Whether you want to make a statement, find motivation for creativity, or gain recognition and win monetary rewards, photography contests offer all of these opportunities. Anyone can take part, as modern photography competitions cover most genres and have no restrictions in regards to experience level. In addition, there are plenty of free participation options where all you need is an interesting idea and time to implement it. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best photography contests in 2023 for professionals and amateurs. Check it out and choose the contest that will unlock your potential to the fullest!

Top photography contests in 2023

*The contests are arranged in order of their deadlines.

1. Fine Art Photography Awards 2022–2023

Deadline: February 12, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur ​photographers
Application fee: $30–35 for professionals, $20–25 for amateurs
Prizes: $2000 – Grand Prize for amateurs; $3000 – Grand Prize for professionals; award titles; certificates; digital badges; and media coverage

Найкращі фотоконкурси 2023 року для професіоналів і аматорів

Source: fineartphotoawards

Fine Art Photography Awards is one of the most desired awards for those who are engaged in Fine Art photography. Created in 2014, this creative photography competition is now being held for the ninth time. Anyone can submit their work to the contest, as its 20 categories cover all possible photographic genres and techniques. These include abstract, architectural, conceptual, fashion, landscape, and portrait photography, photojournalism, photomanipulation, and more. According to FAPA organizers, their mission is to find artists and unique souls who breathe and live for creativity, to provide them a platform of promotion and support in their pursuit of self-realization and development. This contest is aimed at people who are interested in experiments and new trends, and who believe that art is born out of passion. If you share the same philosophy and are ready to show your own vision of the world don’t miss this opportunity!

2. LensCulture Portrait Awards

Deadline: February 15, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Application fee: one image — free, 5 images — $35, a series of images — $45 (discounts for students apply)
Prizes: $500–$3500 depending on place and category; participation in exhibitions; exposure on LensCulture resources; and international media exposure

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For over 18 years, LensCulture has been helping photographers gain recognition and popularity. The 10th annual LensCulture Portrait Awards are now open for submissions till the middle of February, and their organizers are looking to discover and recognize 35 talented authors of extraordinary photo portraits. Winning photographers will be exhibited at a gallery in New York during the LensCulture Discoveries photo fair. In addition, they will get massive coverage in leading international media including BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and VICE. Winners and finalists of this prestigious photography competition will also be screened at numerous photo festivals and receive monetary rewards. If creating photographic portraits is your passion and you are ready to be judged by esteemed jurors, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. The more so as you can choose one of your best works and take part in the contest for free.

3. PhMuseum 2023 Photography Grant

Deadline: February 16, 2023
Open to: photographers who practice visual storytelling
Participation fee: $30
Prizes: $1000–$5000 depending on place won; personal exhibitions; promotion on PhMuseum channels; and more

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PhMuseum Photography Grant is an annual modern photography competition. The Grant is created to recognize the importance of visual storytelling. Over the years, it has grown into a leading photography contest that awarded works by photographers such as Max Pinckers, Poulomi Basu, Jacob Aue Sobol, Diana Markosian, and many others. Applicants may freely choose their topic and use any approach, from traditional documentary photography to experimental ways of telling a story or sharing a concept. Along with monetary prizes and promotion, there is an exciting award from Landskrona Foto’s Director Jenny Nordquist: from all the submissions, she will select a photographer to be awarded a place for the 6-week Landskrona Foto Residency Program, which involves a grant, travel expenses to and from their home country, an apartment in Landskrona, and an office space with the opportunity to create a unique project.

4. Muse Photography Awards

Deadline: February 23, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Application fee: $20–50
Prizes: $100–$3000 depending on place; an award; electronic certificates; promotion on media

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Source: musephotographyawards

Muse Photography Awards’ mission is to provide one of the best platforms for photographers and give them the chance to display their work to an international audience. The contest organizers are seeking to develop the visual arts community, as well as discover talented photographers whose stories break boundaries and live on for decades to come. Entrants can tell them by choosing one of the following categories: Architecture Photography, Commercial Photography, Editorial Photography, Fine Art Photography, Mobile Photography, Black & White Photography, Event Photography, Nature Photography, People Photography, and other special categories, such as Covid-19 Related Photography, Stock Photography, and Film Photography. The theme of this year’s photography competition is “Unleash yourself” — the contest’s creators address this slogan to all those who are unbridled in their expression. Maybe this could be you?

5. BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition

Deadline: March 1, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Application fee: $15 for each Photo Story, $25 for up to 10 images (50% discount for women in February)
Prizes: $5000 — grand prize; $1000 for each category winner; participation in the exhibition; and certificates of recognition

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Source: bigpicturecompetition

If your main source of creative inspiration is nature, be sure to check out BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition. The California Academy of Sciences founded this award in 2014. This creative competition’s mission is to encourage photographers from all over the world to illustrate the rich diversity of life on Earth and inspire action to protect and conserve it. Participants may send their works in six main categories: Art of Nature; Aquatic Life; Winged Life; Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora; Terrestrial Wildlife; Human/Nature. There is also a special category, Photo Story, and this year, its theme is “A Matter of Time”. Those wishing to compete have to send 6-8 photos with captions illustrating changes through time on our planet at a variety of scales. It’s worth mentioning that the BigPicture initiative is committed to equalizing the gender imbalance in the field of nature photography. To encourage more women to join the competition, the organizers are offering a 50% discount on entry fees to female photographers in February.

6. Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Deadline: March 3, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers engaged in astrophotography
Application fee: £10; for entrants under 16 and for applicants to special prizes — free
Prizes: £250–10 000 depending on place won and class; honorary title; participation in exhibitions; one year’s subscription to BBC Sky at Night magazine

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Source: rmg.co.uk

Astronomy Photographer of the Year is a specialized photography contest dedicated to astrophotography. It is being held for the fifteenth time by the Royal Museums Greenwich. To compete in this prestigious competition, photographers from all around the world send their space photos: from stunning skyscapes to images of distant planets and constellations. The categories are determined by the contest’s specifics and include Aurorae, Galaxies, Our Moon, Our Sun, People and Space, Planets, Comets and Asteroids, Skyscapes, and Stars and Nebulae. Each participant may send up to 10 works. There are no separate categories for young competitors under 16, and participation is free for them. As part of the competition, two special prizes are also awarded. The first is the Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer. It is open to newcomers aged 16 or over who have only been practicing astronomy photography since January 2022 and have not participated in this competition before. The second award is the Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation.

7. iPhone Photography Awards 2023

Deadline: March 31, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers using an iPhone or iPad
Application fee: from $5,50 for one work to $75,50 for 25 shots
Prizes: iPad Air (Grand Prize); Apple Watch Series 3 (for top 3 winners); IPPA Photographer of the Year Award title; gold and platinum bars; publication on IPPAWARDS online gallery; and certificates

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Source: ippawards

The iPhone Photography Awards Competition is often called the “Oscars of mobile photography”. It was founded far back in 2007 and keeps motivating all iPhone photography lovers to pursue creative experiments. Moreover, popular photography competitions have been instrumental in launching the careers of many talented iPhone photographers worldwide, and the winners’ works regularly appear on the pages of leading media outlets around the world. Among them are Washington Post, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, The Loop, and others. Every year, entrants from more than 140 countries send their applications to IPPAWARDS to compete for the title of the best photographer in several categories, including Abstract, Architecture, Children, Landscape, Lifestyle, People, and others. There is an important condition that previously published photos are not eligible to enter the competition (exceptions are posts on personal accounts). In addition, the photos should not be edited in any desktop image processing program such as Photoshop, but there are no restrictions as to the use of any iOS apps.

8. MonoVisions Photography Awards 2023

Deadline: May 14, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers working in black and white photography genre
Application fee: $25 for one image and $30 for a series
Prizes: Total prize fund worth $5000; certificates; digital badges

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Source: monovisionsawards

The mission of the MonoVisions Photography Awards contest is to discover the best monochrome photographers from all over the world and provide them with the best opportunities to be recognized and rewarded for their work. This black and white photography competition is open to photographers of all backgrounds and all qualification levels. They can submit their analog or digital monochrome images to 12 categories: Abstract, Fine Art, Portrait, Architecture, Photojournalism, and many more. The prize fund will be divided between two winners — the author of Black and White Photo of the Year will receive $2000 and the author of Black and White Series of the Year will get $3000.

9. International Photography Awards

Deadline: Early bird — February 13, regular — June 15, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Application fee: $20–35 for students, $30–35 for amateurs, and $40–65 for professionals
Prizes: 11 professional photographers receive $1,200 each; 11 amateurs receive $600 each, a trip to attend the Lucie Awards Gala in New York City, award titles, trophies, publication in the IPA Annual Book of Photography, and coverage on communication channels

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Source: photoawards

International Photography Awards is one of the largest and most prestigious photography competitions for photographers. It was founded in 2003 in the United States by gallerist and philanthropist Hossein Farmani as a subsidiary project of Lucie Awards. Its mission is to recognize the achievements of the world’s finest photographers, to discover new talents, and to promote the appreciation of photography. Whatever genre you work in, the competition will definitely have a category for you. There are eleven of them including Analog/Film, Architecture, Editorial/Press, Fine Art, Book, Advertising, Event, Nature, People, Sports, and Special. In addition, each of them contains a number of subcategories, so there are all possible genres represented in the competition. Category winners also receive two tickets to attend the Lucie Awards Gala in New York city and get a chance to be awarded “The International Photographer of The Year” title (for professionals) and $12 000, or “Discovery of The Year” (for amateurs) and $6000.

10. ND Awards 2023

Deadline: Early bird — April 23 (cheaper entry fees), final — September 17, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Application fee: $19–34 depending on class, deadline, and a number of works
Prizes: $400–$3500 depending on the nomination; award title; media coverage; showcasing in the Winners’ Gallery; and certificates

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Source: ndawards

This photography contest was founded in 2014 by ND MAGAZINE. In just a few years, it became one of the most popular photography competitions, gaining the trust of both gallerists and the media community. Its philosophy is a modern approach to photography coupled with respect towards tradition. Organizers aim to discover, inspire, train and support talented artists from different parts of the world, as well as to set new trends in photography. According to their values, every photographer has a chance to be a winner in the competition, regardless of the equipment used or technique employed. Professionals can compete for the main prize in six main categories: Architecture, Editorial, Fine Art, Nature, People, and Special. All these are also available for amateurs except for the Editorial category. Winners in both classes receive the titles “ND Photographer of the Year” and “ND Discovery of the Year”.

11. Tokyo International Foto Awards

Deadline: Early bird — May 30 (10% discount), final — September 29, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Application fee: $15–30 for one image, $20–40 for a series of images depending on class, $50 for a portfolio
Prizes: $2000–3000; $100 gift cards for category winners; participation in exhibitions; promotion on TIFA communication channels; trophies; and certificates

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Source: tokyofotoawards

The Tokyo International Foto Awards or TIFA photography contest was founded in 2016. It provides a great platform for experienced photographers and newcomers from all over the world to get acquainted with Japan’s creative community and present their works to a new market. Those wishing to compete for prizes can submit photos in 9 categories: Advertising, Architecture, Book, Editorial, Events, Fine Art, Nature, People, and Science. Each of them contains many subcategories, so you will definitely find your own niche. In addition, participants may enter the same photograph into as many categories as they choose. Important condition: all photographs should be no older than 5 years.

12. Chromatic Awards 2023

Deadline: Early bird — July 16 (cheaper entry fees), final — October 22, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers shooting in color
Application fee: $15–25 depending on class and deadline
Prizes: $1000–2000; award titles; showcasing in the Winner’s Gallery; publication in Chromatic Photo Awards Annual Book; media coverage; and certificates

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Source: chromaticawards

Chromatic Awards is an international color photography competition held this year for the third time. Despite its relatively young age, it has already gained a reputation as a great platform where both professionals and amateurs can express themselves and share their unique styles and vision. Apart from the main condition that the Awards are open to color photography only, participants are not limited in any other way. Moreover, they have 20 categories to choose from, including landscape, conceptual, fashion, sports, portrait, and many others. Entries will be judged by an international jury composed of industry professionals and creators.

13. Monochrome Photography Awards

Deadline: Early bird — July 2 (cheaper entry fees), final — November 12, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers working in the black and white photography genre
Application fee: $17–27 depending on class and deadline
Prizes: $1000–2000; award titles; showcasing in the Winner’s Gallery; publication in Monochrome Photography Awards Annual Book; and certificates

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Source: monoawards

Monochrome Photography Awards is one of the most prestigious black and white photography competitions. Over the years, the Awards have become a recognizable brand in the artistic world, searching for talent while promoting photographers and supporting them in their future development. The contest is open to entrants of any qualification level; the only condition is to use black-and-white photography. The works can be created in analog format, or in the technique of wet collodion, as well as using digital technology. Participants have 13 categories to choose from, from abstract photography to photojournalism. According to organizers, black-and-white photography requires experience, the ability to discern dependencies and subtleties of tone, and most of all, imagination. If monochrome photography is your passion, consider participating in this contest.

The best free photography contests contests in 2023

1. Nikon Photo Contest

Deadline: February 13, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Prizes: ¥500 000 (over $3800); Nikon lenses; publication in the contest winners’ gallery; participation in exhibitions; and promotion on Nikon communication channels

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Source: nikon-photocontest

Nikon Photo Contest is one of the most popular photography contests with a long history dating back to 1969. Since then, the technical capabilities of photographic equipment together with the world in general have dramatically changed, and the contest also continues to evolve, offering new standards and opportunities for talented creatives from around the world. But the mission remains unchanged: to nurture an aspirational community of creators who share important stories and influence the way people think through the global language of imaging. This year, the contest’s theme is “Beloved”. Entrants can illustrate it with a single photo or a photo series (2–5 images). Along with photographers, short film creators can compete for prizes, too. Entries should reflect the theme “Next Steps” dedicated to further growth and evolution in the future.

2. Photo Competition “European Treasures of Nature”

Deadline: March 31, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Prizes: €250–1500; publications in organizers’ magazines and websites

Wildlife and landscape photographers, both professionals and hobbyists are invited to take part in the nature photography contest “European Treasures of Nature”. This year, the event celebrates its 30th anniversary. Anyone can submit spectacular landscapes and photos that capture the beauty and diversity of Europe’s natural world. One entrant may submit up to five images. Winners will receive monetary prizes, and their photographs will be published in the large-format EuroNatur wall calendar and in the EuroNatur magazine, as well as on the websites of the organizers.

3. EO Global Wildlife & Natural World Photography Competition 2023

Deadline: April 28, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Prizes: $250–1000; promotion on Earth.Org communication channels

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Source: earth.org

Earth.Global is an environmental news and data platform that spreads the word about the impact of climate change on Earth. To raise awareness of pressing environmental issues even more effectively, the platform’s team launched a photography contest. Last year alone, more than 500 authors from 60 countries sent their submissions. To compete, you need to submit photos highlighting the vulnerability of nature on our planet and the impacts of human activities on it. Participation in EO Global Wildlife & Natural World Photography Competition 2023 is a great way to win valuable prizes and join a socially important initiative. Use it if you share the belief that photography and imagery have the power to inspire, educate, and galvanize action into protecting natural riches and preserving our future on planet Earth.

4. Nikon Small World

Deadline: April 30, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers, involved in photomicrography
Prizes: $100–3000; promotion on Nikon communication channels

Every year, Nikon holds a free photography contest in the narrow niche of microphotography. Since 1975, the company has been recognizing the efforts of masters in this field, which emerged at the intersection of photography and science. According to the contest’s organizers, photomicrographs can be of great significance not only to science or industry; they can also embody beauty and thus become pieces of art. Except for the method of creating their works, entrants have no other restrictions; they can choose any type of light microscopy technique, including phase contrast, polarized light, fluorescence, etc. Photos are judged by an independent panel of experts who are recognized authorities in the area of photomicrography and classic photography. They choose winners based on originality, informational content, technical proficiency, and visual impact.

5. SPIE International Day of Light Photo Contest

Deadline: September 16, 2023
Open to: professional and amateur photographers
Prizes: $500–2500

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Source: spie.org

SPIE International Day of Light Photo Contest is an annual creative photography contest dedicated to the International Day of Light celebrated upon the initiative of UNESCO on May 16. Its mission is to raise awareness about the impact of this day on cultural, economic, and political aspects of our world. This year, the theme of the photo contest is “A World of Light: The Vital Role That Light and Light-Based Technologies Play in Daily Life”. To explore this topic, entrants are invited to illustrate various properties of light, the betterment of the human condition with light, to show people interacting with light, or images created with light technology. Submissions start right on the Day of Light.

The most common questions about photography competitions

Why enter photography competitions

Taking part in photography contests offers a lot of benefits. In addition to the opportunity to attract attention, get an award title, and win valuable prizes, it is also an opportunity to receive unbiased feedback on your work, become part of a large creative community, and establish creative connections to exchange experience or cooperate. Competitions allow you to assess your strengths and weaknesses, hone your skills, and move to the next professional level. And do not forget that overcoming obstacles improves our self-esteem, even if it’s just overcoming banal laziness. Participating in photography contests requires leaving your comfort zone and making extra efforts, but if you are aiming at continuous development and improvement, you won’t regret it.

How to choose a photography contest

First of all, decide whether the need to pay for entry is important to you. There are way more paid contests and they offer the widest range of genres and the best prizes. Note that the application fee is usually quite affordable. At the same time, there are also free contests like the Nikon Photo Contest, which are no less prestigious and also offer great rewards.

Next, think about the approach to choosing a contest. You can follow the logical path and choose an event based on the specifics of your work. For example, if you shoot nature or prefer black-and-white photography, you will definitely find thematic contests where you can showcase your skills and talent. But you can also challenge yourself and try your hand at an unfamiliar genre. It’s a great way to push your creative boundaries and give yourself a powerful boost for development.

How much money can you win with photography contests

It all depends on which photography contest you choose. Most of the photography competitions on our list offer cash prizes ranging from several hundreds to several thousands of dollars. But money is not the only thing you can gain. Some photography contests, such as Nikon or iPhone, award winners with photo equipment, while others offer additional professional opportunities, including participation in exhibitions and special programs. These are great opportunities that can lead to creative success.

To wrap up

If you’ve ever thought about participating in a photography contest but have been waiting for a sign to get down to business, this is it. It’s impossible to lose. Even if you don’t win the title of the best photographer or a cash prize, you will definitely get a powerful boost of creative inspiration and motivation to improve your skills. Don’t be afraid to share your stories through photography. They can relate to many people from all over the world if you take advantage of this opportunity.

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