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What Are the Best Photo Contests With Cash Prizes?

Last updated on Sep 28, 2021 by [email protected]

Think your photography skills could use more exposure? Why not enter a photo contest?

These contests are well known, give out cash prizes, and are easy to enter regardless of your skill level. No matter what your artistic style is, there’s a photo contest out there for you.

We’ve listed contests you can join, their entry fees, submission deadlines, and more in this article.

Even better, some of these contests are free to enter! All you have to do is submit the photo you want to use.

Let’s get started.

What Are the Best Photography Contests?

What Are the Best Photography Contests?

Here are some of the most popular photography contests for beginners and experienced professionals:

Chromatic Photo Awards

  • Grand prize: $2,000 for the professional category and $1,000 for the amateur category
  • Deadline: 24 October 2021
  • Entry fees: 25$ per entry for professionals and $20 per entry for amateur photographers
  • Themes: Architecture Abstract, Conceptual, Culture, Cityscapes, Environmental, Fine Art, Fashion and Beauty,  Landscapes, Nudes, Nature, Portrait, People, Photojournalism,  Photomanipulation, Still Life, Street, Sports, Travel, and Wildlife 

The Chromatic Awards are open to color photography submissions from professional and amateur photographers. There are three awards for each category.

Winners will be announced on 19 December 2021. The top three winners and honorable mentions will be featured in the Chromatic Awards Annual Book. Winners will also receive downloadable badges and certificates of achievement.

Monovisions Photography Awards

  • Grand prize: $2,000 for the Photo of the Year and $3,000 for Series of the Year
  • Deadline: 23 January 2022 (early deadline), 15 May 2022 (final deadline)
  • Entry fees: If submitting on the early deadline, $20 for single and $25 for series submissions. If submitting on the final deadline, $25 for single and $30 for series submissions.
  • Themes: Architecture, Abstract, Fine Art, Conceptual, Nude, Landscapes, Nature and Wildlife, Portrait, Photojournalism, People, Street Photography, and Travel

This is a contest for black and white photos. Monovision has two categories: Black and White Photo of the Year and Black and White Series of the Year. The first category is for single submissions, while the series category accepts up to eight photos that share a familiar concept. All winners and honorable mentions receive downloadable badges and certificates of achievement.

Entry is open to all photographers — professional and amateur. Winners will be announced on 24 July 2022.

iPhone Photography Awards

  • Grand prize: A gold bar for first place winners, a platinum bar for 2nd and 3rd place winners
  • Deadline: 31 March 2022
  • Entry fee: $5.50 for one image. There is no limit on the number of images submitted, and the entry fee will vary depending on the number of images submitted.
  • Themes: Architecture, Animals, Abstract, Cityscape, Children, Lifestyle, Landscape, Nature, Portrait, People, Still Life, Series (three  images), Sunset, Travel, and Other

The iPhone photo contest is open to photos taken using an iPhone or iPad, including those that used iPhone add-on lenses. If you decide to join, be ready to show the original image. Submissions that can’t be verified as taken from either of these devices are subject to disqualification. 

The winning submissions will be featured on the iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) online gallery and other published material. Winners also receive a certificate from IPPAWARDS. 

You can submit as many photos as you want, and the winners will be announced 12 to 14 weeks after the deadline for final submissions.

Check out winning entries from past years and get more information about the contest from their official website.

Nikon Small World

  • Grand prize: $3,000 for 1st place, $2,000 for 2nd place, and $1,000 for 3rd place 
  • Deadline: 30 April 2022
  • Entry fee: photo contest free entry
  • Theme: Photomicrography

If your interest is photographing subjects under a microscope, this contest is for you!

The competition is open to all photographers 18 years old and older with access to a light microscope. Entrants can submit up to three photomicrographic digital images.

Nikon awards the top 20 winners with cash prizes between $200 to $3,000. Titles like the Image of Distinction and honorable mentions are also up for grabs. Honorable mentions receive a cash prize of $100 each, whereas the Image of Distinction receives a Nikon item or gift card worth $35.

Winners are also featured on covers of prestigious scientific and industrial journals, while the top 20 submissions are exhibited at museums and science centers across the United States and Canada.

Are Photo Contests Worth It?

Photo contests allow budding photographers to learn from and collaborate with experienced artists. If you win, there are cash prizes and equipment to be had, as well as valuable exposure through photography exhibitions and online platforms. Professionally, you can gain more recognition and set benchmarks for the industry.

Contests can also help you develop your skills and think more critically about your work’s style, theme, and composition. 

What Are the Best Photography Competitions?

What Are the Best Photography Competitions?

Whether you’re a novice photographer or a professional with many years of experience, knowledge about the best photography competitions around will help you gauge what it takes to gain more professional recognition and the standards for outstanding photographs.

Here are the most prestigious competitions you should know about:

RHS Photographic Competition

  • Grand prize: £5,000 for the overall winner and a secondary prize of £750 worth of Wex Photographic vouchers for the Young Winner
  • Deadline: 1 February 2022
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Theme: Nature

The RHS Photographic Competition is one of the best nature photography contests for all levels and age groups. It has categories like:

  • Garden
  • Indoor gardening
  • Welcoming wildlife
  • Creative
  • Macro
  • Plants
  • Social media
  • Portfolio
  • Under 11s
  • Under 18s

The selection of winners is done by age group. The first three winners in the under 18 and under 11 categories receive Wex vouchers worth £50 to £150 while the first two places in the adult category receive £150  to £250 in cash. The best in the adult and portfolio category receive a £500 cash prize and an RHS gift membership.

ND Awards

  • Grand prize: $7,500 in cash
  • Deadline: 19 September 2021
  • Entry fees: For the non-professional category, $20 per image and $25 for a series of images. For the professional category, $25 per image and $30 for a series of images. Photographers with submissions in multiple categories pay an additional $10 for each category.
  • Themes: Architecture, Abstract, Cityscapes, Fine Art, People, Photojournalism, Portrait, Landscape, Nature,  Nudes, Street, Seascapes, Travel, Urban, Underwater, and more

The ND Awards are open to all photographers above 18 years of age. Other prizes include a monthly and weekly feature on the cover page of ND Magazine, a showcase at the winner’s gallery, and more. The announcement of winners takes place on 21 November 2021.

New Cosmos of Photography

  • Grand Prize: ¥1 million, an opportunity to showcase work at the New Cosmos of Photography Exhibition, Canon products, and publicity
  • Deadline: The application and work acceptance period runs from March to May each year
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Theme: N/A

The New Cosmos of Photography competition is an annual Canon photo contest that was launched in 1991. It endeavors to discover, nurture, and support new photographers. There are seven Excellence Award winners.

Honorable mention winners get:

  • ¥30,000
  • The opportunity to have their work exhibited at the New Cosmos of Photography Exhibition

Excellence Award winners and honorable mentions are also featured in the New Cosmos of Photography Magazine, while the overall winner gets their work showcased on their official website.

Winners are announced end-July on their website.

Wedding and Portrait Photographers International’s Annual Print, Album, and Filmmaking competition

  • Grand Prize: Grand Awards and Crystal Trophies
  • Deadline: 30 June 2021
  • Entry Fee: $30 to $95 depending on the category and entry date
  • Theme: 30 categories covering photography and filmmaking

The Wedding and Portrait Photographers International’s (WPPI) Annual Print, Album, and Filmmaking competition occur during the trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. It aims to motivate and educate portrait and wedding photographers who are committed to their craft.

The contest takes place in two stages: The contestants receive personal feedback from the judges and collect points. These points help them achieve the distinct title of Honors of Excellence. The last stage involves live judging at WPPI’s annual conference.

The contest runs in a cycle from the second half of the current year to the first half of the following year. 

What Are the Most Prestigious Photo Contests?

What Are the Most Prestigious Photography Awards?

Suppose you’re serious about photography and have put in a lot of time and effort into perfecting your craft. In that case, it’s only natural to seek validation from the most prestigious award-giving bodies in the industry.

While you won’t find a lack of photography awards, some have more credibility and provide more distinction than others. These awards are well-respected the world over by photographers of different skill levels and even industry leaders.

Here are the awards to keep an eye on:

Monochrome Photography Awards

  • Grand prize: $2,000 for the winner in the professional category and $1,000 for the winner in the amateur category
  • Deadline: 14 November 2021
  • Entry fee: $25 per entry in the professional section and $20 per entry in the amateur section
  • Themes: Architecture, Abstract, Conceptual, Beauty, Fashion, Fine Art, Landscapes, Nude, Nature, Photomanipulation, Photojournalism, Portrait, Street, and Wildlife

The Monochrome Photography competition honors black and white photography and has a category for amateurs and professionals. The winner for the professional category is awarded the distinction of being Photographer of the Year, while the amateur category winner is recognized with the Discovery of the Year Award.

The three first-place winners and a few honorable mentions also receive:

  • Features in the Monochrome Photography Awards Annual Book
  • Showcases in an online gallery
  • Winner’s logos and certificates

Winners will be announced on 9 January 2022, and you can submit as many images as you like.

Sony World Photography Awards

The Sony World Photography Awards is among the most prestigious photography contests for beginners. Hosting the contest each year is the World Photography Organization. Though they have several competitions aimed at different photographers, their youth and student categories are aimed at beginners.

Youth Category

  • Grand prize for the Photography of the Year Award: Latest digital imaging equipment, certificate, trophy, global press exposure, promotion and exposure in World Photo Organization’s website, free flight and accommodation for the awards ceremony in London, the an excellentinclusion of work in the awards exhibition at Somerset House in London
  • Deadline: Monthly contests from 1 June 2021 to 31 December 2021
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Theme: Show Us Your World
  • Eligibility: Single image by photographers between 12 to 19 years of age

The contest runs monthly from June to December and yearly. Every month, up to ten entries are picked. The top ten from each month then compete in the annual competition. Photographers can submit up to three images per month.

This is a good opportunity for teen photographers looking for a free photo contest.

Student Category

  • Grand prize for the Student Photographer of the Year Award: €30,000 worth of Sony digital imaging equipment, portfolio review, certificate, trophy, global press exposure, inclusion, and exposure in the World Photo Organization’s website and online community. The university that the student is affiliated with also receives recognition and equipment from Sony.
  • Deadline: 30 November 2022
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Theme: Connections

Students can enter five to ten images for each theme. However, only enrolled students currently taking up a full-time photography course from 18 to 30 years old can apply.

The Sony World Photography Awards is one of the best free photo contests.

World Press Photography Awards

  • Grand Prize: €5,000 for Photo of the Year and Photo Story of the Year awards, inclusion in their global exhibition and yearbook, photographer’s profile on their website, and more
  • Deadline: 12 January 2021
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Theme: Environment, Contemporary Issues, General News, Nature, Long-Term Projects, Sports, Portraits, Spot News

If you’re interested in press photography, then the World Press Photography Awards is one you should shortlist. There are two categories of awards you can apply for: Photo of the Year and Photo Story of the Year. 

The World Press Photography Awards are well-known across the world and provide winners with significant exposure. The one drawback is the contest is only open to professional photographers.

Team entries of two or more are eligible too, but all members need to be professional photographers. The number of photos and timeline of eligibility are different based on the category.

You can check their list of guidelines on the World Press Photo website.

National Geographic Photo Contest 

  • Grand Prize for the adult category: Photography equipment, magazine features, inclusion in their international exhibits, and more
  • Deadline: Check the deadlines for each category on their website
  • Entry Fee: Varies based on the category
  • Themes: Nature and Travel

The National Geographic Photo Contest is the ultimate and probably most prestigious photography contest, and it isn’t hard to see why. Since their first photo competition in 2006, National Geographic has gathered some of the most stunning photos in the nature and travel categories.

They were the first brand to reach a hundred million followers on Instagram, which they use to receive entries. In the first few hours after opening their contest on Instagram, they had already received over 25,000 entries.

Community and Industry Resources

Undoubtedly, knowing about and entering photo competitions can provide aspiring and professional photographers with oodles of validation. If you win, you can also get some tasty prizes and priceless exposure for your work. 

While the road to award-winning photos can be long and arduous, here are some online resources and communities that you can use to help you on your way:

Get a Behind the Scenes Look with the Professional Photographers of America

Curious about what goes on when judges look over photo submissions? Then you’ll want to visit the Professional Photographers of America’s website, where they provide live streams of the judging that happens in photography competitions.

Be Part of a Worldwide Community of Photographers with ViewBug

ViewBug is an excellent resource for joining a community of like-minded people. This San Diego-based platform brings together photographers from all over the world. 

With ViewBug, you can find photo contests to join, photography tools for many applications, and opportunities for improving your craft. 

Have Some Fun with Photography Scavenger Hunt

Want more practice before joining a photo competition? Consider Photography Scavenger Hunt, a community of photography enthusiasts who come together for scavenger hunts. 

Participants get a list of words that they must creatively capture in any style they choose. You can use any type of camera gear for the hunt, and a panel of four judges declares the winner.

Don’t Miss Out on Photo Contests

Regardless of your level of experience, you’re missing out if you haven’t been giving photography contests any thought. They are wonderful and priceless opportunities to know what’s going on in the field of photography while allowing you to engage with other photographers.

A good start would be to look at past winners for inspiration, visit the groups’ websites that host these competitions, and look at the resources we’ve recommended. Whether you win or lose, these photo competitions can help you get better at your craft.

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