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Photo contests help photographers organize their best work and if awarded, can offer big dividends for branding, reputation, and backlinks for search engine optimization. Here is a list of photography contest websites that can help you showcase your work and, in some cases, win cash or other prizes.
Also, the post How to Win a Photo Contest will give you some advice on strategies to improve your chances.
International Photography Awards
International Photography Awards conducts an annual photography competition for professional, non-professional, and student photographers on a global level, creating one of the most ambitious and comprehensive competitions in the photography world today. With over 85 juries of most important people in the photography industry globally.
Be honored by receiving the coveted Lucie Statue at the Lucie Awards Gala, be published in the IPA Annual Book of Photography, be featured in the IPA Best of Show Exhibition in New York City, and win over $22,000 in cash prizes. IPA has awarded over $225,000 in cash prizes to date!
The Proify International Photography Awards is an annual competition dedicated to emerging photographers all over the World and providing them with a unique opportunity to earn credibility and global exposure. PROIFY is dedicated to shining a spotlight on up and coming amateur and student photographers in 12 different categories (such as landscape, street, portrait, after dark, wedding, panoramic, retro, HDR, travel, wildlife, drone, and macro).
PROIFY also aims at helping skilled photographers obtain greater exposure and even achieve international recognition. This year Proify opens its doors to professional photographers. Entrants can score an all-expenses-paid Luxury Photo Tour in New Zealand.
The winner will be joining renowned Australian Photographer Destin Sparks on an amazing trip to the South Island of New Zealand where he/she will be chauffeured around the island and left to discover all of the hidden beauties New Zealand has to offer. Enter at Proify.com.
GuruShots™ is a slightly different take on a photography contest – real-time/live photo challenges. It is an amazingly fun way to showcase your photos. GuruShots™ is an online gaming platform for photographers that is fun, social and educational.
They offer several different types of contests including Exhibition Challenges, Book / Album Challenges, Award Winning Challenges and more. Many of the challenges include up to the minute leaderboards so you can see how your photos stack up in real-time.
Whether you are a budding hobbyist or a seasoned professional, GuruShots™ offers photographers a fresh and captivating way to share your passion, talent, and insight with fellow enthusiasts from across the globe.
Call for Entry
Call For Entry is a little bit different than the other contests on this list since it allows for more than just photographs. It is a platform that, once your account is created, provides a way to keep your portfolio in a single place and submit it to a variety of “calls”.
The CaFE™ system works with a nationwide network of arts organizations, museums, galleries, art associations, public art programs, and many others to host a wide variety of opportunities and calls for entry on CaFE™.
Creative Motion Design
Creative Motion Design is a company that provides websites and hosting for the photography community. Their websites are not the only thing they provide though! Every month they have a photo contest that has a very creative topic.
It’s a great inspiration to try something new and to push the boundaries of your art. The prizes usually are a free website and photo cart, which is fantastic for a beginning photographer or someone who wants to try something new.
Digital Photo Pro
Digital Photo Pro is an online and print magazine that offers up some pretty cool contests to the audience. One of the great things about this site and their contests is the ability to win some physical prizes. Not only will you have prestige and exposure, you can win gear, prints and a variety of other great prizes.
It does seem like most of the contests do require you to be a US resident, but there may be some that are available to non-residents.
Most people can recognize the bright yellow magazines that are National Geographic. Their picturesque and emotional images tell stories from all over the world and most countries are eligible to enter this contest too. Their big annual contest just closed for 2013 but you can enter an image from the previous two years so you still have time to plan out an incredible image for the 2014 contest. With cash and trip prizes, this is one that can put your name on the map and stretch your creativity.
Another magazine for photographers is Popular Photography and they offer monthly contests too. With their print magazine and online opportunities, your photo can become famous for that issue and you can get $100 in cold hard cash.
It offers a wide variety of categories too so almost any image in your portfolio could be used for a category in the future.
PPA Photography Competitions
Professional Photographers of America is one of the top associations for professional photographers and so when you enter one of their competitions, you know your images will be going up against some great work. Not only do they have an International Photographic Competition, their structure is set up so that they have a wide variety of local competitions available as well.
Their local competitions are a wonderful way to learn and grow if you want to enter more competitions because you will be able to witness the judges discussions and discover what makes a winning photo.
Shoot the Frame
Shoot the Frame is a suite of monthly international photography contests covering 3 areas: portrait (Shoot the Face), landscape (Shoot the Land) and wildlife (Shoot the Wild). Each month is a new opportunity and you can enter as many portraits as you want.
Every image is critiqued, and the judging is ‘blind’, meaning the judges do not know the photographer until the winners are picked. Great prizes include presets, photo books, websites and more. The perfect contest for all of your portrait, landscape or wildlife photographers in the world!
Viewbug is a new community specifically made for contests. Similar to Call for Entry, brands and companies submit their opportunities to Viewbug and then you can enter your images to win a wide variety of prizes. The huge range of contests will allow for even the most random image to most likely have a contest specifically for it.
Wedding and Portrait Photographers
Another organization, this one for Wedding and Portrait Photographers, WPPI offers similar opportunities to the PPA with portrait specifications. If you aren’t yet ready to have your work to be entered, the judging panels at the WPPI conference are a fantastic way to learn what judges are looking at and can give you a better chance for photos to enter in the future.
Two Bright Lights
If you haven’t heard of Two Bright Lights yet, let us be the ones to introduce you! For a reasonable fee, you are able to create a portfolio of images and easily spread them throughout the world to publications that are perfect for your work.
It’s a wonderful way to get exposure for your specific target market with less work on your end.
Sony World Photography Awards
The Sony World Photography Awards offers competitions in for categories: professional, open, youth, and student. Cash and gear prizes for the professional and open categories. Gear prizes for the youth category.
The 2021 awards open! More info at worldphoto.org.
Monochrome Photography Award
The Monochrome Awards is an international black and white photography contest. It is open for both amateurs and professional photographers. The winning entries in each category will receive the titles of Monochrome Photographer of the Year and Monochrome Discovery of the Year as well as also receiving cash prizes.
You can submit your photo entries for this contest no matter what your level of expertise is. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners along with other worthy photo entries will be included in the Monochrome Photography Awards annual book. This also includes Honorable Mention winners.
What to Know Before Entering Photo Contests
While these types of photo contests may look appealing to all photographers – professional and amateur alike – you need to take some time to consider all the different options available to you to help ensure a more positive experience.
First, you need to know the type of photograph they are looking for when asking for submissions. You need to be sure to enter the right type of photo in order to be considered. Be sure to read through all instructions and requirements so you get the image size and format correct as well.
You may also be required to submit a small biographical sketch of the photographer in addition to a statement about the work being entered. You should also have a title for your photograph ready as well as a brief description or caption.
You should never trust all the contests you find on the internet. You need to do your research and look deeply into each contest you are considering entering. You then need to select your best work that follows the submission guidelines.
If you find a paid-entry fee contest online, this is usually done to weed out the serious photographers from the not so serious ones. If they are willing to pay for their entry, it shows that they are more committed than others.
No matter what, don’t forget about all the benefits that can be gained from entering these photography contests online. Not only are you networking, but you are also gaining exposure for yourself and your work and obtaining feedback that can help better your future submissions.