Having already judged 12 photography competitions, I know that every year thousands upon thousands of avid photographers enter various digital photography contests across the globe. While each of these contests may vary in theme, number of applicants and popularity, they all have one underlying characteristic in common, and that is that each of them will have their winners and their losers. There are a number of ways you can increase your chances of taking home first prize such as ensuring you thoroughly read through the rules of the competition, practicing and improving your technical ability, researching past winners and adding your own unique personality and charisma to your photos. This article will explore a few of the most effective ways you can increase your potential of winning just about any digital photography contest.You’ll find that each digital photography competition has it’s own set of terms and conditions that applicants must abide by. A good use of a contestants time is to thoroughly read through the rules and regulations of the contest before submitting their entry, you might be surprised by some of the terms that are imposed. For example, I once entered a competition in Europe whereby only one photo was allowed per contestant. Had I not have known this, I could have wasted a large amount of my time taking and entering other photos, when that time could have been valuably spent making my one entry as technically fantastic as possible!As you may know, judges place great value on technical ability and any kind of mediocrity may very well get your shot eliminated in the very early stages of the contest. Sharpness is one of the most important technical elements to think about, your photo should be in focus and perfectly sharp, if it’s even slightly blurry – take another one. Exposure is the other most important technical detail to consider and one you should place great emphasis on. Your captured image should show colors in perfect clarity, if it doesn’t – try taking another one. You have to strive for the very best you possibly can and if you find yourself running out of ideas, you can always try looking at past winners entries as a good form of inspiration.Although the judges may vary from year to year, the fact holds true that a photograph that wins a contest out of hundreds, if not thousands of entries is usually a pretty good one. This is why researching the previous years winning entry can be a valuable and effective way of stimulating some good ideas. This does NOT mean completely copying the winning photo from four or five years ago in the hope that the judges may have forgotten about it. Judges of photo competitions are usually very passionate about photography and will more than likely spot a plagiarised entry from a mile off. A good way to come up with a good photo from looking at past winners is to mimic something subtle you like about the photo whilst adding your own personality to the image, making it your own.Standing out from a crowd of lots of similar entries may seem difficult, but it is very much a requirement if you wish to win any digital photography contest. Technically brilliant photos that lack emotion, personality and a ‘soul’ will always end up at the bottom of the pile, whereas photos that might not technically be as good, but tell a story and connect with the viewer, these are the photos that judges are always on the look-out for.As you can probably tell by now there are many different aspects that go into taking and creating a contest-winning photograph, but by following the above advice you will have a strong advantage over the majority of the other applicants mediocre and plain entries and in no time you should be rolling in the glory of winning your first digital photography contest.