Fake Photo Competitions - Avoiding These Scams :: Digital Photo Secrets

Fake Photo Competitions - Avoiding These Scams

by David Peterson 78 comments

Think your photos are great? Think you could win a competition or two? Be aware of the fine print before entering any Internet photo competitions... you might save yourself a lot of grief.

Search for "Photo Competition" on the Internet, and you'll be greeted with lots of ads and websites that run photo competitions for amateurs.

Be aware that some of these are scams hoping to fleece amateur photographers out of cash.

Here's what happens in these scams:
  • You upload your photos to a competition website.
<li>They write back with an ecstatic email or letter telling you how great your photos are</li>

<li>They will print your photo in a new book called "2007 Brilliant New Photographers" (or something similar)</li>

<li>In some variations, they even say your photo will be on the cover!</li>

<li>You have the option of purchasing one (or more than one) of these books - at over $50 each.</li>

Of course you are honored that your photo has been selected (and on the cover, no less!) so shell out for a few copies of the book.

And this is the scam: Every single person who uploads their photos receives the ecstatic email and is printed in the book. Even if their photos are ordinary. So your photo is printed with lots of ordinary photos and not a 'winner' at all. For the 'cover photo' variations, they print a unique book for you and place your photo on a flimsy cover.

Other variations invite you to purchase a trophy or attend a photography conference (for even more money).

So you've paid a lot of money to receive something that is of questionable value.

Now technically, these sites do give you what they promise. However, be vary careful to not get sucked in when you hear that your photo is fantastic - they are just telling you what every amateur photographer wants to hear.

Ways to avoid these scams:

  • Always read the fine print.
<li>Don't enter competitions where you give away your rights to your work. Most legit competitions only ask for the permission to reprint your photo if you win - not demand rights from everyone who enters.</li>

<li>Check that the competition only accepts photos that have not been published before.</li>

<li>Only enter competitions from recognized big names (like Canon, Nikon, or your local newspaper)</li>

<li>Finally, do your homework. Do a search for the website name and 'scam' in Google and see what comes up.</li>

These sites fill a need for those who want to see their images in print. If you want to see your photo printed in a book, my recommendation is you do it yourself. Most of the online photo printing companies give you an option to print your photos as books.

Have you had a bad experience with one of these sites? What about a good experience with a competition? Share it below.

Most people think this post is Awesome. What do you think?


  1. Kerry Hall says:

    I have enjoyed Photo Persuit for the past year, Now I find it to be a sham . Any one else had this humiliating experience?? WHY DO THIS TO GOOD PEOPLE???/

  2. paula key says:

    IX Photo Awards offers really large cash prizes. They require a $20 entry fee.
    Any comments. Thanks, paula

    • Bill says:

      IX is a scam. Don't send money to them. They keep your photos and sell them.

  3. edwin says:


    i m an amateur photographer. i got a mail from see.me asking me to pay $60 for exhibition in new york is it true? pl help me asap

    • Anne G. says:

      No, it isn't. See.Me is a scam. William Etundi is the founder and he works alone with an assistent. he asks artists for money and he puts their photos in a powerpoint that plays in his office in new yrok. it's so bad i was chosen for it and visited with my family and it was definitly a scam.

  4. A Williams says:

    A man I know has been told he has just won 1st. prize in a comp. connected to Sigma. The prize is for two people to go on a years assignment to 50 countries world wide taking photos all expenses paid etc.
    The contact appears to be in Germany. He has not been asked for money in any way yet. The trip is to start in October in the USA and then go to S.America and so on.
    The costs and arrangments for such a trip are mind boggling and I wonder if there are 50 countries that you could get into as well as safely out again.
    Has anyone heard of this competition? I would value your comments.
    Thank you

  5. Kathy Wesserling says:

    Member of both Better Photo and of Digital Image Cafe. The former does not award prizes, and the winners are often "regulars" - mainly, because those people are outstanding photographers. Rarely, does a substandard photo win. Good place to view all entries and learn what works and what doesn't (comparing similar images is a great learning tool.) Lots of advertising for courses, but not necessary to take. $49/year.

    The latter has a great critique corner and wonderful prizes for Photo of the Month (8 categories) and Photo of the Year (8 cats, also.) Like the other site, many of the same photographers win consistently, but so do new members. Basically, blind judging by volunteer panel; Monthly (from all the POTDs) is judged by an outside Pro.$30/year.

    Cream rises to the top, period. Unless, it's a popularity vote site - even with 'blind' entries, members start recognizing styles and will vote for friends.

    If you're only looking for big money/prizes, go ahead and enter contests (from Nat.Geo, Outdoor Photog, etc.) You'll really learn what makes a great photograph; and your chance of winning is minute.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    This site http://www.boulevardofphotographers.com is a scam. I entered my photo in it and a few weeks later they said I had been chosen by a select reviewer to enter this book. The book is 69.00 plus shipping then you can pay even more if you want a plaque with your name, photo, and the contest. Its best of 2010 photography. I got so excited felt special. Then I started thinking...shouldnt they be paying me????? I sent them an email asking this. I didnt tell them its okay to publish it. I am going to reply to them say it isnt okay and take myself off the mailing list. Do not fall for this scam either. Thankyou for this site for giving me a heads up on photographers. It sounded just like this scam.

  7. Crystal says:

    Me too, they wanted me to pay for air fare and accomodations to attend the award ceremony too, glad I didn't fall for it!

  8. Lea Foster says:

    I don't consider Photographer's Forum a scam--around half of the entries are finalists with only a hundred or so that go on to actually be considered honorable mentions or higher. The finalists do get printed in the book and the book is a nice one--hard cover--you do need to pay for it--they do not pressure you into buying the book. They also award a very nice 5x7 certificate to each finalist. Considering the top prizes are sponsored by Canon, Nikon or Sigma--I don't think these companies would be sponsors if this were a scam.
    I have entered the past two years and have been a finalist and yes, I have purchased the book--but with my own free will. I hope this helps.

  9. Wiko says:

    I sent my photo to the Serbin Communication (Photographer's FORUM) 2010 Annual Spring Photo competition. Today I received a letter stating that my photo has been chosen as Finalist and will printed on their Best of Photography 2010 book. But in order to get the book, I must pay USD 55. Is this a scam? Appreciate your reply and advice. Thank you.

  10. thrasher4 says:

    I didn't get an email saying that I won but I got one saying my photo will be published. Don't know if the contest is real or not.

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