For many photographers, having their work acknowledged and promoted in photography contests is a great showcase – particularly for new freelancers who are looking to build an impressive portfolio.
As well as the obvious benefits such as showcasing your work and potentially winning prizes, the process of entering a competition – thinking carefully about the images, collating ideas, testing different techniques, setting up the perfect shot – will serve you well throughout your career as a freelance photographer.
Tips for entering photography competitions
Before we get to the best competitions to enter this year, we’ve listed some useful tips to help you get the most out of the ones you enter:
- It is important to think carefully about the competition you are entering: Is there an entry fee? How will the competition entries be promoted? What are the rules/criteria regarding entries?
- Always remember to look at who the judges of the competition are. Take the time to research them and see what work they’re interested in, what their area of expertise is etc.
- Always check the terms and conditions to make sure you’re happy with how the competition organisers will use your work after you have entered.
- Don’t be put off if you are not shortlisted the first time you enter a competition. It might be a time-consuming process, but it will also help your overall practice and help you refine your skills.
- Set yourself a goal for the year of entering a certain number of competitions. Whether that’s one a month or one every two or three months, stick to the plan and try to get the most out of each competition you enter.
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Photography competitions 2021
To help get you started we’ve picked out some of the best photography competitions for you to consider entering in 2021.
Note: the below is not an exhaustive list and we will be updating the list as new photography competitions are announced throughout the year.
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International Photography Awards (IPA) 2021
The International Photography Awards is 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 International Photography Awards, or IPA, are perhaps the most well-known competition in the industry, thanks to the large cash prizes on offer (this year the winner will net $10,000).
The categories are divided between professional and amateur photographers, with 13 categories for each in total.
Find out more: https://www.photoawards.com/
iPhone Photography Awards™ 2021
The IPPAwards are the first and most popular mobile photography competition, launching the careers of many iPhone photographers around the world.
This year will the 14th year the competition has been run, and there are 18 different categories available to enter – including: portrait, abstract, travel and architecture.
The rules of this photography contest are simple. Every image needs to be an iPhone or iPad photo and submitted no larger than 1000px.
Find out more: https://www.ippawards.com/
CEWE Photo Award 2021
The CEWE Photo Award 2021 is a photo competition free to enter and open to anyone over the age of 18, whether you’re a keen amateur photographer ready to show your work in your first major photo competition or an already established professional. With ten unique categories to enter, there’s nowhere better to share your work with the world.
There are over €250,000 of prizes to be won, with first prize being a holiday of your choice worth €15,000, €7,500 of photography equipment and €2,500 of CEWE products, as well as an award presented personally at a special awards ceremony in Germany.
Find out more: https://cewe-photoworld.com/cewe-photo-award
Run by ND Magazine, the highly regarded ND Awards provide an opportunity for both professional and amateur photographers to win cash prizes and showcase their work in the magazine.
Professional and amateur photographers compete separately in the ND Awards. Both types of photographer have a range of categories available to them, including architecture, nature, fine art, and portrait photography. Professional photographers can also submit entries into the ‘editorial’ category, which is not available to amateurs.
The top prize is $2,500 for professional photographers and $1,300 for amateur entrants. There are also individual $500/$300 prizes for each category winner, and all winners will be featured in the magazine.
Find out more: https://ndawards.net/
Landscape Photographer of the Year
Focusing on landscape photography, the LPOTY offers photographers a great chance to experiment across categories such as ‘Urban Life’, ‘Black and White’ and ‘Classic View’.
The competition is open to anyone, with a special youth competition open to photographers aged 18 or under. The youth competition is free to enter in 2021, and the entry fees for the main competition are:
- A single image entry costs £9.99 (GBP)
- 8 entries cost £24.99 (GBP)
- 20 entries cost £34.99 (GBP)
The top prize of £10,000 goes to the photographer who produces the single best image from all four Adult categories. There is also a prize of £1,000 for the best photo in each of the categories and £500 for the second best photo in each category.
Find out more: https://www.lpoty.co.uk/
Anthology Photographer of the Year 2021
Anthology magazine are running a photography competition to celebrate outstanding standalone images.
The competition is open to photographers working at any level and provides a platform for photographers to showcase their work through publication. Images submitted must be on the theme of ‘Food’ and submissions will be judged on quality, creativity, originality, and visual/emotional impact.
The entry fees and deadlines are as follows:
- Early Bird: 31 May 2021 – €10 per entry
- Deadline: 31 August 2021 – €15 per entry
The winner will receive a €500 cash prize and editorial coverage in a future issue of Anthology Magazine.
Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021
The ‘Environmental Photographer Of The Year’ competition aims to showcase the very best environmental photography from around the world.
Now in its 14th year, the award celebrates humanity’s ability to survive and innovate and showcases thought-provoking images that call attention to our impact and inspire us to live sustainably.
The competition welcomes entries from all over the world, it is free to enter, and each photographer can enter up to 10 photographs.
Awards are given for the following categories:
- Environmental Photographer of the Year
- Young Environmental
- Photographer of the Year
- Environments of the Future
- Sustainable Cities
- Climate Action
- Water and Security
- The Resilient Award
- People’s Choice
Find out more: https://epoty.org/
National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition 2021
Sponsored by Nikon, the National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition 2021 is back for its 10th year with six categories and a selection of fantastic prizes.
Entrants must be 18 years old or older and be residents of the UK or Ireland. Photographs should have been taken between 1 January 2020 and 4 July 2021.
The categories are:
- Food and travel
- Urban environments
The grand prize winner will receive a Nikon Z 6II mirrorless camera and 24-70 f/4 lens, worth £2,549. Five runners up will receive a Nikon D3500 SLR camera and AF-P 18-55mm VR lens, together worth £419.
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