Photography contests are essential to building a thriving professional career. But it can be complicated to find relevant ones, prepare well to increase your chances of winning, and figure out how to apply. Don’t worry, though! We’ve сollected a thorough list of photo contests and helpful tips to make the application process smoother for you. Keep on reading to discover the details!

Professional photography

Why is it important to participate in photography contests?

There are so many valid reasons to do so. First and foremost, it encourages you to create something new and special. As you probably already know, sometimes it can be hard to stay inspired and productive without external forces. Photo contests can play that role for you.

Secondly, it’s an opportunity to showcase your work to people capable of appreciating it and providing valuable feedback. And, of course, it’s also a chance to draw attention to your portfolio, make new connections, network with other creatives, and maybe even find new clients.

Thirdly, there’s a possibility of winning a monetary prize which you could then spend on new professional gear or photo editing software, or even a trip to an exciting location. Money shouldn’t be your primary reason to participate, but it’s still important.

Finally, photo competitions can be an exercise in getting out of your comfort zone, daring to try something new, observing the work of others and learning, and finding new ideas. All in all, as you can see, photography contests provide numerous advantages and opportunities.

What are the best photography contests in 2022?

World Press Photo is one of the most well-known photography contests worldwide. Unfortunately, they don’t accept submissions any longer, but numerous others are worthy of your time and effort. We’ve created a long list and divided it into various categories. Hopefully, this guide can help you.

1. Global Photo Awards

This particular contest invites everyone to participate. Its main goal is to encourage and promote creativity all around the world. There are two categories to choose from: nature and people. Participating in the Global Photo Awards seems like a great opportunity to take the first steps towards photography, receive valuable feedback, and potentially even find a community of like-minded people.

Deadline: April 17, 2022

Prize: $500-3,500

Application fee: $30

2. ND Awards

fine art photography

ND Awards has become one of the most prestigious photography contests. And even though a lot of professionals participate in it, anyone is welcome. There are various categories, including fine art, underwater, photojournalism, and many others. Also, ND Awards provides different types of titles and financial rewards.

Deadline: April 24, 2022

Prize: $300-2,500

Application fee: $15-30

3. IPA Photography Competition

sport photography

This is another prestigious contest for ambitious photographers. If you’re looking for an opportunity to attract attention to your portfolio, this is the perfect way to do it. IPA Photography Competition always receives a lot of talented and creative submissions, as well as attention. Professionals, students, and amateurs are welcome to participate and submit their photos in 13 different categories.

Deadline: February 28, 2022

Prize: $500-10,000

Application fee: $15-60

4. PHmuseum Photography Grant

documentary photography

The goal of this grant is to encourage visual storytelling and support creatives. There is no particular theme, so you’re free to choose one that you’re most interested in. However, the requirement is to submit one or several series from 5 to 20 photographs. And the highlight of PHmuseum Photography Grant is the extraordinary opportunity to have a solo exhibition on top of receiving a monetary prize.

Deadline: 17 February, 2022

Prize: $1,000-6,000

Application fee: $45

Free photography contests

5. The Prix Virginia: International photography prize for women

documentary photography

Founded ten years ago in 2012, The Prix Virginia was the first photography contest for women only. It takes place every two years, and 2022 is no exception. To participate in it, you need to choose any subject you’re interested in and submit 12-18 photos. Also, you’re required to write a letter explaining your creative process and idea behind the project.

Deadline: May 7, 2022

Prize: €10,000

Application fee: free

6. Gaia Photo Fest

The Gaia Festival is a cultural event that takes place in Italy. It’s usually an exploration of different places, local people, food, as well as traditions revolving around it. And Gaia Photo Fest is a part of it. The topic is “Food and Territory: iconography of an indissoluble relationship”. And the idea is to explore this meaningful relationship and capture it through photos. You can submit single photos or series.

Deadline: April 15, 2022

Prize: TBD

Application fee: free

7. Allard Photography Competition

If you are involved in photojournalism, and are interested in complicated subjects like corruption, consider this option. The objective is to promote law, accountability, transparency, and human rights through photography. Even though Allard Photography Competition takes place every two years, its organizers encourage photographers to submit their works throughout the year.

Deadline: May 1, 2022

Prize: CAD $1,000

Application fee: free

Popular photography contests 

8. MUSE Photography Awards

fine art photography

The idea behind this contest is to explore and celebrate the power and influence of photography. If you’re up for a creative challenge, definitely consider submitting some of your work for the MUSE Photography Awards. There are numerous categories: commercial, editorial, fine art, mobile, and others. And by the way, if you’re interested in capturing the pandemic, this contest has a category for it – COVID-19 Related Photography.

Deadline: 24 February, 2022

Prize: $100-3,000

Application fee: $25

9. Belfast Photo Festival

fine art photography

Always a major photographic event, Belfast Photo Festival encourages its participants to submit not only photos, but also photobooks that could potentially be exhibited at the festival. There are no restrictions in terms of the theme, and you’re free to choose one you prefer.

Deadline: February 18, 2022

Prize: £2,000

Application fee: €29

 

Black & white photography 

10. Monochrome Awards

underwater photography

This particular contest celebrates photography in its more traditional form – black & white.

Monochrome Awards is open to both professionals and amateurs, and includes numerous categories that you can choose from based on your preferences and interests. It’s possible to submit not only digital, but also film photographs.

Deadline: July 3, 2022

Prize: $1,000-2,000

Application fee: $15-20

11. MonoVisions Photography Awards

If you are into black and white photography, this is another great option. There are no restrictions in terms of your level of proficiency or topics. Keep in mind that MonoVisions Photography Awards has two prize categories: Black and White Series of the Year 2022 and Black and White Photo of the Year 2022. The series has to have 8 photos.

Deadline: May 15, 2022

Prize: $2,000-3,000

Application fee: $25-30

 

Documentary photography

12. Global Peace Photo Award

black and white photography

Peace all around the world is a noble goal that we should all strive for. A number of organizations behind this photo award support it to promote the idea of peaceful coexistence. The Global Peace Photo Award allows you to submit one individual photo or a series of up to 20 photos. Anyone from anywhere in the world can participate.

Deadline: May 22, 2022

Prize: €10,000

Application fee: free

Film photography

13. Film Photo Award

Even though digital photography is prevalent these days, there are film photography enthusiasts and professionals worldwide. Film Photo Award exists to support their creativity and promote their work. Every year, six awards are given out, including Kodak film rolls, film development, interviews, and coverage on social media channels.

Deadline: March 6, 2022

Prize: film-related.

Application fee: $25-35

Landscape photography

14. International Landscape Photographer of the Year

It’s important to point out that the organizers of this claim that the term ‘landscape photography’ can be interpreted freely. According to the official website of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year, “the history of landscape art is interpretive, imaginative and inspirational”. Sounds very appealing and inviting.

Deadline: TBD

Prize: $500-5,000

Application fee: $25

Mobile photography

15. IPPAWARDS

professional photography

This is one of the most well-known mobile photography competitions. IPPAWARDS stands for iPhone Photography Awards. It was founded all the way back in 2007, and it has been a career-launching event for numerous talented photographers since then. IPPAWARDS accepts submissions captured on iPhones and iPads.

Deadline: March 31, 2022

Prize: TBD

Application fee: $5,50-75,50

Portrait photography

16. August Sander Prize

If you work with conceptual or documentary photography and create portraits, this is the perfect opportunity for you. Keep in mind that it’s necessary to submit a series of up to 20 photographs that were created specifically for this contest. And participants over 40 years old are not allowed to participate, because the goal of the August Sander Prize is to support new talents.

Deadline: February 25, 2022

Prize: €5,000

Application fee: free

Science photography

17. Nikon Small World  

A very special contest that stands out among others on this list. All submissions must be taken with the help of a light microscope. Moreover, there’s a separate category for time-lapse photography or videos. The jury of the Nikon Small World consists of experts in the fields of science, scientific communications, and visual storytelling. If you’re interested in both microscopy and photography, make sure you partake.

Deadline: April 30, 2022

Prize: $3,000

Application fee: free

Sports photography

18. BIKE Magazine Photography Contest

The main focus of this particular contest is different areas of cycling. For example, pro cycling and off-road cycling. However, it’s not limited to them. There are also categories such as futurism, tech, and even open them. So feel free to apply for the BIKE Magazine Photography Contest even if your work doesn’t involve biking.

Deadline: February 28, 2022

Prize: £1,500

Application fee: £15

Nature & Wildlife photography

19. EO Global Wildlife & Natural World Photography Competition

Earth.Org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to highlighting the state of the natural world, and improving it through various actions, such as advocating for sustainable policies. EO Global Wildlife & Natural World Photography Competition is a way to attract attention to the issues in our ecosystems. Categories include Wildlife in peril and Human impacts on the environment.

Deadline: April 4, 2022

Prize: $250-1,500

Application fee: free

20. BigPicture Natural World Photography Awards

This is another promising contest for nature and wildlife photographers. BigPicture has been taking place for the past nine years, and its chair is Suzi Eszterha, an award-winning conservation photographer. On top of the cash prize, BigPicture Natural World Photography Awards provides an opportunity to exhibit your photographs at the California Academy of Sciences.

Deadline: March 1, 2022

Prize: $1,000-5,000

Application fee: $15-25

Film photography

How do you enter photography contests?

If you’ve never participated in photography contests before, you might be confused or uncertain about what to do and how. Don’t worry, though. We’ve prepared some essential tips that will help you go through this process as smoothly as possible.

  • Read all the rules carefully. Yes, this is a tedious step, but the level of your work won’t matter if you break the rules. Please remember that each photography contest has different requirements and regulations, so it’s essential to go through the list every time.
  • Do your research. Find out more about the contest, its history, founders, and organizers. Explore galleries with the works of previous participants, especially those that have received the award.
  • Stick to the topic if there’s one. Sometimes you’re free to choose one you like, but this isn’t always the case. Make sure that you clarify before creating new photographs or submitting old ones.

How do you win photography contests?

Although there’s no definite way to win a photography contest, there are some simple steps that you can take to increase your chances. We’ve collected a few tips to help you on this exciting, but nerve-wracking journey.

  1. Respect technical requirements. Sure, you can break some rules if it’s necessary for your creative process or a particular outcome you have in mind, but don’t overdo it.
  2. Take your time and start preparing as early as possible. Don’t wait until the very last minute to submit your work. It will only stress you out and increase your chance of doing something wrong.
  3. Focus on one idea at a time. Sometimes, when we want to impress someone, we’re inclined to go overboard and show everything we’re capable of. However, it might actually decrease the quality of your work and distract the judges.
  4. Avoid typical choices in how you approach photography. Simple and banal are two very different things. Make decisions that will help you stand out from the crowd.
  5. Participate in different contests. If possible, don’t do it at the same time; avoid too much work and stress. But also, don’t limit yourself to just one option. Remember that it’s crucial to be persistent and take many chances.

To sum up

Photography competitions can be beneficial both for professionals and amateurs. They provide valuable opportunities to be creative, showcase your best work, and receive helpful feedback. Also, it’s a way to make connections and learn something new. If you’re interested in participating, choose relevant contests and go for it!

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