The number of photography related competitions have increased in recent years. This is in addition to the photo clubs running their usual competitions, the idea seemed to have spread widely. I will focus on one with which I have had a first-hand experience.
Worldwide Photography Gala Awards seems to run several competitions at any given time with different focus. It is a nice idea, it seems to stimulate photographers to focus on the competition theme, until the next one comes along. I submitted two photographs to their “Portraits & People Second Edition” contest last year and one of them moved up to the final round. At the end of the contest, they announced that “8420 images were received from 70 countries, 628 images passed the first screening and were entered into the second screening. 274 images of 212 artists were selected in the second screening to be featured in the Book Portraits and People 2011.” My entry was one of those that would be included in the book to be published according to their announcement on July 3, 2011. I was very pleased and wrote a post to share the news with friends and family.
I waited for them to request high resolution images and have written to them for more information with no response. On August 26, 2011 I wrote again and asked why I had not received any response to my inquiries. No response again. On September 15, 2011 I informed them that although I was still receiving mail at it, my old e-mail address needed to be updated. Finally, a message was sent out to the “accepted” entry owners asking for a file suitable for printing with details; it was October 6, 2011. On the same day I provided the needed file and we exchanged a series of e-mails. The person writing was apologetic on several accounts, so we moved on. You can read the full message thread if you like.
On December 13, 2011 I inquired whether the book would be ready for Christmas so that I could give it as a gift. The response was positive, “The book will be ready for preview and purchase online this Thursday, which enough time to be delivered before Holidays. We will keep you posted” the message said. Well, on December 29, 2011 I said in my message “Obviously we missed Christmas. This has been an amazingly long process. I have published photo books and magazines before, I know it takes time. But this publication is turning into a monumental time sink for someone.” No response!
Since then I wrote multiple messages, on January 22, 2012, February 9, 2012, March 9, 2012. The Worldwide Photography Gala Awards did not even have the courtesy to reply to my messages. I wonder why? Why do these organizations run a flurry of these contests, promise a publication by a certain date, collect submission fees from the qualified entries, and become totally deaf-mute when a participant requests information. This was a contract, I submitted my work, paid for the submission as requested. In return the Worldwide Gala Awards promised to evaluate the submissions and select the finalists to be included in the book and publish it by a specified date. They failed to fulfill their promise, they ignored my inquiries (possibly others), and they continue running more of these contests.
Why am I writing this post? Just to let the world know about the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards and their practices. Maybe they promised too much. Maybe they are overwhelmed by work. Maybe the book will still materialize. But, maybe none of these explanations is true. If this post reaches the people behind the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards, they may realize that they did not do the right thing at least in this contest. I am not sure what they can do to gain my confidence again; probably nothing. If you read this post and you are planning on submitting work, you may want to think twice. Unless, of course, you will be satisfied with their partial fulfillment of their end of the bargain.
I hope that this post reaches the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards and other participants in the contest. They need to know that at least one participant has not been happy with the way they have handled this contest, maybe others as well. Feel free to write a comment and share your experience. I will approve any comment that adheres to the tenor of a civil conversation.
I am not disappointed that I paid them $15 for the entry that moved up to be reviewed with the other submissions. The part that disappoints me the most is the trust busting behavior manifest by Worldwide Photography Gala Awards. Shame!