The Best Photography Contests In 2020

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There are plenty of photography contests nowadays – no matter if you’re a professional or amateur photographer, you can easily find a contest that will fit your skill level and your interests. By taking part in photography competitions, you can brush up your skills or even win big – some contests offer cash prizes, camera equipment, or having your work exhibited. Many of these contests have a modest entry fee and they are available to anyone.

If you’re interested in taking part in these contests in 2020, check out the following 7!

1. Sony World Photography Awards

This is a serious photography contest geared towards professional photographers and it is held annually. Sony World Photography competition is looking to showcase the most outstanding bodies of work in various genres of photography, such as architecture, creative, documentary, landscape, wildlife, portraiture, still life and so on.

The overall winner is chosen each year by the expert jury and given the award of $25,000. There are many other awards too, such as 2nd and 3rd place, being published in winners’ book or included in the annual exhibition at Somerset House in London, UK.

This competition has four photography contests at various levels. Here are the opening dates for each photography competition in 2020.

  • Professional (Opens 1 June 2020) – for outstanding bodies of work
  • Open (Opens 1 June 2020) – for exceptional standalone images
  • Youth (Opens 1 June 2020) – for emerging photographers aged between 12-19 years-old
  • Student (Opens 1 June 2020)  – for photography students worldwide

The Sony World Photography Awards are FREE to enter – there is no entry fee. You can check out their website here. 

sony photos contests

2. Monochrome Photography Award

This international photography competition is ideal for those who are the masters of black and white photography. You can choose if you want to enter the competition as an amateur or as a professional photographer and there are 13 categories to choose from, such as landscape, portrait, fashion or abstract photography – all in black and white or monochrome obviously, but with a category for everyone.

Both professional and amateur photographers can win a cash prize along with a certificate. Also, all winners and honourable mentions are included in the Monochrome Photography Awards Annual book which is a big deal for black and white photographers.

Here is how to enter for the Monochrome Photography Awards 2020. When it comes to entry fee, it’s $25 per single entry (professional category) and $20 per single entry (amateur category).

You can check out their website here.

3. ND Awards

The ND Awards is another popular international photography competition available to any photographer. It also has many categories available, including fine art and nudes which aren’t too common when it comes to public photo contests.

The winner of the professional section receives the title Photographer Of The Year and $7500 in cash prize, while the winner of the amateur section receives the title Discovery Of The Y ear and equal prize money.

You can submit your entries here for the Neutral Density Photography Awards 2020. For non-professionals, single image entry fee is $20 and series entry fee (from 2 to 5 images) is $25. For professionals, single image entry fee is $25 and series entry fee is $30.

You can check out their website here.

nd contests photo

4. CPA International Juried Exhibition

The Center For Photographic Art (CPA) in Carmel, CA is already well-known for its annual photo contest.  Under the 2020 Members’ Juried Exhibition, this year, forty-five juror-selected photographs will be exhibited from April 11 – May 10 in the historic gallery in Carmel, California. The winning contest photo will be featured in an online gallery on the CPA website along with an additional forty-five juror selected images. This is a solid photos contest for fine art photographers.

The juror will also grant the cash awards to first ($1000), second ($500) and third ($250) place as well as five honourable mentions ($50).

Deadline:  February 21, 2020

CPA also conducts an International Exhibition towards the end of the year. Check the website for updates on the photo contest dates. When it comes to entry fee, it varies from $40 to $70 depending on the submission period and membership.

You can check out their website here.

5. Yannis Behrakis International Photojournalism Award

This prestigious annual photo contest is geared towards professional photojournalists rather than fine art photographers or other photography artists.  It is hosted by Athens Photo World, with the donation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. This year, Athens Photo World will award a 15,000€ cash prize to a completed project of documentary photography, created within the last 3 years. This contest is an amazing opportunity for talented photojournalists around the world!

Those who wish to participate should send a small portfolio with up to 24 photographs, with captions and a supporting story.

The winning project will be exhibited at the next Athens Photo World festival, in 2021.

Keep an eye on their website for 2020 entries that will open later in the year. There is no entry fee – participation in the Yannis Behrakis Award contest is free.

You can check out their website here. 

6. F-Stop Magazine – Past/Future 2020

F-Stop Magazine is an online photography magazine that features contemporary artworks from established and emerging photographers. The magazine organizes photo contests that are available to anyone – you simply need to submit 10-20 photographs from a single body of work along with your project statement.

The current contest explores the theme of Past/Future and the winning artist will be featured in issue #99 of F-Stop Magazine, in April 2020. Even though this contest doesn’t grant any cash awards, it can help younger photographers gain exposure. Another good one for fine art photographers to join.

Deadline: March 15, 2020

You can check out their website here. This one is entry fee free.

7. Photo Stories Contest For CINE-BOOKS

This is a rather unique photography contest for photographers and filmmakers who are particularly good at storytelling. You can enter this competition with a photo story or a cinematic story.

Photo story should be a photo series which represents a plot and its recommended length is 30-60 photos, while cinematic story should be in video format and represents the same story in two modes: jpg and mp4. Your stories must be unpredictable and out of the ordinary – this contest is looking for exceptionally creative minds.

The overall prize fund for this competition is $3,000.

The entries for 2020 are not yet open and they should open in a few weeks time for this year. Keep an eye on their website for entries and deadlines.

You can check out their website here for information on last year's competitions. 

There is no entry fee – participation in the competition is free of charge.

If you want to learn more about photography contests around the world, check out the following links! And keep checking back on this post as we find the best photo contests around.

A Few Photo Contest Tips

Get Some Feedback on Your Photos First

This one is pretty obvious, but in any photo competition, you need to pull out the big guns with your best photo entry if you have any chance of winning. For that, it is worth putting your work in front of other photographers who can give you honest critique. For that we recommend the Light Stalking Shark Tank, but any place you can get quality critique from experienced photographers is a great start.

Check the Prizes

Any photography contest worth its salt will address what the winners will be getting in terms of prizes. Sometimes the kudos is enough if the photography contest is a well known one, but other times the best photo might just win some valuable prizes.

Read the Terms

This follows on from the previous point, but you really need to carefully read the terms of entry. You should make specific reference to the copyrights claimed by the organiser – you don’t want to be giving your images away for free and “rights grabs” are a bit of a problem among the less scrupulous competitions.  Entry fee free competitions tend to be worse, but even paid comps terms need to be checked carefully.

How to Win a Photography Competition

Winning photo prizes is a huge topic in itself and is obviously going to require some of your best photography, but one approach that we have seen reap major rewards is analysing photos of contest winners from past years. One individual who has won a lot of photo prizes over the years is a member of the Australian photography community, and fine art photographer, Adam Williams, and he has done it with both colour and black and white images.

Adam has won Landscape Photographer of the Year, Professional Photographer of the year and Emerging Photographer of the Year in his native Australia.

He has also spent a lot of time analysing past photo competitions to see what types of images tend to win (not to mention doing a lot of travel in nature for his amazing landscape photographs). His subsequent results are amazing with more competition wins than anyone else we know of. Moreover, the people he teaches tend to have a win to submission ratio that is very impressive.

Adam’s course on how to win photo contests is well worth the read and might net you a few prizes of your own. It’s not free, but his students’ results speak for themselves.

Take a look here.

A Note on the Entry Fee and Prizes in Comps

There is a huge temptation among cash strapped photographers to look for entry fee free competitions that is fine – we all have a budget. But remember, that an entry fee free competition is totally inundated with entries which is not great for the judges and tends to impact the quality of the prizes (not to mention prestige) of a competition. While entry fee free might be the extent your wallet can handle, do not ignore the others. As they say, free can be expensive. 

Further Resources:

  1. Things You Should Know About Photography Contests
  2. What You Need to Know About Photo Contests Before You Enter
  3. These Photo Contests Will Help You Grow As a Photographer
  4. Photo Contest Deadlines
  5. 30+ Best Photography Competitions to Elevate Your Craft

About Author

Jasenka is a photographer with a background in web design. You can find out more about her on her website, see some of her newest images at 500px or get to know her better here.

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