Interview with Marcin Giba About his Experience of Photo Awards

As the first episode of our new blog series which called “Award-winning Photographers”, we had the chance to ask Marcin Giba about his experience of photo awards.

Marcin Giba is a multi-time award-winning photographer specialized to drone photography.

Why do you find that important to participate in a photo award?

In my opinion, participation in photo contests is important for several reasons. It is always worth being assessed by others. In the case of competitions, photos are usually judged by professionals or people who have already gained recognition and position. They are often gallery curators, festival directors or people who have a significant influence on the way contemporary photography looks. This is a very important aspect because in the age of social media we are judged by other users who are not always able to assess our work well. Another value for taking part in photo contests is the opportunity to present your works to a wide audience. And of course, the prizes also motivate you to take part in the competition.


How do you decide which of your work will be submitted?

In this situation, I always send a work that is in line with the topic of the competition. Most of the competitions have thematic categories, so the task is made easier. Often, there are also descriptions for individual categories that clearly explain what photos the jury expects. Sometimes I also watch works awarded in previous editions to see more or less what aesthetics of the works are more appreciated in a given competition.


Which awards do you prefer to participate?

In the ones that have the most awards J Seriously, there are usually several possible awards. These financial awards are pleasing, but the echo of a given competition is equally important. It is definitely worth taking part in prestigious competitions that end with an exhibition and give a lot of promotion around the world.


Do you think photo descriptions are important part of a submission or do you let your images talk for themselves? If you think description is important then what are your main guidelines?

Photography is an art of painting, so it should speak for itself. On the other hand, I treat the description as a supplement to something that cannot be seen at first glance. In the case of my, often abstract, drone photos, the description explains what the image shows. However, there are works that even require description. To sum up  I am of the opinion that the picture should always come first and the description is only an addition.


By winning a price, is your work get more exposed?

Yes, that’s exactly what happens. Anyway, I consider it to be one of the main advantages of photography competitions. My works can be displayed  all over the world at the same time.I would never have thought that the photo I took in my small town, Rybnik in the south of Poland, would be hanging at an exhibition in Sydney, Moscow or London. Besides, my photos, due to winning a competition, appeared in many articles and magazines around the world.


Do you have expectations when you enter an award?

Whenever I enter the competition, I hope that my works will be appreciated by the jury. But I am also aware that the results of the  competition depend on  the tastes of jury members. What`s more it is also a confrontation with other, usually great photos. It is a bit of a sports aspect. When you start in a competition, you want to win.

Do you make research of the Jury before you enter an award?

Yes, I always do. It is very important who is a member of the jury and who will evaluate your work. I appreciate when the jury includes recognized photographers or curators of famous galleries. Often it was a motivation for me to take part in a given competition. It also happened to me that I didn’t take part because of the jury.

How did you feel about your first success?

This question is quite historical for me, because I have been associated with prizes since I was a child. Now I am successful with my drone photos, but 15 years ago I won awards for the creative photography I was doing at the time. However, the feeling is always the same and it can be addictive. It always gives you wings and motivates you to continue working.

Would you recommend to young photographers to try one of the competitions?

Absolutely. I can recommend several competitions which are worth attending . One of them is the Sony World Photography Awards. This is the competition that gave me the most in a promotional sense, even though I was only on the final shortlist.Besides, it is free in the Open section. I also recommend Fine Art Photography Awards, Siena International Photo Awards or Urban Photo Awards.



When you make a submission do you find sometimes hard to define the category you would like to compete in?

I’ve never had a problem with that. Often, in addition to the name of the category in which you want to submit your photo, there is an explanation, i.e. a description of what photos the jury expects. It is also worth seeing the galleries of the awarded photos from previous editions of a given competition to see more or less what the aesthetics of the works are appreciated. It is very important to submit a photo in the right category, because it may happen that our great work is missed by such a mistake.


This award season is unfortunately formed by COVID very significantly. Many awards made it clear that they want to spend some of their submission incomes this year to charity. What is your opinion about it?

Today we are all affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. I believe that any initiative that can help in the fight against the epidemic is important and I am always eager to take part in it. I support this idea  that a portion of the reporting proceeds go to charity.


Marcin Giba


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