Participating in photography contests is a great way for photographers to get recognition and benchmark their work against peers from around the world. Whether you are a professional photographer, a student, or an amateur hobbyist, photography contests provide the perfect platform to hone your skills and evolve your expression.
There is a wide range of photography contests that are sure to inspire photographers around the world, regardless of age or skill level. Beyond the broad international photo contests, there are many niche photography contests ranging from undersea exploration to monochromatic themes to smartphone-centric snap fests; you will undoubtedly find something that speaks to your interests and creative viewpoint. While many of these are free to enter, some photography awards and contests can have entry fees.
Tip: Always study the history of the photo contest and the coverage it has received in the past years.
While participation can be its own reward, many photography competitions also offer substantial prizes in cash or kind, over and above the exposure that you gain if you were to win one of them.
With so many photography contests happening, choosing the ones worth your time and effort can be difficult. We have rounded up the best photography contests from across the world based on popularity, participation criteria, and prizes.
Here is our list of the best 15 photography contests that you should participate in:
- Sony World Photography Awards
- Istanbul Photo Awards
- RHS Photographic Competition
- All About Photo Awards
- ZEISS Photography Award
- CAP Prize
- The Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest
- BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition
- iPhone Photography Awards
- International Travel and Documentary Photography Competition
- Nikon International Small World Competition
- MonoVisions Photography Awards
- The Production Paradise Spotlight Awards for Photographic Excellence
- Monochrome Awards
- Chromatic Photography Awards
Sony World Photography Awards is the world's leading photography competition. Held by the World Photography Organisation, in association with Sony, it is one of the most coveted competitions in the global photography space. It was started with the mission to support photographers worldwide so that photographers of all ages and abilities can celebrate and show their work and be a part of the global voice for photography. Entries for the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are now open. The contest is divided into four competitions, listed below, with sub-divided categories that photographers can choose from, based on what suits them.
Professional Competition - Entry: Free. Ten diverse categories to enter, with a series of 5 to 10 images per category
Submission dates: January 14, 2022 at 13.00 GMT
Enter the Professional Competition
Open Competition - Entry: Free. Ten diverse categories to enter, by submitting single images taken in 2021
Submission dates: January 7, 2022, at 13.00 GMT
Enter the Open Competition
Youth Competition - Entry: Free. Open to all 12-19 year-olds submitting single images taken in 2021
Monthly competitions with a changing theme running from 1 June to 31 December 2021
Enter the Youth Competition
Student Competition - Entry: Free. Open to 18 to 30 year-olds undertaking a full-time photography prgramme
Submission dates: 30 November 2021 at 13.00 GMT
Enter the Student Competition
For the Sony World Photography Awards, Pixpa has partnered with World Photography Organization to celebrate the best imagery and photographers from all over the world.
The Anadolu Agency organizes the Istanbul Photo Awards. It is an international news photography contest that aims to develop the news photography area. This contest seeks to reward hard-working news photographers around the world and has become a widely known photography contest around the globe.
The categories in this free photo contest are Photo of the year, Single News, Story News, Single Sports, and Story Sports.
Entry Fee: Free
Prize: $8,000 for Photo of the Year and first prize in Single News Category. The first prize in other categories is $5000.
Submission Dates: November 1st- January 31st
Are you obsessed with taking snapshots of your garden? Enter this flower-photo-friendly contest, which includes categories for 11-17-year-olds and even kids under 11 years old. This photo competition is organized by the Royal Horticulture Society, which is targets the photographers, horticulturists, and garden lovers.
The categories for this nature photography contest are celebrating gardens, welcoming garden wildlife, abstract, urban gardening, etc.
Entry Fee: Free
Prize: Â£5,000 (approximately $6,345) for the RHS photo competition. The young winner of the RHS photo competition gets Â£750. There are other categories which have prizes from Â£150 to Â£500.
Submission Dates: Till 10am of 31 January, 2020. These dates may change each year.
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With no pre-defined theme, this photography contest offers freedom to submit your favorite photos or photo collages, and there are cash prizes for the first five winners. The winners' work will be shown in Dodho magazine, AAP magazine, Be- Art magazine, and other places.
A photographer can submit photos on any photography genre and subject. Also, the photographs taken in any mediums such as digital, analog, or any alternative process are encouraged to submit.
Entry Fee: $30 for three photos; $5 for every additional entry
Prize: The winners will receive $10,000 and press coverage in various photography magazines
Submission Dates: December 5, 2019 - January 31, 2020
The Zeiss Photography Award is organized with the partnership of Zeiss and the World Photography Organization, which is a global platform for photography activities. And together they to support inspiring photographers around the world. Winners will be invited to London in April to participate in the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition opening.
The photographers are invited to submit photos around a particular theme which is decided every year. The theme for 2020 is "Seeing Beyond- Discoveries." The photographer has to submit 5-10 images which have not been published before.
Entry Fee: Free
Prize: ZEISS lenses of your choice (worth 12,000 euros) and 3,000 euros to cover travel expenses among other benefits.
Submission Dates: Till 1300 hours, GMT of February 4, 2020.
CAP prize is an international photography competition for contemporary African photography which is held since 2012. Twenty-five photographers are shortlisted, and the CAP prize is awarded to five photographers. Submissions must consist of a sequence 10-25 photos taken in an African country or of the African diaspora.
Entry Fee: Free
Prize: International exposure at major global exhibitions such as IAF Basel, Lagos Photo, and more.
Submission Date: November 7th - February 7th
Open to young photojournalists ages 18-33, this photo contest from Russia honors the memory of Andrei Stenin, a photojournalist who died while on an assignment. This photo competition aims to be a platform through which talented photojournalists make a name for themselves. In 2019, the competition saw 6000 entries from 80 countries.
The categories in this competition are Top News, Sport, My Planet, and Portrait. There are also yearly additions to the categories.
Entry Fee: Free
Prize: 700,000 rubles (equal to $12,383)
Submission Dates: December 22nd- February 29th
The BigPicture photography competition aims to showcase the rich diversity of life on Earth with the hope that these images will be a channel of inspiration to protect the environment. Award-winning photographer Suzi Eszterhas is the Jury Chair of this competition. This photography competition calls for high-quality nature, wildlife, and conservation images from around the world. The winning shots will be exhibited at the California Academy of Sciences.
The seven categories for the BigPicture Photography Competition are:
- Art of Nature
- Aquatic Life
- Winged Life
- Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora
- Terrestrial Wildlife
- Photo Story: Pushing the Limits
Entry Fee: $25 for up to 10 single images; $10 for one photo series.
Prize: $5,000 and $1000 cash will be awarded to the winners of the seven categories
Submission Dates: December 1st - March 1st
Compete for the IPPA Photographer of the Year Award in 18 categories. Photographers must use an iPhone or an iPad.
The categories for this iPad and iPhone photography contest are Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Children, Floral, Landscape, Lifestyle, Nature, News and Events, Panorama, People, Portrait, Series (3 images), Still Life, Sunset, Travel, Trees, Other.
Entry Fee: $3.50 for one image and there are no limits on the no. of images you submit.
Prize: A Gold Bar from the most recognizable private gold mint in the world for the first prize winners in the 18 categories. 2nd and 3rd prize winners in the 18 categories will receive a palladium bar.
Submission Date: By March 31st
This photography contest, which only accepts 1,000 applicants, zoomed in on the theme of "Inspire," asking the visual storyteller to convey inspiration and hope to others, in 2019. Entrants can submit up to five photos in this online photography contest.
Entry Fee: $24/entry
Prize: Winners get to choose between three cameras or $3000
Submission Dates: Check website for current dates.
This photography competition began in 1975 as a medium to appreciate the photographers who were using a light microscope to create images. The 'Small World' competition has become the leading platform for photomicrographers. The competition is open to everyone.
Snag the top prize in this contest with photomicrograph--a photo taken through a light microscope. Even the 11th-20th place winners are awarded $200.
The contestant can submit the photograph in any subject and can use any light microscopy techniques to capture a photograph.
Entry Fee: Free
Prize: $3,000 and a trip to Nikon's Headquarters in Japan.
Submission last date: April 30th, submissions after that will be eligible for next years competition.
Leading photography magazine MonoVisions will award creative expression in the black and white medium. This black and white photography competition is also open for amateurs, and photos taken with traditional or digital mediums are accepted.
The two sections of the competition are the Black and White Series of the Year and Back and White Photo of the Year.
The 12 categories are: Abstract, Architecture, Conceptual, Fine Art, Landscapes, Nature and Wildlife, Nude, People, Photojournalism, Portrait, Street Photography, Travel
Entry Fee: $20 for a single photo; $25 for a series (maximum 8 photos with common concept & idea)
Prize: $2,000 for the top single; $3,000 for the top series
Submission Date: By May 17th.
The Production Paradise Spotlight Awards for Photographic Excellence is a photography competition with a unique focus for advertising talent. The Spotlight Awards allow talented photographers more than 50 of some of the most influential creative decision-makers around the globe, acting as the judges.
Photographers may submit imagery in 13 professional categories that include Advertising, Beauty, fashion, etc. There are also two special categories: Shot on Mobile (Capturing an Authentic Moment) and Student (Every Picture Tells a Story). Each category will have a single winner, and all 50+ judges will choose a Grand Prize winner from the professional category winners.
The competition has 13 categories like beauty, cars, advertising, fashion, etc.
Entry Fee: 35 euros for professional photographers and 25 euros for each entry thereafter.
Prize: There is over $30,000 worth of prizes, throughout 13 categories, with a chance for one photographer to win over $7,000 in prizes, including $5000 cash.
Submission Dates: See website for current dates.
Of all the photography contests, this is the most prestigious black-and-white photography only competition. This competition has separate contests for both amateurs and professional photographers. The Monochrome Awards is one of the best photography contests for beginners who are interested in black and white photography.
The categories are:
- Fashion / Beauty
- Fine Art
Entry Fee: $20/entry for professionals; $15/entry for amateurs
Prize: $2,000 for professional winner; $1,000 for amateur
Submission Date: Check website for current dates.
There are 20 categories of color photography in this international photography contest, which is open to both amateur and professional photographers. The awards aim to promote the best photographers in the world and recognize upcoming talented photographers. Chromatic awards gold, silver, and bronze medals for each level in each category.
The categories for this competition include Abstract, Architecture, Landscape, etc. which are the same for the amateur photography contest as well.
Entry Fee: $20/entry for professionals; $15/entry for amateurs (if entries made by July 19, 2020)
Prize: $2,000 for professionals; $1,000 for amateurs
Submission Date: By October 25, 2020 (with $5 increased entry fee).
A photo contest entry could be just what you need to get your creative wheels turning. These photography contests encourage innovation and aim to elevate new talent in the world of photography. So get your viewfinder ready and capture that award-winning shot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Photograph competitions worth it?
Photography contests can be a very good opportunity, especially for beginner photographers, to gain some exposure and see how they perform in comparison to their peers and competitors. You should not make them your main priority, especially over paid gigs, but competitions can give you the push you need to showcase your best work.
What are the best photography competitions?
The Sony World Photography Awards, The Istanbul Photo Awards and Nikon International Small World Competition are some of the best photography competitions in the world.
What is the highest award in photography?
The Hasselblad Award is awarded to a photographer who is recognized for major achievements in the field of photographic arts. It is considered one of the highest awards in photography internationally.
How do you win a photography competition
When entering a photography competition, it is important to stick to the rules, themes and deadlines provided. Look up previous winners and entrants to see who you are up against and enter your best possible work.