Cover photo by Petro Leyvi

In the last few decades, photography contests have had a hand in shaping the industry, promoting emerging voices, and predicting new trends. In 2020, camera brands, independent publishers, universities, and non-profit organizations alike will launch new competitions for photographers, with awards varying from cash prizes to international exhibition opportunities and more.

In anticipation of the year ahead, we’ve compiled this list of fifteen photo contests that are currently accepting submissions or opening shortly. We’ve included some heavy-hitters as well a few niche contests to give you some variety—based on your level of experience and area of interest.

Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list, and in many ways, we’ve just scratched the surface. Remember to follow your favorite photo platforms and social media channels to stay up-to-date on upcoming competitions and awards.

Exploring Folgefonna National Park by Herbert Schröer on

Assorted Categories of Photography Contests

International Photography Awards
Prize: $10,000 cash prize for the ‘International Photographer of the Year Award’ (Professional Categories), $5,000 cash prize for ‘Discovery of the Year Award’ (Non-Professional Categories), exhibition, publication, and more.
Deadline: February 29, 2020.
Entry fee: Single Image: $35 in Professional Categories, $25 in Non-Professional Categories. Series: $60 in Professional Categories, $50 in Non-Professional Categories. Discounts may apply.
Eligibility requirement: Living photographers 18 years and older.

As the “sister-effort” of the Lucie Foundation, this award has been a fixture of the photo community since 2003. In addition to the top awards in the Professional and Non-Professional Categories, 13 Professional Category winners will receive $1,000, and 13 Non-Professional Category winners will receive $500.

All Category winners get two tickets to the renowned Lucie Awards Gala in New York, where they are finalists for either the International Photographer of the Year Award or the Discovery of the Year Award. Previous winners include Nadav Kander, Sandro Miller, Maxim Dondyuk, and many more.

ND Awards
Prize: $2,500 Professional Grand Prize, $1,300 Non-Professional Grand Prize, a monthly feature on the front page of ND Magazine, and more.
Early deadline: April 26, 2020
Final deadline: September 20, 2020
Entry fee: Single image: $20 Non-Professional, $25 Professional. Series: $25 Non-Professional, $30 Professional. Discounts apply to early birds.
Eligibility requirement: Photographers 18 years and older.

Presented by ND Magazine, this annual photo contest covers a range of Categories: Abstract, Architecture, Cityscapes, Fine Art, Portrait, People, Photojournalism, Nature, Landscape, Nudes, Seascapes, Street, Travel, Underwater, Urban, and Wildlife. Professional Category winners receive $500 each, and Non-Professional Category winners receive $300.

Also, Subcategory winners and Honorable Mentions earn medals and are showcased on ND’s online Winner’s Gallery. Judges are looking for work that is modern and fresh but also pays respect to the history and tradition of the medium. They’re also interested in innovative, unconventional work with a strong artistic vision. Previous winners include GMB Akash, Brooke Shaden, Francesco Pistilli, and more.

Prix de la Photographie, Paris (PX3)
Prize: $5,000 cash prize for PX3 Photographer of the Year (Professional), $2,000 cash prize for PX3 Best New Talent (Non-Professionals and Students), exhibition, the PX3 Annual Book, and more.
Early deadline: January 31, 2020 (10% discount)
Final deadline: May 1, 2020
Entry fee: $30/single image, $50/series for professional photographers; $20/single image, $40/series for non-professional and student photographers. Discounts may apply.
Eligibility requirement: Living photographers 18 years and older.

This contest comprises several categories, including Press, Portraiture, Fine Art, Nature, and many more. In addition to the overall prizes, First Place Category Winners receive $500 (Professional) or $250 (Non-Professionals and Students). Submitting photographers will also be considered for the PX3 Annual Book and Winner’s Exhibition in Paris.

*PX3 also has a special “The State of the World” contest, with a focus on eyewitness accounts and global issues. Hossein Farmani, gallerist, philanthropist, and founder of PX3, the Lucie Awards, and more, will select 30 photo stories for a curated exhibition. The entry fee is $35, and selected photographers receive $200 each.

Moscow International Foto Awards
Prize: $3,000 for MIFA Photographer of the Year, $2,000 for New Talent of the Year, $100 for Category winners.
Deadline: April 12, 2020
Entry fee: Single image: $20 for Professionals, $15 for Emerging/Non-Professionals, $10 for Students. Series: $30 for Professionals, $20 for Emerging/Non-Professionals, $15 for Students. $50 for the Portfolio Category
Eligibility requirement: Photographers 18 years and older

Open to photographers from around the globe, this award offers cash prizes as well as significant exposure opportunities. It also comprises an array of genres, from advertising and editorial photography to fine art, science, and nature. The current MIFA jury includes Hossein Farmani, gallerist Susan Spiritus, Tiffany Sprague of the Yale University Art Gallery, The Photo Review founder Stephen Perloff, APF Magazine Editor-in-Chief Rohit Vohra, and many more.


Portfolio Photography Contests

2020 Aperture Portfolio Prize
Prize: $3,000 cash prize, publication in Aperture magazine, and an exhibition in NYC.
Deadline: January 22, 2020
Entry fee: A subscription to Aperture magazine
Eligibility requirement: Open only to Aperture magazine subscribers.

From the world-renowned Aperture Foundation comes this annual prize dedicated to recognizing talent and identifying trends within the industry. The editors and curatorial staff will be looking for exciting and innovative collections that haven’t been widely published, and they’re interested in work made within the last five years. Since this is a portfolio prize, you’ll want to send in 10-15 images from a larger, cohesive body of work.

Prize: $5,000 project grant, a solo exhibition at Photoville in NYC, group exhibitions, and more.
Deadline: April 10, 2020
Entry fee: $45 per series
Eligibility requirement: Photographers 18 years and older.

THE FENCE is a series of public, open-air exhibitions taking place in major cities around the United States and Canada, including Brooklyn, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, Sarasota, and Calgary. Winning images are printed on vinyl mesh and installed in highly-trafficked areas for at least three months. In total, THE FENCE attracts approximately eight million visitors every year.

One Juror’s Choice winner receives a $5,000 grant to support their project and its development, along with a solo exhibition at Photoville, New York City’s largest annual photography event. One People’s Choice winner receives a Leica camera and is granted admission to a Leica Akademie masterclass.

Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards
Prize: TBA
Deadline: Fall/Winter 2020 (date TBA)
Entry fee: $35
Eligibility requirement: Photographers 18 years and older.

Now in its fifth year, the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards recognizes up-and-coming talent across genres and categories, ranging from fine art to documentary.

Although the 2020 awards haven’t yet been announced, prizes in past editions have included cash prizes of $500-$5,000 and group exhibitions at renowned institutions like Aperture Gallery and United Photo Industries in New York, Head On Photo Festival in Sydney, FORMAT International Photography Festival in the UK, and more. Previous winners include Lissa Rivera, Synchrodogs, Michael Joseph, Shannon Johnstone, and more.

Me by Anna Diana on

Documentary Photography Contests

CDS Documentary Essay Prize
Prize: $3,000
Deadline: March 1, 2020
Entry fee: $40
Eligibility requirement: All ages and nationalities

Presented by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, this prize alternates between photographers and writers—one year, it accepts documentary writing, and the next, it accepts photos. 2020 is a photography year, and they’re accepting current or recently completed long-term projects. Entrants submit 15 images and a one-page written statement.

In addition to receiving the $3,000 cash prize, the winning photographer will have their work added to Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Library at Duke University.

*The CDS also presents Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize for ongoing documentary fieldwork that incorporates photos and the written word. The deadline for submissions for this award is May 15th, 2020, and the prize is $10,000.

Untitled by Matthew Nordman on

Wildlife Photography Contests

Audubon Photography Awards
Prize: $5,000 Grand Prize, $2,500 Professional Prize, $2,500 Amateur Prize, $2,500 Plants for Birds Prize, $1,000 Fisher Prize. Youth Prize winners receive six days at winner’s choice of one Hog Island Audubon Camp during the 2021 season.
Early Deadline: March 30, 2020
Final Deadline: April 6, 2020
Entry fee: $20/image. Discounts apply to early birds.
Eligibility requirement: Legal residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec), age 13 and older.

This competition is exclusive to photographers of birdlife in the US and Canada, and a special Plants for Birds division will highlight the identifiable plants and supporting habitats surrounding these important animals. Submissions fall into one of three categories: Professional, Amateur, and Youth (ages 13-17). Winners will be published in Audubon and Nature’s Best Photography magazines and will also be part of a traveling exhibition.

Submitting photographers must follow the National Audubon Society’s ethical guidelines to protect the birds and ensure their safety in the future. Photos must be truthful in nature; images that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization aren’t eligible.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
Prize: Kenyan safari for the overall winner, gear, and more.
Deadline: TBA
Entry fee: None
Eligibility requirement: Open

Founded by photographers Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks, The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are an annual contest devoted to conservation—and humor. Any photography lover with a laugh-out-loud funny picture of animals in the wild is welcome to submit. At the heart of these amusing animal photos is a serious message, and the award supports the Born Free Foundation, a charity organization tirelessly advocating on behalf of wildlife.

A collection of winning images from previous years can be found in the book Wild and Crazy: Photos from the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

Black and White Photography Contests

MonoVisions Photography Awards
Prize: $3,000 for Black and White Series of the Year, $2,000 for Black and White Photo of the Year
Early deadline: January 19, 2020
Final deadline: May 17, 2020
Entry fee: $25/single image, $30/series. Discounts apply to early birds.
Eligibility requirement: Photographers 18 years and older.

Open to monochrome photographers working across 12 categories (Abstract, Architecture, Conceptual, Fine Art, Landscapes, Nature and Wildlife, Nude, People, Photojournalism, Portrait, Street Photography, and Travel), this competition includes everything from traditional darkroom photography and cutting-edge digital images.

Mobile Photography Photo Contests

iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAwards)
Prize: TBA
Deadline: March 31, 2020
Entry fee: $3.50/single image, $9.50/3 images, $15.50/5 images, $29.50/10 images, $45.50/15 images, $57.00/20 images, $65.50/25 images.
Eligibility requirement: Open

Photographers around the world are invited to compete for this award—commonly dubbed the “Oscars of mobile photography.” There are multiple categories open for this contest, including Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Children, Floral, Landscape, Lifestyle, Nature, News and Events, Panorama, People, Portrait, Still Life, Sunset, Travel, Trees, Series, and Other.

Of course, photos must be taken on an iPhone or iPad to be eligible—and they should not be edited using any desktop apps. Submissions should also not be published elsewhere, though publication on personal social media accounts is acceptable.

sunrise strides. by Johannes Höhn on

ShotByMi 2020
Prize: $5,000 US creative fund for the grand prize of each of the three contests, Xiaomi products worth $1000 for ‘the most liked photo and video’, and Xiaomi smartphones for outstanding prizes.

Deadline: July 15, 2020
Entry fee: Free
Eligibility requirement: Photos must be shot with either Mi or Redmi phones

ShotByMi 2020 is a three month photography contest held by the Mi Community. There will be three contests in 2020, each will run for one month. The theme of the first contest is #SummerVibes and participants can upload both photos and short videos related to summer.

The contest has invited four accomplished photographers as judges including Michael Yamashita, the lead judge. He is a 30-year veteran of National Geographic Magazine who has won numerous awards from industries such as the National Press Photographers Association and the Asian-American Journalists Association.

Travel Photography Contests

National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition
Prize: National Geographic Journey to Mexico, Manfrotto tripod.
Deadline: February 23, 2020
Entry fee: None
Eligibility requirement: All photographers residing in the UK and Ireland, 18 years and older.

Led by head judge Becky Redman, art editor of National Geographic Traveller in the UK, this competition welcomes travel pictures taken within the last two years by photographers of all levels. One Grand Prize winner receives a nine-day immersive adventure in Mexico, courtesy of National Geographic Journeys, with a focus on cultural wonders and cuisine. Winners in each individual category—including Cities, Landscapes, Nature, and People—win a Manfrotto Befree Advanced Travel Tripod (worth £168.95).

Themed Photography Contests

Tokyo International Photography Competition
Prize: International traveling exhibition in Taipei, New York, Dublin, and Tokyo, press coverage.
Deadline: January 27, 2020
Entry fee: $40
Eligibility requirement: Photographers 18 years and older

Presented by United Photo Industries and the Tokyo Institute of Photography, this annual competition is now in its seventh year. The theme this time around is ‘Turbulence’, so the judges are looking for images that address the climate change crisis. As polar ice continues to melt and wildfires burn around the world, TIPC will feature eight photographers confronting this issue head-on.

This year’s jury includes photo and climate experts, including Jehan Jillani, Picture and Visuals Editor at The Guardian; Miranda Massie of the Climate Museum; Brent Lewis, Business Photo Editor at The New York Times and Co-Founder of Diversify Photo; Sameera Savarala, Climate Change Specialist, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and more.

Nikon’s Small World
Prize: $3,000 First Prize, $2,000 Second Prize, $1,000 Third Prize
Deadline: April 30, 2020
Entry fee: None
Eligibility requirement: Anyone 18 years and older.

Of all the contests we’ve listed here, this is the only one devoted to microphotography. It’s been around since 1975, so it’s established itself as a fixture within photography and science communities alike.

Anyone with a passion for images and access to a light microscope can submit—macro photos and photos taken with an electron microscope aren’t eligible. The judges are looking for creative and original work that has both artistic and informational/educational appeal. They’ve also opened the competition up to videographers with the Small World in Motion competition.

Beyond the top three winners of Small World, photographers in fourth, fifth, and sixth place receive $800, $600, and $400, respectively. Those coming in seventh through tenth win $300, and photographers in 11th through 20th place receive $200 each. Honorable mentions win $100.

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