As a budding photographer or photography student it is not easy to get your name out there. The competition is tough and having an amazing portfolio is not necessarily enough. Networking and gaining contacts are two very useful ways to work your way up the photography ladder. Also, winning a few awards cannot do any harm. Not only will competitions push you to take better photographs than you would otherwise, but they will also help you learn and grow as you compare your work with those that won, allowing you to see where you went wrong. Of course, if you win the competition that can only mean good things for your career.

Here are a couple of our favorite photographic competitions and challenges in Australia:

The Sydney Morning Herald Photos 1440 Exhibition

This challenge remains true to photojournalism on the ground in Sydney as the briefs are modelled on actual assignments given to photographers working on the paper. Entrants then get six weeks to submit their photographs. The awards included $5 500 worth of photographic equipment from Canon, as well as internships with Herald photographers for the runners up. This challenge runs from June to July.

Gizmodo Australia Shooting Challenge

This weekly challenge is run by Gizmodo and takes place from about June to about August. Entrants can submit photographs every week, and every week has a different theme. Some of the more interesting themes in this year’s competition have been: ‘winter’, ‘liquid’ and ‘depth of field’. The winners are chosen based on the number of votes their photograph receives and the prize is an Olympus OM-D EM 5 Camera, valued at $1 499.

Photo Review Competitions

This photography website and magazine hosts regular small competitions for photographers. According to the website, there have been 50 Photo Review competitions so far, with themes like ‘cast a giant shadow’, ‘summer postcard’ and ‘habitat.’ The prizes are modest, but pictures go up onto the website and go a long way toward building photographer’s credibility. Some of the prizes awarded in the past have been a photo bag and a 250 GB portable storage device.

The Annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.

If you manage to win the National Geographic Contest, we do not quite want to say all your worries are over, but we may leave it hanging in the air. As the name suggests, this is an annual contest, and the winners for 2012 will be announced in August. There were four categories in this year’s competition: travel portraits, outdoor scenes, sense of place and spontaneous moments. The prizes are a National Geographic Galapagos Photography Expedition, a photography workshop in Santa Fe, a National Geographic travel seminar, and, finally, gift certificates for B&H Photo to the value of $200.00. This is an annual competition well worth putting a lot of time and effort into, as the rewards a great.

About the author: This guest post was written by Natalie Simon. Natalie writes on behalf of Now Learning, an online education portal that promotes higher education opportunities in Australia, including photography courses.