Photography competitions are a fun way to see what others think of your work and usually give you a shot at winning something, if not a little exposure. The downside to some of these competitions is that they cost money. The fees usually go towards the judges of the competitions, but if you do the math, some of the larger competitions are making quite of bit of money. That said, it may be an opportunity for you to get your work in front of some people who are influential in the photographic world. I've listed a few that have deadlines in Spring 2012, and we will continually post competitions as their deadlines approach as well. Good luck!
BANFF MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION (Mountain Photography)
Banff has been running for 16 years strong now and represents a very robust crowd of high adventure photographers and people. While you may think that you need to be able to ice climb to enter this contest, many winners have produced stories about the cultures surrounding the mountains. This year, Banff continues to focus on the mountain theme with MOUNTAIN EXPLORATION AND ADVENTURE as the banner. Entries must be 2-7 images, hence a storytelling format, and you must hurry, the deadline is April 2, 2012. Enter here.
PDN'S GREAT OUTDOORS PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION (Outdoor Photography)
Judged by photo editors from The Surfer's Journal, Audobon Magazine, Powder Magazine, and Outdoor Canada, this competition is a large sweep of the some of the best outdoor photographers in the business. A $35 entry fee will get you in if you are a professional, and a $12 entry fee will be required for amateurs. This competition has some categories that are a bit more specific such as "Parks and Safaris," "Beaches, Islands, and Underwater," and "Plants, Animals, Insects, and Gardens," so perhaps your killer image of a national park isn't fighting against that underwater image of sharks swimming around a diver. The visibility is wide, as PDN circulates well among the various industries, and all first-place winners will have their images printed in the magazine. The deadline is April 26, 2012, but there is always an extension for an extra $10. Enter here.
OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER'S GREAT OUTDOORS CONTEST (Outdoor Photography)
One of the classic print (and now online magazines) is having its annual "Great Outdoors Contest" which features a variety of nice prizes such as a Tamron lens, a Gitzo tripod, a Manfrotto tripod, and tons of extras. Outdoor Photographer is known for its focus on landscape photography as well as other outdoor genres is this is a low-costing contest with the chance to enter up to five images. The final deadline is April 10, 2012. Enter here.
SANTA FE WORKSHOPS SEMI-ANNUAL COMPETITION (Portrait Photography)
Santa Fe Workshops has a long history of providing top quality workshops in many different genres. They have high caliber presenters, and this competition has series of well known figures in the photographic world. The theme is focused on portraits, and there are some nice prizes including a free workshop and a Gitzo Leveling 3S G-Lock GT2531LVL Tripod and Mag Centre Quick Release GH2780QR Ball Head. Not bad. The second and third place awards aren't bad either. There is a $40 entry fee for three images and a $10 fee for each additional image. The final deadline is April 30, 2012. Enter here.
PDN's FACES PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST (Portrait Photography)
Photo District News (PDN) always offers a large photographic contest with plenty of competition, but also with an excellent panel of judges from GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire (UK), and PDN. There is a $35 entry fee for professionals and $15 entry fee for amateurs. These fees generally go up after a deadline has been reached. The deadline is May 23, 2012. Enter here.
B&W'S SINGLE IMAGE CONTEST (All genres)
B&W merged with Color magazine, but still runs two contests a year. On April 1, 2012, B&W opens for its Single Image Contest and remains open until June 1, 2012. The advantage to this competition is that there are many winners, approximately 170, and most are published in the magazine. It can be a wonderful time to get an image published. On the downside, the submission process is a bit cumbersome, and photographers must submit a CD by mail--no uploads. Opens April 1st, 2012 and the deadline is June 30, 2012. Submission details here.
RANGEFINDER'S BEST FRIENDS ULTIMATE ANIMAL PHOTO CONTEST (Animal Photography)
Rangefinder Magazine is the group that runs WPPI, and this competition is geared towards those who love their pets, although it appears you can enter pictures of animals in the wild. The judges are from publications such as Cat Fancy, The Bark, and National Wildlife. All first place winners will receive a dSLR (although the type is not specified), as well as ancillaries such as MasterClasses and registration at WPPI 2013. The deadline is April 27th, 2012. Enter here.