10 of the best photography competitions to enter

Mon 06 Aug 2018

10 of the best photography competitions to enter

This post is by Anna-Maria Pfab, MA Photography Lecturer at Falmouth Flexible.

You've been working hard on your portfolio, editing and sequencing the work to best show off your visual identity and ambitions. What’s next? Sharing your work with the world is an important part of the creative process, but it can be difficult to know the best way to get your work in front of the eyes of professionals. 

Entering competitions is a fantastic way of doing so – but, how do you determine which one is right for you?

Below is a guide to the world’s best photography competitions to make these decisions a little easier for you. Thanks to these renowned international contests, you can not only win awards and prizes but also prestige and opportunity – so get submitting!

1. British Journal of Photography Breakthrough Awards

Deadline: September 2018

Prize: Exhibition in London and publication in the BJP

Entry fee: £10 for a single image, £30 for one series, £40 for two series

The BJP Breakthrough Awards are open to BA and MA students, as well as anyone who has graduated with a BA or an MA within five years. The winning entries have their work showcased at the BJP Breakthrough Award showcase and they are also published in the print magazine and online platform. Further to this, the winners also receive a portfolio review session and a portfolio reprint, networking and industry opportunity benefits and the opportunity to sell their work through the BJP website.

Who should enter? The award is geared towards students, emerging photographers and new talents. The award comes with a lot of exposure, prestige and support and will help emerging photographers to kick-start their career.

2. Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Deadline: December 2018

Prize: £10,000 for Wildlife Photographer of the Year and a range of prizes between £1,000 and £2,500 for other categories.

Entry fee: £30

This competition is hosted by the Natural History Museum in London and is probably the world’s most prestigious nature photography contest. There are seventeen categories covering all manner of flora and fauna. The exhibition of the winning photographs tours to 60 countries.

Who should enter? If you have an interest in nature photography then this is the contest for you!

Check out the WildLife Photographer of the Year Facebook and Instagram feeds for inspiration.

3. Sony World Photography Awards

Deadline: January 2019

Prize: £5,000

Entry fee: None

The Sony World Photography Awards is one of the most highly regarded photography competitions in the world. The winners and finalists have their work exhibited in a show at Somerset House in London and featured in a travelling exhibition going around to numerous venues around the globe.

Who should enter? There are four different categories: Professional, Open, Youth and Student. So whether you are an amateur photographer, a student or a professional photographer this competition is definitely worth considering.

Check out the Sony World Photography Awards Facebook and Instagram feeds for inspiration. 

4. World Press Photo

Deadline: January 2019

Prize: €10,000 

Entry fee: None

This is arguably the most prestigious photojournalism contest in the world. The winners’ work will be exhibited in a show touring to 45 countries, and the accompanying catalogue is internationally distributed.

Who should enter?

If you are a documentary photographer or a photojournalist you should definitely have a look at this contest.

Check out the World Press Photo Facebook and Instagram feeds for inspiration.

5. Foam Talent Call

Deadline: March 2019

Prize: Publication in Foam Magazine and inclusion in the Foam Talent exhibition

Entry Fee: €35.00

From the Foam Talent website:

Being selected as a Foam Talent puts you in the spotlight of the international photography world. It marks you as an emerging artist with great promise and gives you the means to jumpstart your career.

They are right – this is one of the most prestigious international photo competitions for photographers aged between 18 and 35. If you are selected as a Foam Talent, your work is given valuable exposure.

Who should enter? If you are within the age range, then this is a competition worth entering.

6. PDN Photo Annual

Deadline: March 2019

Prize: Between $2,000 and $10,000

Entry fee: $45 for a single entry, $55 for a series and $25 for students

Photo District News’ annual competition accepts submissions in ten categories including student work, photojournalism and fine art. The winners’ images are featured in a print publication as well as on the PDN website, whose readership includes many photo editors and art buyers.

Who should enter? There is a category for everyone and this competition is an excellent way to get exposed to industry professionals – so get entering!

7. Leia Oscar Barnack Award

Deadline: March/April 2019

Prize: €2,500 for finalists, €10,000 for the newcomer prize, €25,000 for the grand prize as well as a Leica M camera and lens worth €10,000 

Entry Fee: None

Who should enter?

The Leica Oscar Barnack Award is aimed at professional photographers, calling for the submission of self-contained series documenting the interaction between people and their environment in a creative and ground-breaking style. The Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer is aimed at photographers under the age of 25.

8. Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

Deadline: June 2019

Prize: £15,000

Entry Fee: £28 per entry

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography.

Who should enter? If you are working in the field of portraiture and are aged 18 and over then consider entering this hugely prestrigious award. The winning work is exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery and published in a catalogue accompanying the show.

9. D&AD Next Photographer Award  

Deadline: TBC

Prize: $5,000 towards realising a dream photography project

Entry Fee: £25 per entry

The D&AD Next Photographer Award is a fairly new award but it is set to unearth the best new talent in photography and promote them in the industry. The winning entry not only gets a cash prize but also mentorship from a wide portfolio of acclaimed photographers, agents and advertising agencies. The winning work will also be exhibited in a central London venue and promoted internationally on the D&AD website.

Who should enter? If less than 50% of your income from the past three years was from your own photography, then you can enter this competition. There is no age limit and you can submit up to five images of any type of photography – whether it's fashion, advertising, art, portrait or editorial.

10. International Photography Awards

Deadline: August 2019

Prize: Between $5,000 and $10,000 for different categories

Entry Fees: Professionals: Single Image: $35.00, Series (2 to 9 images): $60.00; Non-Professionals: Single Image: $25.00, Series (2 to 9 images): $50.00; Students: Single Image: $15.00, Series: $30.00

From the Annual IPA website:

The International Photography Awards conducts an annual photography competition for professional, non-professional, and student photographers on a global level, creating one of the most ambitious and comprehensive competitions in the photography world today. The IPA recognizes photography’s leading talents who are creating, shaping and defining the world of photography today.

The IPA promotes the work of their winners heavily. Further to this, they publish the winning photographers in the IPA Annual Book of Photography, and also organise a touring exhibition.

Who should enter? This competition is worth entering whatever stage of your photography career you're at.  

Check out the IPA Facebook feed for inspiration.

Good luck with your submissions!

Looking to take your photography career to the next level? Find out more about Falmouth's online MA in Photography.