Photography contests with big sponsors, celebrity judges and attractive prizes may sound good, but beware the fine print. Theses contests are often nothing more than an easy way for the sponsoring companies to raise a lot of money and gain rights to your work for free.

At $20 a photo, the entry fees for only 1,500 images would be $30,000 – a profit margin that exceeds your average lottery ticket with far less return the winner even after any expenses are deducted. Speaking of expenses, it gets worse.

These contests often contain small print that gives the sponsoring company rights to perpetually publish, modify and even sell your work as their own without compensation or consent. Licensing fees for this type of use would normally cost a corporation thousands of dollars per image. Photographers beware.

  1. And by entering some contests, you agree that upon request, you are to provide model releases for every identifiable person within the said photographs.