How to Get Your Photo in Exposed DC

Crowd at DCist Exposed
Opening night crowd at the 2013 Exposed show at Long View Gallery, Washington, DC.

For the love of photography, what is the Exposed DC Photo Contest?

The annual Exposed show is a celebration of the best in local photography in Washington, DC. Now in its eighth year (it used to be known as DCist Exposed), Exposed DC seeks images of the people and places, the art and music and food and sports, and the culture and nostalgia of this incredible town we live in. This is DC beyond the monuments, the real city that we live in and experience.

And it’s a show that’s open to anyone with a camera (or iPhone). You don’t need a a $2000 lens or the ability to talk f-stops. All you need is the ability to create a compelling image. The openness of Exposed DC is what makes the contest unique.

Exposed DC picks the best images to hang on the walls in the recently-expanded Long View Gallery in Mount Vernon Square. And there’s a big party where you can meet tons of local photographers while hundreds of people admire your work.

What you need to know:

Deadline: January 8, 2014
What to Submit: Three photos of DC.
Cost: $10

media storm
Media Storm – selected for 2012 Exposed. This was during the post-earthquake inspection of the Washington Monument.

My photos have been selected for Exposed twice – in 2007 and 2012.¬† I’ve had drinks with the Exposed judges (not that difficult to do with this boozy bunch) and talked to winning photographers.

Here are my tips for getting your work into the Exposed DC Photo Contest.

1. Read the Rules. Having been a judge for other kinds of contests, it amazes me that people submit content without reading the rules. Read the rules. They not only spell out the procedures you need to follow, but also offer helpful hints on what judges are looking for – and not looking for. For example, note the prohibition against “gratuitous use of HDR.” What is gratuitous HDR? Well, if you can tell it’s HDR, then it’s gratuitous.

2. Think DC. This is a DC contest  run by people who live and work in DC which culminates in a gallery showing in DC. It is not Exposed Baltimore or Exposed NYC, which are both lovely places but not the setting for this contest. Submit photos from the metro DC area, including the VA and MD suburbs.

3. Look at Past Winners. What gets selected for Exposed DC? Lots of gritty pictures of urban life. What doesn’t get selected? Tourist shots of monuments. Not only does looking at past winners provide valuable advice for getting into Exposed DC, they’re a wealth of creative ideas to consider. Look through the photos to find new places to shoot, different techniques and unusual perspectives.

Rose runs
Rose Runs – selected for the 2007 Exposed. I liked the contrast between Rose and the graffiti-covered wall.

4. Trust Your Gut. Put yourself in the position of the judges for a moment. They look through hundreds of photos to select 40 or so for Long View Gallery. What’s going to pop out to them? Well, what pops out to you? What are the photos that you come back to time and time again? They’re the ones you should submit.

5. Join the community. The best part of Exposed DC has been the relationships I’ve made through the contest. I always go to the opening night party. The photographers are all really interesting, generous people. While there are some professionals who shoot full-time, the majority of contest winners are ordinary people with a love of photography. Follow Exposed DC to become a part of this community.

Find three photos, scrape together $10 and submit to Exposed DC! It’s an opportunity to see your work hanging in a gallery and become part of a local, creative event.


Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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