The best photo contests for 2022

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As a photographer, you have many opportunities to present yourself. Many choose to take 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 thought about entering photo contests?

Regardless of your photography niche, you can find numerous photo contests to see how your art compares to others in your field. Some charge an entrance fee while others are free.

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

Photo Contest Index

World Press Photo Awards

If you’re looking to pit your photojournalism skills against others in more than one competition, you should attend the World Press Photo Awards. The competition has been held since 1955 and includes some of the most impressive images documenting various events.

Over 4,000 photographers from around the world enter the competition annually, and you are split into regional winners and overall winners.

  • meeting: January
  • entrance fees: Free
  • Prices: Regional winners: €1,000, exhibition contributions and inclusion in a book. Global Winners: €1,000 + an additional €5,000, along with exhibition entries and inclusion in a book.

Sony World Photography Awards (Professional)

Sony presents two World Photography Awards each year – one for amateur photographers and one for professionals. Despite its name, you don’t have to make the bulk of your income from crafting to enter the professional photo contest.

As a professional, you can enter 10 categories at the Sony World Photography Awards. You must select 5-10 images and are not limited to a genre.

  • meeting: January
  • entrance fees: Free
  • Prices: Overall Winner: $25,000 + Sony gear. Category Winner: Sony Gear. 2nd/3rd 2nd place: A feature at a Sony exhibition, plus a book.

Sony World Photography Awards (Amateur)

Sony’s World Photography Awards are a little different for the amateur category. The competition is open to everyone; Unlike the Professional version, you only have to submit an image that you like.

Sony’s World Photography Awards open competition features multiple categories, each with a shortlist of up to 15 photographers. Registration closes at the beginning of each year.

  • meeting: January
  • entrance fees: Free
  • Prices: Overall Winner: $5,000 + Sony equipment, book copy and presentation at an exhibition – plus a trophy. Category winner: Sony equipment, certificate, book copy and exhibition contribution. Photographers shortlisted: inclusion in book.

NPPA Best of Photojournalism

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

Like the IPPA, the organizers divided the NPPA Best of Photojournalism Awards into several categories. These include politics, science and sport.

In addition to still images, the NPPA hosts awards for the best editors in photojournalism.

  • meeting: January
  • entrance fees: Free for NPPA members, $75 for non-members

Istanbul photo prices

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

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

  • meeting: February
  • entrance fees: Free
  • Prices: Category Winner: $3,000. Second: $1,500. Third place: $1,000.

Amateur Photographer of the Year

Unless you’re a professional photographer, you may sometimes find it difficult to attract attention – especially when you’re rubbing shoulders with those who are more experienced in their field. Luckily you’ll find several amateur photography awards – like the 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 presented annually and you can enter regardless of your favorite genre. You have the opportunity to participate in multiple rounds throughout the year, each with a different theme.

  • meeting: Varies
  • entrance fees: Free (Max. 1 per round with coupon from amateur photographer Magazine)
  • Prices: The winner will receive a £500 voucher for anything on MPB (each round); £1,000 voucher for the overall winner. The runner-up receives a €100 voucher. Third place finisher gets £50.

The Leica Oskar Barnack Prize

Leica’s annual Oskar Barnack Awards is one of the most prestigious photography competitions you can enter, hosted by a camera manufacturer. The company has held the ceremony every year since 1980, with participants submitting their pictures in multiple categories.
The prize money has been increased in 2020 and winners will receive a considerable selection of prizes.

  • meeting: march
  • entrance fees: Free
  • Prices: Winners: €40,000 and €10,000 worth of Leica gear. Newcomer Prize Winner: €10,000 + Leica Q2. Winners and shortlisted nominees: appearance of their work in an exhibition.

Landscape Photographer of the Year

If you live in the UK and want to show off the beauty of your country, you might want to consider entering the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. The competition has multiple categories including City Life, Black & White, and Classic View.

The Landscape Photographer of the Year award is presented by a number of sponsors, including National Rail and Sunday Times magazine.

  • meeting: Can
  • entrance fees: €9.99
  • Prices: Winner: £10,000 and a book. Category Winner: £1,000 and a book. Second in the category: book. Highly recommended images: book. Recommended pictures: inclusion in the book and exhibition.

Lucie Awards from the International Photography Awards

The Lucie Awards is the premier competition of 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 first in one of the IPPA’s 13 categories. You will then have the chance to win Discovery of the Year, and the eventual winner will go home with the Lucie Awards trophy and an additional cash prize.

  • meeting: June
  • entrance fees: $35 (Pros, single frame); $25 (amateur, single); $15 (students, single image); $60 (pros, 2-9 pics); $50 (amateur, 2-9 pics); $30 (students, 2-9 pictures)
  • Prices: $10,000 for category winners. $5,000 for the Lucie Awards winner plus a trophy

SPIE International Day of Light

Lighting is the most important aspect of good photography, and it only makes sense to celebrate it. That’s exactly what the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) is doing with the annual International Day of Light Photo Contest.

This ceremony aims to celebrate the photographers who have managed to use light to tell an impressive story in their images. Not only can you show how lighting affects landscapes and so on, you can also take shots related to lighting technology and more.

  • meeting: Sept
  • entrance fees: Free
  • Prices: Winner: $2,500. Second place: $1,000. Third place: $500. Technology and Science: $750.

Hamdan International Photography Award

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

The award “shows Dubai’s commitment to promoting and supporting arts, culture and innovation,” according to the competition. “The award speaks to all talented photographers around the world and also promotes national talent which in turn will attract international arts and culture attention. The award underscores how Dubai is fast becoming one of the most artistically conscious and established cities in the world.”

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

  • meeting: Sept
  • entrance fees: Free
  • Prices: Grand Prize: $120,000. Other top finishers will receive prizes of up to $25,000. The total prize is US$450,000 which will be split among all winners.

Nikon Photo Contest

Every year Nikon holds a competition to recognize photographers around the world. The company has been running the contest since 1969. You are not restricted by age or category, but Nikon has a separate contest for photographers under 25 years old.

  • meeting: October
  • entrance fees: Free
  • Prices: Winner: 500,000 Japanese Yen (just over $3,700). Excellence Award, Nikon’s Selection Award and Special Encouragement Award: New Nikon equipment and photo exposure.

Nature Photographer of the Year

The renowned Natural History Museum in London, United Kingdom, holds the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. The competition shines a light on photographers who have successfully captured the world’s biodiversity in their natural habitats, and the competition has been running since 1965.

To enter the contest, you must take photos of wild animals that are not pets or livestock. You can submit a maximum of 25 images.

  • meeting: December
  • entrance fees: Until 1 December 2021: £30. From 2 December 2021: £35.
  • Prices: Winner: £10,000 plus certificate and trophy. Category Winner: £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.

Lots of photo contests to get attention

As you can see from our list, you’ll find a huge variety of photo contests to enter, whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned pro. Winning one of these photo contests can take your career to the next level and give you the chance to meet some of the most sought-after photographers in the business.

You have to pick your best work if you want a chance to win, but even participating is a good learning curve for your future progress.


Photo credit: Cover photo by 123RF

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