How the Photography Establishment is biased against Digital Artists

One of the things I want to do to further my growth as a photographer and artist is enter my work in competitions.   Being compared with your peers and gaining valuable feedback is something that could be a useful experience.

Except if you are a digital artist you are almost automatically disqualified from entering any artistic work.  Many of the photography competitions have no allowance for any creative work at all.  Of the few that do, the ones I have seen have a clause in the T&C which excludes digital artists  – “All elements of an image must be the original work of the artist”.

So that means I cannot use any textures, overlays or artistic elements that I may have legally purchased and have copyright to use.


I assume it is for copyright reasons. If I am wrong, I look forward to being enlightened – but if I am correct, as a reason for exclusion of digital artists, it is not only lazy, its verging on fraudulent.

“What grounds do you have for making this outlandish accusation?”  I hear you say!

Well if I was entering an image into a photography competition, I have to be able to provide a copy of the RAW image file on request, so they can compare it to the entered one and see if it meets their terms and conditions.  If you take photos of people you have to have a model release (and I do for the first image posted)

Nothing in the rules of any competition I have looked at the fine print for has ever stated the following:

  • You don’t have to prove *you* took the actual image – you just have to provide the original RAW file
  • That you must OWN the camera gear that you are using (I am taking it as a given that building your own camera is a bridge too far here)
  • Renting or borrowing camera equipment does not need to be disclosed
  • Use of presets or actions purchased from someone else (or found for free) does not need to be disclosed (if that level of editing is allowed)


I am a photographer and digital artist – not a texture artist.  I neither have the time or skill to make my own textures.  Similarly, photographers have access to acquire Lightroom Presets and PS Actions.  They are using someone else’s knowledge and skill to press one button and edit their image – they didn’t *do* everything to that image – they incorporated someone else’s work to generate the final outcome.

How is that different to purchasing a texture or overlay and doing the same thing?

If I can provide proof of purchase and copyright approval from the artist I acquired elements from, why should I not be allowed to enter an image that has my work and purchased elements in it?

I would be delighted to hear from anyone who does enter into digital art competitions – where you find them and do they have more latitude for use of creative elements?

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About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in For Beginners, LR & Photoshop and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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