The Best Photography Contests To Enter in 2018-2019

Photo by Roberto Delgado

Photo contests are one the best ways to gain exposure as a photographer. Whether you are a professional or just starting out. Most photo competitions are open to photographers of all levels and experiences. Many contests offer generous cash prizes, gift certificates, equipment, or workshop opportunities, and most importantly, as a winner, you will gain notoriety in the field and valuable exposure. The winning photos often end up in magazines or being in auction galleries worldwide. Even if you don’t win, many contests are free to enter, and by pushing yourself to submit your images, you grow a body of outstanding work which may eventually become your portfolio.

Whether you are a landscape photographer or prefer portraits, aerial, travel, conceptual photography, or even photomicrography, there is a contest looking for your work. Don’t let your lack of experience or the latest equipment stop you. Some may find out to learn that many competitions specifically seek iPhone photos. Many also have specific divisions which recognize the talent of young photographers. We have compiled a list of some of the most prestigious photo contests of 2018 and 2019, and you’ll want to read on because the submission periods for many of our favorite contests are fast approaching!

#METONTHEHUB Weekly Competition

Happens every week!

Every week, H Collective chooses 5-10 of their favorites images from the #MetOnTheHub hashtag on Instagram and compiles them into a short list for the community to vote on! Every Thursday evening, the photographer and model with the most votes will receive $100 each and H will announce the next set of finalists. In doing this, we hope to empower Hub members and help support their creative pursuits. You both must be a member of The Hub, so if you haven’t applied yet, apply HERE.

Nikon Small World Competition

Closes April 30th, 2019

Celebrating the intersection between photography and light microscopes, the Nikon International Small World Competition began in 1975, and over the past 43 years, it has become one the most prestigious showcases for photomicrographers in a diverse range of scientific disciplines.

The Nikon Small World Competition is open to anyone with interest in photography through the microscope. Past winners have included both “professionals and hobbyists,” and you can take a peek at many of the previous winning entries here.

Entries submitted to Nikon are judged by a panel of experts who are regarded in the fields of both photomicrography and photography. Additionally, these entries are judged on “originality, informational content, technical proficiency, and visual impact.” Above all, there are prizes awarded from first through twentieth place with the first prize of $3000 awarded. The 11th-20th place receives $200 each. Also, the winning work will also be in the Small World Gallery. You have the chance to experience what it feels like to see under a microscope. The deadline for entries is April 30th, 2019 and submission information can be found here.

International Wildbird Photo Competition

Closes December 2nd, 2018

Part of the Bird and Nature Festival. The winning photos from the International Wild Bird Photo Competition will be at the festival. This photo contest attracts international talent. You can submit photos within five categories. The categories are Bird Portrait, Bird in its Environment, Bird in Action, Artistic Vision of Bird, and Bunch of Birds.

Submission is open through December 2, 2018; a Grand Prize of 1500 will be awarded to one winner, and winners in each specific category will receive €800. Full rules and guidelines can be found here.

The International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Closes November 30th, 2018

2018 marks the 5th year of the acclaimed photo contest, The International Landscape Photographer of the Year awards. Submissions are open through November 30th, 2018 and your entry must have been shot on or after January 1st, 2017. They state on their website that the five judges are “looking for photographs that epitomize the art and craft of landscape photography. This will mean different things to different judges. Your job is to impress the judges.” The judges will be judging blindly without knowing the author’s name, or the photo’s title or caption and are looking for all photographs that embody the spirit of landscape photography.

How to Enter

Each entry into the contest costs $25, and every fifth entry is free; put more simply; if you enter 5 photographs into this photo contest, you will pay $100.  The Awards are open to all photographers, professional or novice, from any part of the world and the photos. The entries are allowed to be edited in post-production, as long as the editing has been done by the contest applicant.

Panopticon Gallery: First Look 2019

Closes November 8th, 2018

Not your typical photo contest, Panopticon Gallery is seeking artists to showcase in their gallery from January 4th, 2019-March 4th, 2019. Panopticon Gallery is located in Boston, Ma inside of Hotel Commonwealth which sees a high volume of foot traffic each day because the gallery is open to visitors 24/7.

Panopticon Gallery’s “juried portfolio showcase” entitled “First Look” will showcase the work of four to five artists’ portfolios. They recognize that individual photographs tell a story in themselves. However, they are only seeking portfolios at this time; their website states that “when part of a body of work, the photograph takes on new meaning, becoming part of a bigger and more complete narrative. A portfolio allows the photographer to explore the complexities of their subject, and provide context that gives it richness and meaning that is more than the sum of its parts.”

You need to submit 10-15 images, as well as an Artist Statement, print medium and dimensions, and necessary frame dimensions.  The application fee is $40, and sales of the art are split equally- a 50% commission goes to the gallery. Also, artists retain all copyrights. The deadline for submission is November 8th, and you can begin the application process here.

Our World is Kind Photo Contest

Closes November 13th, 2018

In a world saturated with news of violence, disaster, and greed, Envision Kindness, a non-profit in Connecticut, spreads images and stories that promote kindness, compassion, gratitude, and joy. They write, “something amazing happens when people see kindness: they feel a lot better. They are inspired by optimism, gratitude, compassion, and joy, and show a willingness to volunteer and help others.” 

The goal of the contest is to “see and share kindness, compassion, and empathy.” All images will be used within the Envision Kindness platform and may appear in print, on social media, on display, or even in a gallery space. Also, the contest is free to enter and open to all photographers (regardless of location) 18 years of age and older. Additionally, it is a great opportunity to have your work showcased and be a part of a push toward goodness. The deadline for submissions is November 13th, 2018, appropriately on World Kindness Day.

Sony World Photography Awards

Closes January 4th, 2019 for Open and Youth categories

Closes January 11th, 2019 for the Professional category

One of the world’s leading, and most renowned photo contests is back open for submissions in its 12th year. The contest is the result of a partnership between the World Photography Organisation and Sony. The goal of this photo contest is to “showcase the best contemporary photography worldwide” and is not bound by any specific theme. The contest has four competitions. Professional recognizes an exceptional body of work and has a deadline January 11th, 2019. Open is a prize that goes to “the world’s best single images” and closes January 4th, 2019. Youth is awarded to a photographer aged 12-19 (closes January 4th, 2019). Lastly, Student is open to any photography student worldwide and closes on November 30th, 2018.

Sony World Photography Awards shows Sony’s commitment to recognizing professional photographs and fostering the growth of new talent. $7000 and $3500 is awarded to “4 professional and 3 student recipients so they can continue developing their projects” and over $30,000 plus the most current Sony digital imaging equipment is split between the lucky prize winners.

Perhaps most exciting is that all winners will be in the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, which takes place in Somerset House in London and attracts around 30,000 visitors each year. The contest is free to enter, and you can begin the process here.

Monochrome Photography Awards 2018

Closes January 19th, 2019

A premier photo contest for professionals and amateurs, the Monochrome Awards celebrate black & white photography. Beyond the color guideline (toned images including sepia and selenium are also acceptable entries). There are few boundaries as Monochrome seeks to “celebrate monochrome visions and discover the most amazing photographers around the world” and is open to all points of view, interpretations, and experience levels. Above all, the contest has the following categories:

  • Abstract
  • Architecture
  • Conceptual
  • Fashion / Beauty
  • Fine Art
  • Landscapes
  • Nature
  • Nude
  • Photojournalism
  • Photomanipulation
  • Portrait
  • Street
  • Wildlife

A professional and amateur photographer will win in each category.

Winners in the professional and amateur categories will receive cash prizes. Additionally, they will win the titles “Monochrome Photographer of the Year” and “Monochrome Discovery of the Year” respectively. The entry fee for professionals is $25 and $20 for amateurs. This prestigious photo contest closes on November 18th, 2018. An announcer will name the winner on January 19th, 2019. You can learn more and begin the entry process here.

The Nikon Photo Contest

Closes January 31st, 2018

The Nikon Photo Contest International has been happening since 1969 by the Nikon Corporation. This year they are celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Celebrating the work of both professionals and amateurs, the contest provides an opportunity for “photographers around the world to communicate and to enrich image-making culture.” The guidelines of the contest had evolved over time. Also, this was to embrace new camera technology. With this changing landscape of photography, ‘Change’ is the theme for the Open Award in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018-2019.

The Theme for the division of photographers 25 years and under, the Next Generation Award, is ‘Identity’ and the Short Film Award is ‘Hope.’

Nikon states on their website:

The aim of the Nikon Photo Contest is to support the growth of the global community of people who are able to influence others through the common language of photography, irrespective of age or level of photographic experience. We regard it as a forum where people with a passion for photography can gather to enhance their skills through competition, celebrate the changing times, acknowledge each other’s efforts, find stimulation in different points of view, and help make photography an even more vital part of everyday life.

8 judges, all well-versed in photography and curation, will be judging the Nikon Photo Contest this year. The lead judge being Neville Brody, CEO of the creative agency, Brody Associates. The contest closes on January 31st, 2019, and you can find entry guidelines and submission information here.

National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition 2019

Closes December 9th, 2018

If you are from the United Kingdom or Ireland, this contest if for you. The National Geographic photo contest invites participants to submit “never-seen-before photographs that inspire others to travel the world.” With prizes awarded in 5 unique categories. The winners will receive amazing prizes to photographically-inspiring locations (think the French Alps and Slovakian Lakes). Lastly, they will receive a publication in National Geographic Traveller (UK edition).

The 5 categories of focus are Cities, Food, Nature, People, and Portfolio. You can learn more about the prizes and submissions guidelines here.

Communication Arts Photography Competition

Closes March 8th, 2019

Any photograph published or produced between March 2018 and March 2019 is eligible for submission into the distinguished Communication Arts Photography Competition. Described as one of the most-coveted awards in the industry, the winners receive valuable exposure; the winning entries will be “distributed worldwide in the Communication Arts Photography Annual, in print and digital editions, and an” Each winner will also receive a solid aluminum Award of Excellence. Industry artists will be reviewing the following categories: Advertising, Books, Editorial, For Sale, Institutional, Motion/Cinematography, Self-Promotion, Unpublished, and Student Work.

For more information on fees, categories, contest rules, and submission guidelines visit the Communications Arts website.