Before participating in any contest please check who the judges are and their gallery...if they are popular and have a shitty gallery with hundreds of favs from people they know then skip the contest. They socialize very much and not every body can be like that. We have selected friends and eye for beauty, we can't expect the same from everyone.
You even notice they got Deviant art award (DD)s. They are the same. Majority of them doesn't have any artistic value. I even saw a deviation which isn't cut properly and pasted with 200 favs in an hour. Before going step further an artist must at least know that the cut and paste must fit in. The choice of their colors will hurt your eyes. Nothing in the image blends one with another! So please don't disheartened when you don't win and I even was ashamed once when my work won among other shit load of works. I thought this is not real victory. NO POLITICAL CORRESTNESS SHOULD BE EXPECTED WHEN IT COMES TO ART. NO SUGAR COATING FOR ANYONE'S FEELINGS. THIS IS NOT GAME, IT IS CRUSHING A TALENTED WITH A CUNNING BRAIN. I have to write this because last night a friend was very upset that they have lost and they are brilliant. Yes, it happens very often. Wait for recognition and keep working, or just please yourself than expecting someone's acceptance. You serenity will win someday real big and it will keep you real.
I just commented on an BW-photo where a woman is naked. I have many nude art if you search through my gallery and I'm willing to do more. But every morning when we wake up we gotta debate on what is nudity and what is being perverse. Some don't want to caught up in arguments. So, they put a blind eye and go on with their day.
For a photomanipulation many times artist don't plan. while idly browsing around they come across a photo, sparks interest and there happens a great start. They don't know how many days it takes and how many hours in a day in could take and how far it can take but every second is worth in the end. That is true spirit. It's not surprise if an image inspires author to write a great story and the viewer who may not be a serious reader yet he can
read the picture.
Be it a photography, traditional art, digital art or a photomanipulation, an image tells a story or it should tell a story. Even for a beginner the colors may not blend and features may need lot work, yet, the viewer can imagine what the artist is trying to tell in their art.
I used to discuss with friends who left the DA even before eclipse, many told me the same thing that their zeal died watching all the filth around in this site. They moved onto other options. Classic lovers have become rare.