The other day I came across another of these pay per entry photography competitions.
This time it was Facebook sponsored post connected to the British Journal of Photography ( BJoP). $15 per entry.
As the post was on Facebook it naturally attracted some skepticism from others and rightly so yo might think as there are more and more of these pay to be featured/reviewed/get followers/get in a gallery type 'competitions' floating around the internet.
What I found with this one was a bit of a badly worded offer once you looked at the web site. It wasn't actually from the BJoP but directed you to a site called open walls. The offer was to have your photography exhibited in an exhibition in France in 2019. Not bad you might think... but for $15?? .. sounds to good to be true.? You mean the printing/framing/shipping to France for $15... this was the unclear bit and why people deduced it might be a scam. The sponsored post on Facebook was clearly not monitored and had appeared several times on my feed and had a fair amount of people calling it a scam each time I saw it including 'why bother entering these comps' type of replies, so I decided to call the BJoP and make them aware and to see if it was genuine. The guy confirmed it was genuine but didn't know if it included printing/framing etc
As if by magic, within half an hour the Facebook post had had replies from BJoP. Sadly only directing all the contributors individually to the open walls site again and not actually addressing contributor concerns. One post pointed out that the BJoP had existed since 1854 and therefore must be genuine. Sadly this didn't take into account the quickly written and vague TnC's that are on the site that didn't convince entrants that the weight of history and professionalism might actually come through in a simple competition like this.
Recently I have been approached by several people to ask if I would like to be featured/reviewed/published etc for a small fee.
Another example I have was on Instagram from Beautiful Home Inspiration who started off by being very complimentary about my photos and offering me to be featured on their IG page. So I replied asking 'I guess you charge per submission?' What I got back was a copy/paste standard message now I was on their radar offering to be featured to 100k followers. 1 post $35, 2 post $45 up to 10 posts $145 - I'll receive 200-300 new followers per shutout with a handy pay-pal link included.!
Now I dont know when the world started to spin backwards but at one time photographers were paid for their work. All the photographers I know are hard working, dedicated individuals who have taken years to hone their craft and spent countless thousands of pounds on gear and getting out to the wild at dawn to get a shot or working with products or models to get the valuable experience that means that others can appreciate their art. The culture seems to be that we are the ones who have to pay these days or clever sites and groups have made us feel like that unless we pay for exposure, we are never going to be seen or get anywhere with our work.
How are we to trust which competitions and offers are going to lead to exposure/gallery exhibitions etc and which are not genuine?
Is the web now a place that you can't trust if anyone is actually going to further your career?
Should we take things into our own hands and manage our own exposure and online presence?
I'd love to hear any comments on similar experiences.