In March 2009 we surveyed past entrants of the Museum’s annual photography competition Up Close and Spineless. The competition, which focuses on invertebrates and was launched in 2002 with 158 entries, has grown in popularity to attract over 500 entries in 2008. The survey was cond

Participants in the survey were largely Australian residents (98%) with the vast majority living in NSW (64%). They were mostly university educated and represented a range of ages from under 25 to 55 and up with the greatest number (49%) concentrated in the 35-55 age group. There was an equal mix of female and male respondents.

Most of the respondents had entered this competition once (70%) and had entered a variety of other photography competitions. Those most commonly entered were local events such as agricultural shows, local council competitions, and those run by camera/photography clubs. Fourteen percent of respondents also reported entering international competitions such as ANZANG and Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The strongest motivation stated for entering Up Close and Spineless was the subject matter of the competition (39%) followed by a love of photography (18%).

59% of respondents indicated a strong interest in joining an online community of others who entered and an eagerness to share photographs with a wider audience.

The two aspects of the competition which are valued most highly by respondents were:

  • Recognition of photography skills
  • Having photographs on display at the Australian Museum

54% of respondents had been to the Museum to see the photographs on display while 88% reported they would if their photograph was displayed.

Most entrants heard about the competition from the Museum’s website, saw our display here at the Museum, or through word of mouth.

In summary Up Close and Spineless is valued by both visitors to the Museum and entrants. It is valued for its subject matter and the opportunity it offers for sharing photographs and recognising excellence. Our new website now offers greater opportunities to build a community of interest, increase participation and simplify the entry procedures. 

Go here to see what the photographers said about their experiences