The Best Photo Contests to Enter in 2022

As a photographer, you have many opportunities to make yourself known. Many are going the social media route, and you should definitely consider creating profiles on at least one platform. Creating a website to showcase your work is also a good idea, but have you considered entering photo contests?

Whatever your photography niche, you’ll find plenty of photo contests to determine how your art compares to others in your field. Some will require you to pay an entrance fee, while others are free.

But which photo contests should you enter? If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’ve come to the right place. This article will highlight the best, most lucrative and prestigious photo contests to enter.

Photo contest index

World Press Photo Awards

If you want to test your photojournalism skills against others in more than one competition, consider joining the World Press Photo Awards. The competition has been running since 1955 and includes some of the most powerful images documenting various events.

Over 4,000 photographers from around the world enter the competition each year, and you will be divided into regional and overall winners.

  • Deadline: January
  • Admission fees: Free
  • Price: Regional winners: €1,000, exhibits and inclusion in a book. Global winners: €1,000 + additional €5,000, plus exhibit items and inclusion in a book.

Sony World Photography Awards (Professional)

Sony organizes two annual World Photography Awards, one for amateur photographers and one for professionals. Despite the name, you don’t need to make the bulk of your income from crafting to enter the professional photography contest.

You can enter the Sony World Photography Awards as a professional in 10 categories. You will need to choose 5-10 images, and you are not limited to one genre.

  • Deadline: January
  • Admission fees: Free
  • Price: Overall winner: $25,000 + Sony gear. Category winners: Sony equipment. 2nd/3rd place: a feature film at a Sony exhibition, plus a book.

Sony World Photography Awards (Amateur)

Sony’s World Photography Awards differ a bit for the amateur category. The competition is open to all; unlike the pro version, you only have to submit an image you like.

Sony’s World Photography Awards open competition has multiple categories, with up to 15 photographers shortlisted in each. Admission usually closes around the beginning of each year.

  • Deadline: January
  • Admission fees: Free
  • Price: Overall winner: $5,000 + Sony equipment, copy of the book and presentation in an exhibition, plus a trophy. Winners of the categories: Sony equipment, certificate, book copy and exhibit article. Shortlisted photographers: inclusion in the book.

NPPA Best of Photojournalism

Each year, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) organizes the NPPA Best of Photojournalism Awards. The objective of the competition is to highlight the best photojournalists in the world and to show the importance of this field in the world of reporting.

Like the IPPA, the organizers have divided the NPPA Best of Photojournalism awards into several categories. These include, but are not limited to, politics, science, and sports.

In addition to stills, the NPPA organizes awards for the best editors in the field of photojournalism.

  • Deadline: January
  • Admission fees: Free for NPPA members, $75 for non-members

Istanbul Photo Awards

The Istanbul Photo Awards are organized and hosted annually by Anadolu Agency. Although the name might suggest otherwise, you don’t need to have a base in Istanbul to participate in the competition.

You can apply for several categories in the Istanbul Photo Awards, including single news, news and niches ranging from sports to nature. The competition is primarily aimed at press photographers.

  • Deadline: February
  • Admission fees: Free
  • Price: Category winners: $3,000. Finalists: $1,500. Third place: $1,000.

Amateur Photographer of the Year

If you’re not a professional photographer, you may sometimes find it difficult to market yourself, especially if you’re competing against those who are more experienced in their field. Luckily, you’ll find several amateur photography awards, such as Amateur Photographer of the Year, which bills itself as “the UK’s most prestigious photography competition for amateur photographers”.

The Amateur Photographer of the Year award is given out every year and you can enter regardless of your favorite genre. You will have the opportunity to participate in several rounds throughout the year, each with a different theme.

  • Deadline: Varies
  • Admission fees: Free (Max of 1 per spin with voucher amateur photographer magazine)
  • Price: Winner receives a £500 voucher for anything on MPB (each spin); £1,000 voucher for the big winner. Runners-up receive a £100 voucher. The third receives £50.

The Leica Oskar Barnack Award

Leica’s annual Oskar Barnack Award is one of the most prestigious photography competitions you can enter and organized by a camera supplier. The society has held the ceremony every year since 1980, with participants submitting their images in several categories.
The prize money has increased in 2020 and winners will receive a significant range of prizes.

  • Deadline: March
  • Admission fees: Free
  • Price: Winner: €40,000 and €10,000 of Leica equipment. Newcomer honoured: €10,000 + Leica Q2. Shortlisted winners and nominees: Appearance of their work in an exhibition.

Landscape Photographer of the Year

If you live in the UK and want to showcase the beauty of your country, you might want to consider entering the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. The contest has several categories, including city life, black and white, and classic view.

The Landscape Photographer of the Year award is organized with several sponsors, including National Rail and the Sunday Times magazine.

  • Deadline: May
  • Admission fees: £9.99
  • Price: Winner: £10,000 and a book. Category winners: £1,000 and a book. Finalists in the category: Book. Highly Recommended Images: Book. Recommended images: Inclusion in book and exhibit.

International Photography Awards Lucie Prize

The Lucie Awards are the flagship competition organized by the International Photography Awards. It takes place every year and is open to professional and amateur photographers from different countries around the world.

To enter the Lucie Awards, you must finish top of one of the 13 IPPA categories. You will then have the chance to win the discovery of the year, and the eventual winner will walk away with the Lucie Awards trophy and an additional cash prize.

  • Deadline: June
  • Admission fees: $35 (professionals, single image); $25 (amateurs, single image); $15 (students, single image); $60 (professionals, 2 to 9 images); $50 (amateurs, 2-9 images); $30 (students, 2-9 images)
  • Price: $10,000 for category winners. $5,000 for the Lucie Awards winner, plus a trophy

SPIE International Day of Light

Lighting is the most crucial aspect of good photography, and it makes sense to celebrate it. The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) is doing just that with the annual International Day of Light Photo Contest.

This ceremony aims to celebrate photographers who have managed to tell a powerful story in their images using light. In addition to showing how lighting affects landscapes and so on, you can capture images related to lighting technology and more.

  • Deadline: September
  • Admission fees: Free
  • Price: Winner: $2,500. Second place: $1,000. Third place: $500. Technology and science: $750.

Hamdan International Photography Prize

The Hamdan International Photography Award, also known as HIPA, was founded in 2011 by the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. It offers the biggest cash prizes of any photography contest in the world.

The award “demonstrates Dubai’s commitment to encouraging and supporting art, culture and innovation”, the competition says. “The award attracts all talented photographers from around the world and also nurtures domestic talent, which in turn will draw international attention to art and culture. The award highlights how Dubai is rapidly developing to become one of of the most conscious and artistically established cities in the world.

Each awards season features a different theme. Themes in recent years have included nature, humanity, water and hope.

  • Deadline: September
  • Admission fees: Free
  • Price: Grand Prize: $120,000. Other top placements receive prizes of up to $25,000. The total prize money is $450,000 divided among all winners.

Nikon Photo Contest

Every year, Nikon organizes a competition to reward photographers around the world. The company has been running the contest since 1969. You aren’t restricted by age or category, but Nikon offers a separate contest for photographers aged 25 and under.

  • Deadline: October
  • Admission fees: Free
  • Price: Winner: 500,000 Japanese yen (just over $3,700). Excellence Award, Nikon Selection Award and Special Incentive Award: New Nikon Equipment and Photo Exhibition.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The prestigious Natural History Museum in London, UK, annually hosts the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. The contest highlights photographers who have successfully captured the world’s biodiversity in their natural habitats, and the contest has been running since 1965.

To enter the contest, you must take photos of wild animals that are neither pets nor farm animals. You can submit a maximum of 25 photos.

  • Deadline: December
  • Admission fees: Until 1 December 2021: £30. From 2 December 2021: £35.
  • Price: Winner: £10,000 plus certificate and trophy. Category winners: £1,250 and a certificate. Highly recommended: Certificate.
    Portfolio Award: £2,500 and a certificate. Photojournalist Award: As above. Rising Star Portfolio Award: £1,500 and a certificate.

Many photography contests to gain visibility

As you can see from our list, you can find a huge range of photography contests to enter, whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned pro. Winning one of these photography contests can take your career to the next level and you will have the opportunity to meet some of the most coveted photographers in the industry.

You’ll have to choose your best work if you want to stand a chance of winning, but even participating is a good learning curve for your future progress.


Picture credits: Header photo from 123RF

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