1. Firstly, be pleased for the winners and those who have been commended. It used to be said in this country that it was not the winning that mattered, but the taking part. Now it seems that we all feel that we deserve recognition. To be a good winner you need to be a gracious loser.
2. There are no male / female images, only images.
3. Earlier this year, I heard a radio report that cited research had revealed that men who considered that they were 50% qualified for a job would apply for it; women who considered themselves 85% qualified would not. So perhaps it is us who are less competitive and not our images. I won’t get into M-F styles of image making as men make quiet, considered, images too.
4. We know what we like and we like what we know. Collective decisions make it harder for the atypical to succeed. Tastes change slowly over time, if at all.
5. Accept that there may be other considerations of which you are not aware – for example sponsorship may mean that a certain type of image or subject receives more attention.
6. UK competitions often still shortlist on the basis of small images – in contrast to certain European competitions which even at entry ask for larger files – so your quietly considered image rich in detail may not sing in the few seconds it is viewed in Round 1.
7. We aren’t the best judges of our own work, at the time. If you look back at entries from previous years you may well feel differently about them than you did when submitting.
8. We learn more by our mistakes than by getting it right. But most competitions offer no feedback, so how do you learn from not winning? And indeed should you – unless you really want to mould your photography to someone else’s taste, or duplicate what has gone before?
9. If you buy a lottery ticket, while you may hope to win, you know the odds are against you. Shortlisting stages are akin to a lottery. If you aren’t willing to accept the results, don’t buy a ticket.
10. We’re all winners. We get to do something that we love and sometimes other people like it; occasionally something more happens.