Yet another filing cabinet is full with rolls of negatives. The sheets piling up trip after trip, year after year, project after project. Trapped. I have so much imagery and so many experiences to share with no options to “get my work out there”. Something had to change. I feared that I would remain in a kind of purgatory, forever separated from my dream of becoming pro-photographer. I desperately started entering contests in the hopes of gaining exposure for my work. Despite rejections piling in, I persisted in entering as many contests as I could. Then my luck changed. I started to win. My images soon found their way into publications including American Photo, National Geographic Traveller, and PDN. The best prizes were not about winning digital cameras and camera bags. They displayed my work. They allowed me to share my stories, images, and experiences. Much of my current success is due to the initial exposure that my myriad contest entries provided.
Being the host of TWiT Photo has been an incredible experience, and I am fortunate that I spend time learning from some of the world’s most inspirational photographers. TWiT Photo is a platform to allow us to give back to the industry that I love. The Guest Quest contest is our way of providing the opportunity I desperately desired to the next generation of emerging photographers.
Despite good intentions, some have chosen to question the merits of the image rights necessary for us to assume to run the contest. As U.S. citizens, both contest organizers and photographers are obliged by copyright law to use some pretty intense legalese in the contest Terms – this is a fact I have had to face my entire career, and a personal decision I had to make when entering each contest. Similar to the model release that photography subjects are required to sign, which allows for the images to be legally used and manipulated, these Terms allow contest administrators to advertise and display the entrants’ images without violating any rights.
Because the purpose of the Guest Quest contest is to provide exposure to the top emerging photographer, the winner’s images will be shared across many channels. Sharing work in this way can leave the contest organizers open to legal recourse if they have not obtained the proper rights to the work. The legalese – which, to some, can sound frighteningly close to a “rights grab” — exists to cover these bases and allow us to legally offer the contest’s Grand Prize. Without this agreement, we would be unable to organize this or any other exposure driven contest.
It is an honor to receive the work that the participants in TWiT Photo Guest Quest have chosen to share with us thus far. Your efforts and imagery are inspiring and we very much look forward to sharing the portfolio of our Winner on the show. Thank you from the TWiT Photo team.