From advice on what to submit to how it felt to be involved in the Unsplash Awards, last year’s finalists share their thoughts.

Alex Begin
Oct 8 · 10 min read

The third edition of the Unsplash Awards are finally here — celebrating the people powering the open photography movement. Here, last year’s finalists share their advice on submitting your work to the Unsplash Awards, as well as how it felt to be recognized last year.

The idea behind the Unsplash Awards was simple: the month-long celebration was created to thank our growing community of contributors who make Unsplash what it is today. Which means that whether you’re a total pro, a hobbyist, or you’ve never tried uploading a photo to Unsplash — we invite everyone to submit to the Awards and give it a go! We’re excited to celebrate each and every submission we receive, and recognize the amazing contributors in our community.

To give you a little extra inspiration before you go on and submit to this year’s Awards, we asked last year’s finalists to share their tips with you first.

Visit Adrien Olichon’s Unsplash profile here.

Adrien Olichon

What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for someone contributing to the Unsplash Awards for the first time?

Select the pictures you like the most, the pictures you have taken with your heart. If there is a story behind it, the pictures will speak for itself.

How did it feel to be celebrated in the Unsplash Awards last year as the select for the Interiors & Architecture category?

It was fabulous, being featured in the Unsplash Awards was my biggest goal last year. And achieving it gave me a lot of confidence and a motivation to create more and more.

Why did you decide to submit to the Unsplash Awards in 2018?

I submitted to the Unsplash Award to see if my pictures were unique. Photography is something I do for myself, so I wanted to check If I had a hidden special skill.

Visit Mat Reding’s Unsplash profile here.

Mat Reding

What’s the best piece of advice you would have for someone contributing to the Unsplash awards for the first time?

I would advise trying, just try! Don’t be afraid to contribute to the Unsplash Awards. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying. Besides, it is a lovely experience where your work can be seen by a devoted community passionate about photography.

How did it feel to be celebrated in the Unsplash awards last year as the select for the Earth category?

At first, I did not understand what was happening. I assumed that there had been a mistake with the email. But after some time I realized that all of this was real and I felt very proud of myself, especially as my photograph had been chosen in the earth category, which has a special place in my heart.

Why did you decide to submit to the Unsplash awards in 2018?

I decided to submit my photograph to the Unsplash Awards in 2018 for many reasons, the first one is to seize the opportunity to gain visibility. Then I wanted to show that it was possible to be a part of the « Big league » for an amateur using amateur material. Also, I hoped to deliver a message in showing what photography means to me, the perception and the vision I have of it, to raise awareness of the beauty of our natural surroundings and the importance of preserving our earth.

Visit elCarito’s Unsplash profile here.

elCarito

What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for someone contributing to the Unsplash Awards for the first time?

Just take the same pictures the others take, but with a different point of view. That’s where the real challenge of contributing lies.

How did it feel to be celebrated in the Unsplash Awards last year as the select for the Entrepreneur award?

Of course, it was a great way to be recognized and it has helped push me deeper into the world of photography. Since I was nominated, I keep thinking about new photos I can take or even where to travel next, since taking photos is my new favourite excuse to travel! It’s such a pleasure to see so many different places, cultures, and people through my camera. And taking photos has helped me share my own personal point of view of all the places I go to.

Why did you decide to submit to the Unsplash Awards in 2018?

I really love photography and I enjoy learning about taking pictures. I had a bunch of pictures on my computer waiting to be used, which is why I decided to start sharing them on Unsplash. A year later, I decided to submit some of those pictures to the Unsplash Awards because although I am not a professional photographer, I thought I had original stuff to share with the community. And you know, sharing is caring. It has helped me learn about different ways of taking pictures and I have found many profiles of photographers that have very different points of view. It is an ideal breeding ground to keep rockin´ with my camera around the world.

Visit Jeremy Bishop’s Unsplash profile here.

Jeremy Bishop

What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for someone contributing to the Unsplash Awards for the first time?

First I would say strive for something different because different always stands out. Secondly, stick to your style. If you are able to mix your photography style with creativity and something different, you’ll be stoked on the results.

How did it feel to be celebrated in the Unsplash Awards last year as the select for the Experimental award?

I am always stoked on how friendly and community-driven the Unsplash team was celebrating everyone. I really enjoy seeing my work printed in their books they send out to everyone.

Why did you decide to submit to the Unsplash Awards in 2018?

In 2018 I was stoked on the work I was doing that year and I thought people would really enjoy and stop when they saw a few stills I created. And secondly, I know a lot of people get great use out of my work and I really enjoy seeing that.

Visit Vince Fleming’s Unsplash profile here.

Vince Fleming

What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for someone contributing to the Unsplash Awards for the first time?

Think about what the category means, and how the ideas of the category is intended to make people feel, and then send your best image that encapsulates that feeling.

How did it feel to be celebrated in the Unsplash Awards last year as the select for the People & Diversity award?

It was so honoring, seeing my work next to all these people I respect so much, and even having people at work tell me they saw my picture on the awards page made it feel so real. I didn’t realize how many people I knew in real life that were also involved in the Unsplash community until people complimented me on my award! Such an amazing experience.

Why did you decide to submit to the Unsplash Awards in 2018?

I honestly didn’t think I would win at all. I thought, why not? Which is why I was so shocked when I was chosen!

Visit Ryoji Iwata’s Unsplash profile here.

Ryoji Iwata

What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for someone contributing to the Unsplash Awards for the first time?

Think about what would make a strong point of view within your photography, as well as what other people want to see from your work.

How did it feel to be celebrated in the Unsplash Awards last year as the select for the Street Photography award?

I was so honoured to be selected for the finalist of two categories and celebrated in the Unsplash Awards. Especially since this was my first entry in the Unsplash Awards.

Why did you decide to submit to the Unsplash Awards in 2018?

I decided to submit to the Unsplash Awards to test my photography abilities. I thought If I was selected for the awards, I would have more confidence in my photography.

Visit Aaron Burden’s Unsplash profile here.

Aaron Burden

What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for someone contributing to the Unsplash Awards for the first time?

The Unsplash Awards is a unique opportunity to share your talent with the community and the world. There are a lot of talented individuals that contribute. But I would say that one of the reasons to contribute is to stretch yourself. There are multiple categories to participate in. Be inspired and inspire others.

How did it feel to be celebrated in the Unsplash Awards as one of the recipients of the Community Award?

It was surprising! I won the Unsplash Community Award which is nominated by the community. As a hobbyist photographer, I was blown away by the graciousness of the community, because I feel that there are so many other more talented people on Unsplash. Also, the award was a legit award. I received an actual etched glass award. I’m glad to be part of the community.

Why did you decide to submit to the Unsplash Awards in 2018?

Honestly, I submit to the Unsplash Awards, because there is nothing to lose. Whether I win or lose, it challenged me to capture something fresh, and I enjoy that challenge.

Visit Matt Seymour’s Unsplash profile here.

Matt Seymour

What’s the best piece of advice you’d have for someone contributing to the Unsplash Awards for the first time?

If you’re unsure if your photos are good enough, just go for it! Photography is subjective, and every photo has something unique about it. I’m not confident about my photos really, but when I hit some of the milestones I do on Unsplash you have to sit back and accept that maybe people actually like your work! So go ahead and enter the awards, because you might just have that winning photo.

How did it feel to be celebrated in the Unsplash Awards last year as one of the recipients of the Community Award?

It was such a surprise. I didn’t even know I was up for an award. I actually found out I won the community award through Twitter as a fellow Unsplash user happened to mention me in a Tweet congratulating me. All I had done in 2018 was tell people when their photos were, and somehow I got an award for it! Unbelievable really. The Unsplash community really is like that though. It’s nice to be nice, and the whole community support one another.

Why did you decide to submit to the Unsplash Awards in 2018?

Like I said before, even if you’re confident you’re the best, it’s a privilege to have your photos judged by your peers. So give it a go. I didn’t actually get shortlisted for any of my photos but won the community award, but I did submit some photos. To be part of this special community is what made me want to submit a photo, and I’m so glad I did. And I’ll be doing the same this year!

Visit Susan Wilkinson’s collection’s here.

Susan Wilkinson

I enter the Unsplash community not as a photographer, but as a grateful photography-lover and collector. I’m still surprised I was selected as an award winner because creating collections of images that move me is so rewarding on its own. Photographers feed my soul with their art and the generosity of the incredible Unsplash community has improved my own creative work in ways I can’t even measure.

Start submitting to the Unsplash Awards


Ready to submit to the Unsplash Awards? It’s easy — simply visit awards.unsplash.com to enter.

Unsplash Blog

Behind the scenes building the open photography movement at Unsplash.

Alex Begin

Written by

Community at Unsplash

Unsplash Blog

Behind the scenes building the open photography movement at Unsplash.

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