Sony World Photography Awards 2016

The Sony World Photography Awards for 2016 is open for submissions again! You may recall that I am dead against some photography competitions. However the SWPA is something I can recommend. Here is the part about usage rights from their terms and conditions:

7.2 All entrants understand that any image submitted to the competition may be used by WPO, and its Event Partners, for marketing and promotional purposes of You the author and the event only, for a maximum of three years after the awards ceremony in April 2016. You hereby grant WPO a non-exclusive, irrevocable licence in each Entry throughout the world for three years in all media for any use connected to the promotion of You the author and the SWPA event and/or competition, including, but not limited too:entrants understand that any image submitted to the competition may be used by WPO, and its Event Partners, for marketing and promotional purposes of the event only, for a maximum of three years after the awards ceremony date in April 2016. You hereby grant WPO a non-exclusive, irrevocable licence in each Entry throughout the world for three years in all media for any use connected to the promotion of the SWPA event and/or competition, including, but not limited too:

(a) judging the Competition
(b) displaying the winning entries and runners up at public exhibitions promoting WPO and organised by WPO
(c) inclusion within the Website, a World Photography Awards book, magazine or similar
(d) inclusion within any materials promoting of the Competition and / or any exhibition organised by WPO, in the promotion of the WPO
(e) inclusion on Competition- and exhibition-related products to be sold by the WPO or any third party following the individual agreement by the author
(f) sub-licencing the Entries to the press for reproduction in connection with the Competition and any exhibition
(g) allowing viewers of the Website and/or SWPA Application to view images on a computer screen, PDA or mobile telephone and store such pages in electronic form on disk or on a PDA or mobile telephone (but not on any server or other storage device connected to a network) for their personal, non-commercial use only. Please also refer to clause 9.
(h) incorporation by WPO and SWPA Event Partners in SWPA Galleries and or SWPA Gallery Applications on

Event Partner devices for a period of three (3) years after the applicable award ceremony date.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, You hereby acknowledge and agree if Your image is included in such SWPA Galleries or SWPA Gallery Applications Your image will remain perpetually in the device royalty free.

Yes admittedly that’s a lot of fine-print to go through. But that is what you have to learn to read in a world of commercial transactions, and these are the things you have to search for before entering any photo competition. Basically what it says is that for a period of three years, WPO may use your image for promotion of the SWPA event. Very reasonable terms.

So you are wondering whether you should sign up? Wondering if you are “good enough”? If you are confident with the technical soundness of your images, go for it. I have participated in and observed the results of some photography competitions, and my observation is that the winner outcome is usually unpredictable. The judges look through tens of thousands of images made by photographers trying to create a “winning look”. It is no surprise that many of the submitted images eventually look similar, since there are themes and compositions that are obviously visually pleasing. A photographer can create a “signature” beautiful image that everyone finds very pleasing, but the judges may have already seen it a thousand times this year, last year, and the year before. So do not be surprised that the “obvious” image entries do not win. I have seen results of photography competitions where I went, “What? Really? This won?”

An honest fact: An image that you could license for tens of thousands of dollars may not win a competition. And an image that wins a competition may be worthless to any potential licensee. Who knows if the judges may find your image different enough to stand out from the rest. So go give it a try. You have until 5 January 2016 to submit any image you took in 2015. Have fun!

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