Do It. And…Keep Doing It.

by Photo Life

© Alan McCord/The World We Live In V, Interconnections 1st Prize

Do It. And…Keep Doing It.

by Alan McCord

The World We Live In VI Interconnections 1st Prize Winner

My advice to others thinking about entering The World We Live In photo competition would be “do it.” And, if you do not get recognition, keep doing it. The image of mine that was included this year was one that I not only went back and re-shot when I thought the lighting/weather conditions would be more favorable but also a submission that came on the heels of many years’ worth of submissions that received nothing as far as formal recognition goes. Stephen King, one of the most prolific fiction writers of our time, once said, “Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.”

While “failure” is a harsh word as an alignment here (I did get an image that I liked from that first shoot), agree up front that if your submissions go unrecognized, you will not become less optimistic about those endeavours. Recognition in a big photo competition like Photo Life’s The World We Live In has undertones, for some, of winning a lottery—in the end, there are many fabulous images submitted, and to have yours chosen does make me you feel fortunate. But I think it is important to not look at it in that way.

Try not to think of the World We Live In as a photo competition as such but as a large call for submissions for a visual narrative that Photo Life does annually to depict the planet. Be empathetic toward editors and the competition judges. Recognize that space is limited and only so many images can be used to convey the story of our world in any given year. If I were a judge or editor, what twenty or so images would I choose to convey that story, this year? And the “this year” part is important to keep in mind. Taking the time to review and evaluate my own work with a critical eye has been an important part of the ongoing process of growth as a photographer. Annual events such as this one by Photo Life can provide a photographer with an opportunity to do just that—review, evaluate and grow.

Don’t let a lack of inclusion one year discourage you from submitting images to the call again. The world we live in is constantly changing. The magic in your eye might be something that resonates more in a subsequent year of the ever-changing essence of the planet.

My advice to those thinking of entering…be true to your eye, have the right mindset, and persevere.

For more information on how to enter this year’s contest, TWWLI VII, check out the contest information and guidelines at

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Jane Thomas October 14, 2017 - 1:07 am

What happens to the photos, once submitted? Will you allow them to be used by other sources? Sell them? Let them be used for free? I am sure a lot of potential submitters will be very concerned with these questions too and don’t submit for fear of what will be done with them.

Jenny Montgomery October 19, 2017 - 2:33 pm

Dear Jane Thomas,

You bring up an excellent question and issue. We do not share them with other sources ever, nor do we sell them or allow them to be used for free by others. We only use the winning photos in relationship to our The World We Live In photo contest (in announcing the winners and in promoting the contest, like with this post). Photographers keep their copyright, and we always credit the photographers. Please read our rules and regulations here:

We always encourage photographers to read the fine print before entering any photo contest, including ours! There are a lot of contests out there that use photo contests as a way to get a bank of images, and we don’t think that’s right. You can check out some of our past advice on this issue in the following posts, which has appeared in previous years on our blog:

Thanks for bringing up this important issue!


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