Photography Competition Q&A with Elizabeth Reeves

Read on to learn about how Elizabeth Reeves’ journey into the awards realm has allowed her to grow and develop as an artist, how through resilience and perspective you can have your biggest lessons, and how it is courage that allows you to grow in the end.


How many years have you been entering photography competitions? And why did you start entering?

I first started entering competitions back in 2014. I was still relatively new to photography. Like many, it started as an obsession of taking photos of my children, which then evolved into an interest in photography. I think at the time, part of me was seeking validation and recognition in such a large and at times overwhelming industry, but it ended up being so much more than that. It became a way to challenge myself, personally and professionally. It has directly helped me to develop my skill and find my own style and I have forged some lifelong friendships along the way.

What award or honour are you most proud of achieving?

My first Gold award will always stand out to me. It was my first years of entering, and I really did not know what to expect from it. Two out of four of my images had already been awarded a silver and silver distinction. I was aiming for one silver, or at least a professional standard and the thought of a gold wasn’t even on my mind. The two awards I had already received was more than I’d hoped for. I was watching on live stream, and just as my image came up, the internet cut out. Whilst I was frantically trying to get it back up and running, I had messages from friends come through on my phone and was told that my image was being challenged to Gold. I don’t recall my heart ever pumping so fast. I broke down in tears when I saw “GOLD!” written in one of the messages that had come through. I have had a few other moments, including winning a gold distinction which received the highest scoring print award and winning AIPP 2017 QLD Photographer of the Year, however the emotion of winning that first Gold award is something I will never forget.


What is the lowest score you’ve ever received? And what was your biggest take away from that?

My lowest score was a 74. It was disappointing at first, but what I took away from it was valuable for my development and skill and has helped shape the photographer that I am today. I learnt that in any awards system, sometimes you get knocked back or take a blow that you were’t expecting, but you need to remember its not personal. Resilience and perspective is a key factor in surviving the low scores and disappointment. Sometimes we become so attached to an image that we overlook things that others pick up on. It is easy to give up out of disappointment and damage to our pride, but then what would you gain from it by giving up? Instead of focusing on the negative feelings, I took any feedback that was given on board, I went over each and every image after I received my scores to look for the areas that I could improve on. I learnt that in some images there were technical flaws that I had missed, and as a result it made me more conscious of making the same errors in the future. I was constantly looking for ways to improve on my skill-set, both in photography itself and post production.

What has entering competitions done for your business?

I enter mostly for myself, however I do use the awards in all of my marketing materials, such as my pricing guide that goes out when a client makes an enquiry with me, my webpage and all my social media pages as well as displays the studio. Questionnaires that I have done in the past to previous clients has shown that the awards have been part of the reason that they have chosen me as their photographer.

I also find that it has given me many creative opportunities. Families often come to me me after they have seen previous awards, with ideas to create something special and unique for themselves as a way of telling their own stories. When I create an image for the awards, the families involved absolutely love taking part in it all, and in turn they have shared the experience and image with their family and friends which has brought in more business and opportunities through word of mouth.

What advice would you give to someone entering for the first time?

Don’t be discouraged if you get a lower score than you were expecting. Instead focus on learning from it to push you further next time around. Treat the experience as a journey; your future self will look back on how far you have come. I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

-Winston Churchill

newborn-photography-awardsYou can see more of Elizabeth’s beautiful work here…

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