Why do you think it’s usually the “usual suspects” that win those contests?
First of all, the usual suspects who win contests are great photographers.
Second, some have a formula for success.
They know that the “different” or unique photos are going to win.
Furthermore, some photographers duplicate what has won in past contests and execute it on their assignments.
I knew one photographer who turned in the same type of photo, shot in two consecutive months and he won in both months.
What does that tell you?
First of all, there is a strategy. Second, you have to be well-versed in what a contest-winning photograph is, so you can duplicate it in your own way.
Are they so dominant or do you think there are other reasons?
First of all, they have talent; hands down, but in addition to talent, they know what wins contests.
They work hard to come back with a contest winner.
When a photographer consistently wins contests, they usually get better assignments because the bosses know that they will come back with good, award-winning photos.
Some photographers that I know complain that all of the good assignments go to other photographers.
They may have a point, but I tell them, “If you’re not getting the good assignments, come up with some of your own.”
I look for a topic that I can spend some time with.
When the timing is right, I get a reporter on board who is equally passionate about the same story.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
My photos are usually better when I come up with my own assignments.
Next: Advice for budding photojournalists.