Context: Submissions, what are they?

As I write out my dissemination folder I realise how much of my dissemination will be counted as submissions to contests/ awards/ features etc. This is something I have extensively questioned the reason for in the past few years. I feel like there is a lot to be assessed about the contemporary photographic community and how it works but I do not entirely share the negative opinion a lot have on the lack of work available for a photographers. There could be a number of reasons for the decreasing opportunities in a strictly commercial sense, other mediums have taken roles such as videographers and social media within citizen journalism, the inherent journalistic value of photography has been questioned and thus is used in a different manner nowadays, commercially a small group of photographers could be carrying out most of the work, or just that there is a saturation of photographers at a period of time when the medium we work in is inherently important to understanding visual culture at large. 

Photography is being produced and consumed and therefore there must be bodies within our culture that deal with this. Often this responsibility is taken on by younger, passionate photographers/curators/editors through magazines, independent organisations, gallery spaces. This creates a new dynamic and increase in so called personal work to fill the spaces created by the various open calls. Terminology becomes a viable way to measure this change. I have seen numerous photographers’ portfolios or websites describe themselves as ‘moving into a more documentary style’ or something along those lines. These are often photographers who would have considered themselves photojournalists before. I feel this movement is twofold. It is because of the opportunities open to the so-called documentary photographer at the moment and also because there is an increased understanding of what photography means within our culture. I try and see this positively despite the underlying nature of an environment ruled by competitions. It has opened up the possibility of anyone entering many of the opportunities available, taking away an element of exclusivity. 

I believe these submissions are a good way of pushing your work out there but should not be the only method of disseminating work to the varying establishments and individuals that should see them. This is why I try to maintain contact with the various individuals from the industry, especially those that I see eye to eye with.