O.K., a little bit of shameless self promotion: I have a new book out called Winning Digital Photo Contests (Lark Books) and online stores (Barnes & Noble and Amazon among others) just began shipping it yesterday.
If you've ever wanted to win a photo contest or would just like to see some of the amazing photos that have won them, you'll love this book. The entire book is illustrated by photos--almost all of them shot by amateur photographers--that have won photo contests. The photographs will blow you away; their quality, diversity and sheer beauty is just incredible. And you'll not only read my thoughts on the photos and suggestions for how to take them, but you'll read comments from the photographers on how they made the pictures, why they chose that particular subject and why they shot the photo at that particular moment. Also, the meta data (exposure, camera, lens, etc.) is included for the vast majority of shots.
There are also profiles of two amateur shooters that have won enormous numbers of photo contests: Heather McFarland and Robert Ganz. When you read their stories and see their photos you will just be in awe. Honestly, their stories will inspire you. There is also an interview that I did with National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson--who has judged hundreds of photo contests--about what it takes to catch the eye of a contest judge.
I had the idea for the book about a year ago but I when I approached the publisher I told them that the only way the book would succeed would be if we could use contest-winning photos for the majority of the illustrations. Amazingly, they agreed (and probably lived to regret the logistical nightmare that decision unleashed!). We looked at thousands of winning photos from around the world, narrowed them down to the top 100+ photos and then contacted and interviewed all of the photographers. It was a grueling process at times, but it was also a lot of fun. In fact, as much as I like seeing my own photos illustrating my books, I couldn't have had more fun or been more excited about choosing the photographs for this book.
You'll also find a lot of information about how to find contests, what sorts of images get judges' attention and just a lot of good picture-taking advice. Entering contests is a great way to motivate yourself to shoot new pictures, it's an excellent way to share you photos with a worldwide audience and, of course, you could win some really cool prizes--trips, cameras, workshops, etc. So don't hide your photos in your hard drive, show the world! And we'll be updating the book regularly, so if you do win, let me know and we'll consider them for the next edition.