Looking for contests for photographers in 2021? You are on the right track! To make sure you have something to be proud of at the end of the year, you need to set yourself ambitious goals from the start. Let us help you do this with our list of the most important contests and competitions of the year for photographers and illustrators.
Choose photography contests 2021 that suit your professional specialization or try your hand in new genres. Note: we’ll update this list in case we come across some new illustration or photography contests that are worth your attention. Good luck!
*The contests are arranged in order of their deadlines.
16 professional and amateur photography contests
Nikon Photo Contest 2020—2021
Deadline: Jan. 25, 2021, and Feb. 1, 2021 (for those who are 25 or younger)
Prize: ¥500,000 yen and Nikon top photo equipment
The competition is open to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or nationality. This year, the theme for the Open category (it is open for everyone including those who are younger than 25 years) is ‘Connect’ and the theme for the Next Generation category (open to artists aged 25 years old and younger) is ‘Passion’.
Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) 2020—2021
Deadline: Jan. 31, 2021
Prize: up to $120,000
The competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over and the main theme of this year’s HIPA contest this year is ‘Humanity’. Photographers are welcomed ‘to share the human spirit through photography, and inspire the world with your story of humanity’. There are three contest categories including the general one, Portfolio, and Architectural Photography. Artists can submit one photograph per category, except the portfolio category, where they should upload from 5 to 10 images.
Fine Art Photography Awards 2020
Deadline: Feb. 7, 2021
Prize: $2,000 and $3,000 and honorable titles
This is one of the largest award-giving bodies for artists that explore new techniques in photography and create trends. It is aimed at finding ‘artists and unique souls who breathe and live for creativity’ and providing them with a platform of promotion and support. There are separate categories for professionals and amateurs and you can apply for one or more of 20 contest categories including Abstract, Fashion Fine Art, Night Photography, Panoramic, Photomanipulation Portrait, and many others.
16th Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers
Deadline: Feb. 28, 2021
Prize: fully-paid solo exhibition and travel & lodging honoraries for winners
This award is only open to women photographers aged over 13 regardless of their nationality, professional level, and artistic technique. There are professional and non-professional sections in all the following contest categories: Abstract, Advertising & Fashion, Alternative Processes, Architecture & Interiors, Black & White, Children, Cell Phone, Cityscapes, Culture & Daily Life, Digital Manipulation & Collage, Documentary & Reportage, Fine Art, Landscapes & Seascapes, Nature, Nude & Figure, Open Theme, and others. There are as many as 23 thematic categories!
Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2021
Deadline: Mar. 3, 2021
Prize: up to £10,000
This is an annual astronomy photography competition organized by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. You can submit up to 10 images to one or several of the 8 contest categories including Aurorae, Galaxies, Our Moon, Our Sun, People and Space, and others. The competition is open to everyone and ‘All you need is a camera or phone and an eye for a stunning shot’. Mind that there are separate photography prizes open to adults, young photographers, and astrophotography amateurs.
Belfast Photo Festival 2021
Deadline: Mar. 5, 2021
Prize: £2,000 and other non-financial bonuses
Everybody aged over 16 years is welcome to take part in this contest. Artistics groups can also enter the competition. There are also no specific limitations for photography technique or genre. All winners will be exhibited in the main location of the festival and all submitting photographers will get their personal submission review by the jury of the contest.
2021 Istanbul Photo Awards
Deadline: Mar. 18, 2021
Total prize value: up to $31,000
This is a photo contest for photojournalists and news photographers. All photos you submit for Istanbul Photo Awards must be taken in 2020. There are 6 categories which you can apply: Single News, Story News, Story Daily Life, Story Portrait, Single Sports, and Story Sports. Please note that only non-staged photos are accepted for this competition. Your images must reflect important events that occurred over the past year.
Vincent van Gogh Photo Award 2021
Deadline: Mar. 30, 2021
Prize: up to €1,000
It is an international photography competition and exhibition taking place in Nuenen, Netherlands, the hometown of Vincent van Gogh. The competition is open to anyone and the theme of this year’s competition is ‘Pure’. Participants can submit up to three photos and the entry fees will be donated to UNICEF (to support its WASH program).
Nature Photo Competition 2021
Deadline: Mar. 31, 2021
Prize: up to €1,500
It is a photography contest organized by the EuroNatur Foundation (Germany) and it is focused on finding the best nature shoots featuring the nature of European countries. Note that it is open to nature photographers living in Europe. Another important rule: participants can submit not more than 5 images and all their images must be taken in Europe.
Earth.Org Global Wildlife & Natural World Photography Competition 2021
Deadline: Apr. 4, 2021
Prize: three prizes worth $1,500
The contest is open for explorers, adventure travelers, professional photographers, and photographers ‘working on the front line of wildlife conservation across the world’. You can submit your photographs for the following categories: Wildlife in Peril and Human Impacts on the Environment, and Overall Best Environmental Photo. Those photographers who manage not only to capture wildlife, but also to convey a strong social idea with their images have a high chance of winning.
Nikon International Small World Photo Contest
Deadline: Apr. 23, 2021
Prize: up to $3,000
In 2021, Nikon’s Small World is considered to be the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope. It is a photomicrography competition that is open to anyone with an interest in microscopy and photography. For 46 years, Small World has been a major showcase for photomicrographers from the widest array of scientific disciplines. Each photographer may upload a maximum of three images.
CEWE Photo Award 2021
Deadline: May 1, 2021
Prize: a trip of your choice valued at €15,000, photo equipment worth €7,500 and CEWE photo products worth €2,500
The CEWE Photo Award is the largest contest of this kind and it connects photo enthusiasts across the globe and is aimed to showcase and celebrate earth’s beauty. There are 10 contest categories for photographers to submit their works: Landscapes, People, Nature, Animals, Sports, Architecture & Technology, Cooking & Food, Travel, Hobby & Leisure, and Aerial Photos. In addition, CEWE donates €0.10 to SOS Children’s Villages Worldwide, for each photo entered. You can only take part in this contest if you are 18 years old or older.
Monovisions Photography Awards
Deadline: May 16, 2021
Fee: up to $10
Prize: up to $5,000
The competition is focused on discovering the best monochrome photographers from all over the world and delivering the best opportunities to be recognized and rewarded for their work. There are two categories open for both amateurs and professionals which are Black and White Photo of the Year 2021 and Black and White Series of the Year 2021. You can send photos created with traditional or digital methods.
Chromatic Color Photography Awards
Deadline: Oct. 24, 2021
Fee: $20 and $25
Prize: up to $2,000, photo publication in a book, international exhibition
This is a relatively young photo competition and it is a kind of continuation of the Monochrome Photography Awards for those who want to try their hand at color photography. You can submit your application to participate in one of 20 competitive categories. Your photos should be not just chromatic but represent the color as a creative tool.
National Geographic Photography Competitions (UK)
Deadlines, fees, and prizes vary depending on the contest
Competitions run by National Geographic are designed for those who enjoy nature, travel, or landscape photography and are explorers in their hearts. You can challenge yourself by trying to get one of the most noticeable titles Travel Photographer of the Year and Nature Photographer of the Year.
Monochrome Photography Awards
Deadline: Nov. 14, 2021
Fee: $20 and $25
Prize: up to $3,000, photo publication in a book, international exhibition
It is a well-known competition for professional and amateur photographers shooting black and white. The competition is open to all points of view, all levels of expertise, and all ideas of monochrome photography.
5 Illustration contest to enter in 2021
World Illustration Award by the AOI
Deadline: Feb. 15, 2021
Prize: the PRO overall winner will get £2,000 and a two-page marketing package in the Directory of Illustration, valued at $4,330, including a 100-image professional portfolio, and other winners will get smaller prizes
The World Illustration Awards showcase the great works by illustrators all over the world today. The competition is judged by distinguished professionals from the global illustration industry. This contest is valued for identifying current trends, finding undiscovered talent, and professional community building. There are 10 categories that ‘reflect the breadth of illustration being created today’ including Children’s Publishing, Site Specific, Book Cover, and others.
The Global Fashion Illustration & Drawing Awards 2021 (FIDA)
Deadline: Feb. 28, 2021
Fee: from £15 to £70
Prize: £2,000, Fida Yearly Membership (worth £250) and a feature in the Fashion Bible 2022 (worth £750)
The FIDAi Awards 2021 has four categories including ‘The Muse’, ‘The Icon’, ‘The Moment’, and ‘The Cover’. All types of image-makers from Illustrators, makeup artists, fashion designers, life drawers, animators, sculptors, collage artists, painters, stylists, and amateurs are welcomed here. They can use any style and technique you like. The highlight of this competition is that your work will be judged by fashion illustrators from brands like Tom Ford, Alexander Mcqueen, Prada, and Burberry.
Silent Book Contest
Deadline: Mar. 5, 2021
Prize: €4,000 and published book
You can submit original illustrated and unpublished book projects that have been created and produced ‘exclusively through narration by illustrated images’. Among the books sent to the competition, an international jury will select the finalists to be announced and exhibited at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and Salone del Libro of Turin. Then, the book will be published, promoted, and distributed worldwide.
Society of Illustrators Annual Competition
Deadline: Oct. 30, 2021
Fee: $20 for members and $35 for non-members (you can also apply for funding)
Prize: medals and work published in a catalog and displayed in the Society of Illustrators’ gallery in New York City
This contest is open to artists worldwide and there are 6 categories you can choose from: Editorial, Book, Advertising, Institutional, Uncommissioned, and Product Design. For 63 years, the competition has provided a platform to our global community ‘to express, through illustration the events and movements of our times’. The proceeds from the participation fees will be used to launch a digital archive of illustration, support artists and cultural organizations, including the Museum of Illustration.
V&A Illustration Awards
Deadline: the 2021 competition has been canceled and the 2022 Awards will open to entries in autumn 2021
Prize: £3,000 for professionals and £2,000 for students
The competition was established in 1972 and has since become the UK’s most prestigious annual illustration one. The Awards celebrate excellence in student illustration and three categories of contemporary practice: book cover design, book illustration, and illustrated journalism. The Awards are supported by the Enid Linder Foundation and the Moira Gemmill Memorial fund and are organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London.
Processional contests are not only an opportunity to get a large cash prize or a gold medal but also a chance to gain international recognition. Your photo or illustration competition victories, honorable titles and jury comments can be used to enhance your portfolio.
In addition, many of these competitions culminate in personal and group exhibitions, catalogs of the best works, and dozens of articles in professional publications. All this may significantly advance your career or give it a great start if you consider yourself a beginner. To master your photography or design skills before entering any of the contests above, visit our Knowledge Hub.
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