Mdash;at 02:00 on Sunday, to be exact—which means that time is running out for you to submit your long exposure photos to our competition. We won't be accepting any more entries after the clocks move back, so if you want to be in with a chance of winning a £40 gift card for the Triggertrap shop, you'd better get your skates on. Late night in East London

All of the competition's rules and regulations, not that there are many of them, can be found on the Flickr pool page, the same place to which you need to submit your entries. There've been some cracking shots submitted so far, but we'd really love to see more in the pool!

Good luck!

Patience is a virtue, but we're impatient to see your long exposure photos!

You've just under a week left to submit a maximum of five of your favourite long exposure photos to our competition, and be in with the chance of winning one of five £40 gift cards for the Triggertrap shop. We've already had some terrific entries over in our Flickr pool, but we'd love it if you made the judging even more difficult for us! Triangles galore!

To enter, upload your image to Flickr and share it in our competition pool. There are some rules and regulations, you can find them on Flickr pool page or here on Photocritic.

We can't wait to see your photos!

Patience is a virtue - a long exposure photo competition

Good things come to those who wait, or at least good things come to those with the requisite degree of patience required to capture a scintillating long exposure shot. Not only do you land yourself with a fabulous photo, but for this competition, rewards also come in the form of five gift cards valued at £40 to spend in the Triggertrap shop! We're on the look-out for the five best long exposure shots produced by you lovely lot. That's not the royal or editorial 'we', by the way, but Haje, Tom, who's Triggertrap's Head of Photography, and me. We don't mind what kind of long exposure shot you try: from urban scenes to light painting to smoothed waterfalls. What we want to see is a longer-than-expected shutter speed being used to creative effect to tell a story. We want to see images that leave us giddy with admiration.

Follow the points of light

Flickr is providing the image-hosting power for the competition; all you need to do is share your photos—up to five per entrant—in the Patience is a virtue Flickr pool before British Summer Time ends. So that's 01:59 (BST) on 26 October 2014. Consider it preparation for longer nights if you're in the northern hemisphere. We'll do the rest, and hope to have the results by Guy Fawkes Night. (Or 5 November 2014.)

(Un)Usual rules apply: you need to own the copyright to the images you submit; you shouldn't have done anything icky to achieve them (like sell your granny); you keep the copyright but we (that being Photocritic and Triggertrap) will want to be able to display it in conjunction with the competition; the prizes are non-transferable and can't be redeemed for cash; you can't be associated with Photocritic or Triggertrap to enter; the judges' decision is final; entry is at your own risk (quite what might happen to you because you enter I'm not sure, it's not like we're cannibals threatening to eat you, but we can't be held responsible all the same); photos have to be submitted to the Flickr pool before the closing date of 01:59 (BST) on 26 October 2014; and it's our competition so if we need to change the way it operates or the rules or heaven forfend chuck you out, we can.

That's about that. But if you need any advice on long exposures, you might want to check out our articles on shutter speed, bulb mode, zoom bursting, and light painting. Good luck: we can't wait to see what you produce!

And the results are in! You can see them here.

Calls for entries! Care to pit yourself against the photographic opposition?

If you're brave enough to pit yourself against fellow photographers, the following competitions have made calls for entries recently. We try to feature only competitions that don't appear to attempt nasty rights grabs from their entrants, but please do read the terms and conditions carefully prior to entry.

Sony World Photography Awards 2015

With categories for professionals, amateurs, students, and young people, the Sony World Photography Awards have somewhere for any type of photographer to submit their images. Prizes include kit and cash, as well as a glitzy awards ceremony held in London.

  • Professional – 15 categories judged on a series of work
  • Open – 10 categories judged on a single image
  • Youth – three categories for photographers under 20. Judged on a single image
  • Student Focus – for higher education photography students aged 18-30

The Open and Youth competitions will close for entries at 23:59 GMT on Monday 5 January 2015. The Professional competition will close at 23:59 GMT on Thursday 8 January 2015.

Winner of the Open Category: Chen Li for his 'Rain in an Ancient Town' (Chen Li (China) Winner Open Travel 2014 Sony World Photography Awards)
Winner of the Open Category: Chen Li for his 'Rain in an Ancient Town' (Chen Li (China) Winner Open Travel 2014 Sony World Photography Awards)

All details and entry instructions can be found on the World Photography Organisation website.

Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2015

We're not overly keen on paid-for competitions here at Photocritic, but the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition has an excellent young people's competition that's free to enter. And we love encouraging kids and teens to get out with their cameras. Under 18s can enter three photos free of charge into their age category, they just have to be of food. The competition closes on 8 February 2015 at midnight GMT.

Philip Harben Award for Food in Action: Tessa Bunney (UK/PDR of Lao) - Noodle Making.
Philip Harben Award for Food in Action: Tessa Bunney (UK/PDR of Lao) - Noodle Making.

All details and entry instructions can be found on the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year website.

FXB 'Framing Hope' competition

The NGO FXB is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a photography competition. It is asking entrants to capture the concept of hope in one image. All entries will be displayed in an online gallery, with the five most-voted for by the public, shortlisted for judging by our expert panel who will select the overall winner.

The prize for the winning entry will be an exclusive half-day photography masterclass with photographer Jillian Edelstein and the opportunity to have her or his photograph exhibited alongside Edelstein’s at London’s gallery@oxo in August.

Hope in one frame?
Hope in one frame?

Entries can be submitted until 25 July 2014 and submission details can be found on the competition website.

EyeEm announces its Photography Awards and Festival 2014

New kit. Maybe some cash. Global exhibition. Publication in a 'Best of 2014' photobook. A trip to Berlin. Sound good? They're all prizes that are up for grabs for winners of the EyeEm Global Photography Awards. Starting today, photo-sharing site EyeEm is looking for the best examples of mobile photography to showcase at the Berlin Holzmarkt as part of its photography festival in September this year. There are ten categories into each of which you can submit a maximum of three images.

Take a photo

Open now are the Portraitist, the Illusionist, and the Explorer categories. That round closes on 1 June, to be followed by the Architect, the Street Photographer, and the Illuminator categories, which are open to submissions from 2 June. The final round opens on 16 June and comprises categories the Speedster, the Landscapist, the Storyteller, and the Stylist.

All you have to do is upload your chosen images to EyeEm and tag them with the appropriate category in the Share screen. If you don't already have an EyeEm account, it's free to join.

b_EyeEm Awards Website

The winners will be chosen by a jury of ten illuminaries from the photographic world, including Anna Dickson, the Huffington Post's Director of Photography, conflict photographer Benjamin Lowy, and Olivier Laurent, who edits TIME's Lightbox magazine. As well as being exhibited at Berlin's Holzmarkt as part of EyeEm's Photography Festival running 12-13 September, winning images will be showcased to the public in London, New York City, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, and Tokyo. And the talented entrant named as the EyeEm Photographer of the Year will win a round-trip to Berlin for two, to experience the Festival!

'We’re looking forward to celebrating this new generation of budding photographers, who are defining a new era, with the launch of our Global Photography Festival & Awards,' says Florian Meissner, co-founder and CEO of EyeEm. 'Photography has changed significantly in recent years and at EyeEm we see smartphone photography as a natural evolution of the art form. The creative excellence of our community is the center of EyeEm and the Global Photography Festival & Awards are our way of continuing to support and show the world this incredible talent.'

The EyeEm Photography Festival runs over the 12 and 13 September 2014. It aims to highlight the creative images being made with mobile phones, connect leaders from the photography, devices, and media industry with the next generation of photographers to discuss the state and future of photography, and lay on photowalks, masterclasses, and portfolio reviews for attendees.

All of the details on how to enter the competition and how to book your place at the Festival are available on the EyeEm website. See you there?

Before entering a competition, read the terms and conditions

This isn't a new drum that we're beating here today, but we think it's a significantly important issue to warrant another parade: competition rights grabs. Or the attempt by competition organisers to inveigle themselves of the right to use any of the images entered into their photographic competitions, for any purposes, with no compensation to the photographer. This reminder comes as I received a call for entries to a competition run in conjunction with an organisation that I respect and trust, and hoped would be above cheap tactics to help magazines or other companies amass a photo library for free. Apparently not. To quote from the terms and conditions:

By entering your photos in the competition you agree to grant REDACTED and REDACTED a non-exclusive licence to reproduce, publish and feature the photos in association with this competition, or for any other purpose, at any time, in any publication, website or other associated media outlets, without compensation. By entering you agree to grant REDACTED and REDACTED an exclusive royalty-free licence to use the full set of images taken on your photography trip [which comprises the prize] for 12 months.

To use images submitted to contests as promotional material for the competition or its future iterations is a reasonable condition of entry; but to demand they be made available for use in any publication associated with the organisers, for any purposes, across all media, and without compensation is, in my opinion, exploitative.

I have written extensively about the damage that these terms and conditions do to both photographers and the photographic industry before now, so I shan't reprise it here. But do bear in mind that if you're seeking your big break from a competition that employs these sorts of terms, you are doing yourself and fellow photographers—amateur and professional—a disservice in the long run. Furthermore, don't assume that just because the competition is being organised by or run in conjunction with a big name that it won't be out to take advantage of you.

The finale to this performance is then: always check the terms and conditions of a competition and if you consider anything to be unsavoury, please don't enter.

Seeing as I've been asked: no, I shan't be naming the competition in question. I'd rather not bring any more publicity to it. Just read the T&Cs!

The Sony World Photography Awards 2014 - the winners

The winners of the Sony World Photography Awards were announced at a rather swanky awards dinner on Wednesday evening. There were lots of speechless speeches, some very dapper men in black tie, a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, and a ludicrously chocolately chocolate dessert. I did try to live tweet the winners, I promise. My attempts were rather frustratingly thwarted by a complete lack of signal at the venue. And you can't vouch for the fact that I picked out the winner of l'Iris d'Or, either. Ah well. I've put together a selection of winning images. Tell me what you think. Winner of l'Iris d'Or: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz for her series 'Shane and Maggie'. 'Shane and Maggie' attempts to show domestic vilence as a process, as opposed to a single incident.  (Sara Naomi Lewkowicz (USA) Finalist, Contemporary Issues Professional Competition 2014 Sony World Photography Awards)

The press view of the awards exhibition was something of a whirlwind (I think the words I used in my feedback were 'I feel as if I've been put through a blender.') but Lewkowicz's series stood out by a mile. The images are extremely powerful, in some cases you can feel the fear seeping out of them, but she's accomplished something wonderful in being able to capture them.

Winner of the Open Category: Chen Li for his 'Rain in an Ancient Town' (Chen Li (China) Winner Open Travel 2014 Sony World Photography Awards)

I don't think that I've any desire to attempt to cross a pillared bridge in the pouring rain, but this photo does make me want to try it, all the same.

Winner of the Youth category: Paulina Metzscher (Paulina Metzscher (Germany) Winner Youth Portraits 2014 Sony World Photography Awards)

The three finalists in the Youth category all submitted very strong images. If they're the future, I think the medium's safe.

Light Projection 18 - Thomas Brummett (USA) Conceptual, Professional Competition, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Protesters against the government of Tayip Erdogan and his plans for a shopping mall and pedestrianised area in the centre of Instanbul - Guy Martin (UK) Current Affairs Professional Competition, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Wet Dog 2, Sophie Gamand (France) Portraiture Competition, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

The Cold Pony, Gert van den Bosch (Netherlands) Winner Open Nature&Wildlife, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Enough to make your mouth water? The winners of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2014

The winners of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2014 were unveiled earlier this week, with the over all prize of £5,000 going to Tessa Bunney for her photo Noodle Making, drawn from the Food in Action category. According to Andy Macdonald, who sat on the judging panel: 'The competition was intensely fierce, there were 6000 images entered internationally and the standard was phenomenal. Tessa’s image stood out from the rest, however, for its beautiful composition, the expression of utter absorption on its subject’s face, and the capture of a perfect moment in time as the noodle dough flies through the air.' Philip Harben Award for Food in Action: Tessa Bunney (UK/PDR of Lao) - Noodle Making.

What do you think? Is this is a competition-winning entry? Do you agree with the judges about the shot perfectly capturing a moment in time? We've put some of the other category-winning images here so that you can compare, along with two of the Young People's entries, too.

Food Bloggers: Aniko Meneghinine Szabo (Italy) - Making Strawberry Sauce

Cream of the Crop: Louise Lister (Australia) - Spanner Crab

An Apple a Day: William Hondokosumo (Indonesia) - A Week’s Apples

Young 11-14: Katie Woodhouse (UK) - Lollipop Lawn

Young 10 & Under: Eden Crossley (UK) - Cheeky Monkey

Love, Captured: a rather sweet photo competition from eHarmony

In celebration of its fifth birthday, online dating site eHarmony is running a rather sweet photo competition; it's looking for photos that capture the essence of love. They can be slushy, smoochy depicitions of couples in love or slightly more abstract interpretations of the giddy sensation. There's a £5,000 prize for the winner, which will be selected from 25 finalists by four judges: relationship expert Jenni Trent Hughes, editor of Practical Photography Ben Hawkin, photography blogger Annie Spratt (aka ‘Mammasaurus’), and Marketing Director of, Romain Bertrand. They'll be making their decision according to three criteria: creativity, quality, and charm.

Entries can be submitted between now and 17 January 2014. You must be over 18 and a UK resident to enter, you can submit as many images as you wish, but they cannot have been previously published. As always, I recommend that you read the terms and conditions carefully. All the details are to be found on the Love, Captured website.

Good luck!

A surreally good competition winner

It's been a little while coming, we know, but Haje and I have finally settled on the winner and runner-up for our surreal-inspired photo competition. It was a very close call between the two, but we're delighted to announce that the spoils go to: Phantom Lake Phantom Lake, by They call me Alex.

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 18.58.39

and The Grind, by Hooker771

What appealed to us about both these photos was that neither relies on extensive manipulation. They're in-camera surreal creations. And they look terrific, in particular because of their gorgeous use of colour.

Congratulations both Hooker771 and They call me Alex!

The Ilex Press has very kindly provided a copy of my newest book, Surreal Photography: Creating the Impossible, for the winner. I hope that you enjoy it!

As an aside, that was the last competition that we'll be running for the forseeable future. It was a great deal of fun to dream up themes and watch you complete the briefs with such enthusiasm, but we thought that we'd quit while we're ahead. Thank you to anyone who ever entered and to those who generously provided prizes, too.

Competition rights grabs don't just exploit photographers, they destroy the industry

When we feature competitions here on Photocritic, we do our best to ensure that they're entrant-friendly: we don't like to promote contests where you run the risk of losing control over your images and we prefer not to support paid-for contests, either. If we're the slightest bit suspicious, the competition PR takes a one-way trip to the delete bin. And if we do feature a competition, we always urge you to check the terms and conditions to ensure that we haven't missed something and that you're happy with the rules.

Last night, I received a communique from an agency representing an internationally renowned publishing house requesting that Photocritic promote a competition aimed at up-and-coming photographers. The prize could be a huge break for an as-yet unrecognised but talented fashion photographer, with a commission, mentoring from some significant individuals, a gallery exhibition, and a chunk of cash.

A closer inspection of the rules, however, has ensured that this competition will not be featured positively here on Photocritic. Indeed, rather than being consigned to the dustbin of broken dreams, I'm going to highlight it for what I believe it is: a rights-grabbing exploitation of ambitious young photographers that has the potential to do them, and the photography industry as a whole, more harm than good.

The issue lies in clause 7a of the contest's rules, covering Ownership and Licence:

All entry materials become the property of the Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. The copyright in any Submission shall remain the property of the entrant, but entry into this Promotion constitutes entrant's irrevocable and perpetual permission and consent, without further compensation, with or without attribution, to use, reproduce, print, publish, transmit, distribute, sell, perform, adapt, enhance, or display such Submission, and the entrant's name and/or likeness, for any purpose, including but not limited to editorial, advertising, trade, commercial, and publicity purposes by the Sponsor and/or others authorized by the Sponsor, in any and all media now in existence or hereinafter created, throughout the world, for the duration or the copyright in the Submission. Sponsor and/or others authorized by the Sponsor shall have the right to edit, adapt, and modify the Submission.

The translation? The competition organisers can use all the images submitted to the competition any way that they want to, across any media known or currently unknown to man, without informing, compensating, or even acknowledging the photographers for the duration of the copyright.

Not only is this an exploitation of the photographers who might submit their images to the competition, but it is damaging to the photography industry as a whole. For every rights-stripped photograph entered into the competition, that's a potential commission taken out of the market. The competition organisers have created for themselves an image archive that they are at liberty to use in perpetuity without compensation. Why would they need to commission material or purchase stock when they have this at their disposal?

Flick through any magazine and you'll see hundreds of images used to bring colour and interest to articles. We use them here on Photocritic. The images aren't intrinsic to the pieces and the content won't suffer from their omission, but the articles look better for them. Team Photocritic tends to trawl through its archives in search of suitable images, but magazine publishers might turn to a stock agency or an in-house photographer for their needs.

For one of the largest and most powerful international magazine publishing houses, it doesn't matter that the images they've harvested from a particular competition are fashion shoots and won't necessarily be front cover material or suitable for splashes. They can be used to illustrate all manner of feature articles across a huge range of publications that need nothing more than a generically beautiful image: 'Ten tips for a tan-ready tummy in twenty days' or '52 things to do before you die'. These free photos can be used time and time again in a huge number of magazines, and in so doing they deprive in-house and stock photographers of work. Cover shots and fashion spreads are the prizes in fashion photography; they're not the bread-and-butter work that keeps rooves over the heads of photographers and food on their tables.

By looking for their big break when they enter a competition that's aimed at up-and-coming photographers, the entrants are quite likely doing themselves out of work in the long run. Please: always read the terms and conditions before entering a competition and don't relinquish your rights cheaply.