Submit your Photos to Photography Competitions

Photography is meant to be looked at and admired, and what better ways are there to start showcasing your work if not by entering a photography competition? In this short article I will present you with several extremely large photography competitions currently open for entries, organized by World Photography Organization, Nikon, and the very prestigious National Geographic.

Submit your Photos to Photography Competitions

NIKON D700 @ 44mm, ISO 200, 1/640, f/8.0

The Encouragement Part

Before I begin listing categories and entry rules, there’s the part where I’m supposed to make you feel encouraged, make you feel like the good photographer that you are. But I have no magic words, no loud, heart-stopping speeches ready. I’m not going to tempt you with substantial prizes – it’s the participation that counts. There’s nothing I can do but ask – would you like to win? Would you like your work to be noticed and admired by professionals all over the world? Would you like to finally get off that comfortable chair of yours and do something exciting, learn and improve your skills as a photographer?

Submit your work, then. If you feel you have something worth showing, something you’re really proud of, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t, especially with two out of three competitions being completely free. There are many talented photographers among us and if you feel you’re one of them, this is a chance to be noticed.

An important note: if you are indeed interested in any of these competitions, or any other competition I failed to mention, be sure to read all the official rules, regulations and license agreements provided by the organizers before submitting your work. Be very thorough!

1) Sony World Photography Awards 2013

These competitions are organized by WPO (World Photography Organization) and sponsored by Japanese electronics giant Sony. Below I will discuss all current competitions by WPO.

Open Competition

This competition is open for, quote, “photographers of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels”. Do note that if you enter Open, you are not allowed to participate in Youth Award and Professional Competition.

1) Price and Number of Submissions
  • Basic Member: free, up to 3 photographs in a single category or spread throughout several categories;
  • Advanced Member: up to 8 photographs in a single category or spread throughout several categories; £14.95 (British pounds) to register Advanced Membership account;
  • Premium Member: up to 20 photographs in a single category or spread throughout several categories; £49.95 (British pounds) to register Premium Membership account.
2) Categories

There is a number of categories open for entry, ranging from Architecture, to Low Light, to Travel, with many in between. You are most likely to find something to suit your work. Don’t forget – you may enter several categories and increase your chance of winning.

3) More Information
  • Entry Start: 01/06/2012
  • Entry Close: 04/01/2013

Click here to go to official Open Competition website to participate or get more information.

Youth Award

This competition is open to anyone who is 19 or under. If you enter this competition, you are not allowed to participate in Open or Professional Competition.

1) Price and Number of Submissions
  • Basic Member: free, up to 3 photographs in a single category or spread throughout several categories;
  • Advanced Member: up to 8 photographs in a single category or spread throughout several categories; £14.95 (British pounds) to register Advanced Membership account;
  • Premium Member: up to 20 photographs in a single category or spread throughout several categories; £49.95 (British pounds) to register Premium Membership account.
2) Categories

Here are all three categories offered by the Youth Award, followed by the official description:

  • Culture“What does culture mean to you? Take a photograph that depicts your take on culture; it could be your local youth culture and social gatherings, a culture you have immersed yourself in whilst travelling, traditions amongst a tight-knit community or large-scale cultural gatherings such as festivals.”
  • Environment“Capture your local environment through a photograph; perhaps you want to illustrate the naturally beautiful qualities of your environment, or highlight an issue which is having a negative effect on it.”
  • Portraits“Find inspiration in the faces of people around you and take a portrait that communicates a story about your subject. Look for expressions and passing glances that might otherwise go unnoticed and push the boundaries of what can be achieved within a portrait, the most traditional of photographic styles.”
3) More Information
  • Entry Start: 01/06/2012
  • Entry Close: 04/01/2013

Click here to go to official Youth Award website to participate or get more information.

Professional Competition

The most serious (and likely popular) of WPO competitions, with the most serious rewards. If you enter this competition, you are not allowed to participate in Open Competition or Youth Award.

Here are several important points by WPO (quote):

  • Submissions must be based on a body of work.
  • Photographs submitted in to a category must be from the same body of work and will be judged as such.
  • Images entered in to the Professional Competition must have been completed or first published in 2012.
  • First published in 2012, means that the photographs entered may have been taken before 2012 but due to having been commissioned by a client to be published in 2012, have not been publicly exhibited or published in any online or print media before 2012. For more details see the rules below.
1) Price and Number of Submissions

You may enter as many categories as you wish, but you cannot submit the same series or images into several different categories. All members can submit 3-10 images into each category they choose.

  • Basic Member: free;
  • Advanced Member:£14.95 (British pounds) to register Advanced Membership account;
  • Premium Member:£49.95 (British pounds) to register Premium Membership account.
2) Categories

Professional Competition includes the most categories, with the total of 15. Sports, Portraiture, Architecture, Travel, Landscapes and Still Life – you name it. It is almost guaranteed you will find something for your work.

4) More Information
  • Entry Start: 01/06/2012
  • Entry Close: 09/01/2013

Click here to go to official Professional Competition website to participate or get more information.

Other WPO Competitions

There are more things going on at WPO. Click to read more:

  • 3D Award: “3D photographs and videos can give a whole new look to that perfect moment, adding astonishing levels of depth, clarity and realism. We are looking for entries that use true 3D technology, as offered by modern cameras such as Sony’s latest Cyber-shot compact cameras, Alpha (α) system cameras and Handycam® camcorders. Anyone can enter this dynamic competition and be a part of this image revolution.”
  • Student Focus Award: “To enter the Student Focus competition, students must submit their image to their tutor who will enter students’ images on their behalf.”
  • National Award: “World Photography Organisation and Sony launch National Award to find best photographer from participating countries”
  • 2) Nikon Photo Contest

    This competition, contrary to what you may think at first, is open to users of any digital system, not just Nikon. However, film-users are left-out – you cannot send in a scanned image, it has to be made with a digital camera. Any person, either a professional or amateur, is allowed to enter (except for Nikon employees, of course). Also, strangely, photographs must be submitted only via laptops or desktop computers. “Submissions must be made via laptop or desktop computer; work can not be submitted from a tablet computer or smartphone.”

    1) Price and Submission Rules

    Nikon Photo Contest is free to participate in. One serious rule to note is that Nikon requires complete exclusivity – you are not allowed to submit same works into other competitions before or after submitting them to Nikon Photo Contest. They can’t have been featured anywhere else, too. In other words – only “fresh” photographs are likely to pass. Next is a quote of official submission rules:

    • Entries for categories A and B are limited to a total of ten works; for example, two entries in the single photo category and one entry of four photographs in the composite category would total six works.
    • The same works or portions of the same works cannot be submitted to both categories A and B.
    • Entrants can submit one entry in each of categories C and D. This can be done on top of entries to Categories A and B.
    • Entry is limited to original works that have not formerly been displayed or exhibited and to which the entrant holds all applicable rights. Works that have won prizes in other contests or that have been submitted to other contests currently underway are not eligible. Works that are entered in other competitions after submitting to this contest will not be eligible.
    2) Categories
    • Category A:Single photo
    • Category B:Composite photos (a composite of 2 to 5 photos)
    • Category C:Photographic Video (45 seconds in length)
    • Category D:Motion Snapshot (a special award category cerebrating the release of the advanced interchangeable lens camera Nikon 1, using its “Motion Snapshot” function.)
    3) More Information
    • Entry Start: 01/12/2012
    • Entry Close: 28/02/2013

    Click here to go to official Nikon Photo Contest website to participate or read more about prizes and submission rules.

    3) National Geographic Photo Contest 2012

    National Geographic is one of the most prestigious photography-associated names out there, and they select the very best work with very high standards. Unlike Nikon Photo Contest, National Geographic will accept film scans, but all submissions must be in digital file format (no prints, etc.).

    NG also has a special 2012 International Photography Contest for Kids, which should be great fun for all those young photography lovers.

    1) Price and Submission Rules

    Each photograph will cost you $15 to submit and there is no limit to the number of entries. You must be of age when you enter the contest. There are some regional restrictions – you will find more specific information by following the link provided in “3) More Information” section.

    2) Categories

    There are three categories in total – People, Places and Nature. These categories, however, are of a very broad definition, and may include street photography, landscapes, portraits, wildlife and other.

    3) More Information
    • Entry Start: 01/09/2012
    • Entry Close: 30/11/2012

    Click here to read more about submission rules and prizes, or to go through already submitted photographs.

    Don’t Forget to Participate!

    Whether small or big, photography contests can be great fun to take part in. If you’re new to photography, you may as well start with smaller, local competitions. The most important part is that you participate.

    We at, among other things, also hope to organize photography contests in the near future.

  • desi traveler

    Hi Roman: Very informative post, though I am not a photographer per say….but I take a lot of photos from my Nikon D7000 ( was disappointing to learn that cropped format is on its way out in another article by Nasim), for my travel blog. I think participating in competitions compels one to take better photographs a bit more creatively, and also adds to a bit of mystery and learning process + one sees a lot of wonderful photos by others.

    • Romanas Naryškin

      Don’t be too worried about that crop sensor, Desi – Nasim means to say it will be gone from pro segments, but other than that, in one form or another, APS-C is here to stay for many years to come.

  • Richard

    What an excellent idea Roman, count me in.


  • Theresa

    Is there any particular reason why Nikon would have the “exclusive” clause? I can understand them wanting fresh photos but for someone like me who has displayed in a small local fair or art center, my pictures have been seen by a very small population.
    I think you should also warn those who are just beginning to beware of competitions which retain the rights to use your photo for advertising without your permission and without granting you any compensation. Many vacation resorts are doing this to gain photos for their advertising.

    • db

      “…warn those who are just beginning to beware of competitions which retain the rights to use your photo for advertising without your permission and without granting you any compensation…”

      Good point, Theresa. And this is the reason I no longer enter photo contests.

      • Romanas Naryškin

        Don’t you think that’s a little, well, drastic? :) Some organizers want to gain such rights, others don’t – why not enter competitions that don’t?

        • Ben C. K.


          I think as the author of this article you should take it upon yourself to warn your readers of the rights grabs that many competitions attempt. It’s not uncommon for photo competitions to include language in their rules that they retain worldwide usage rights in perpetuity for all submitted photos. When you say things like “there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t” participate, I feel that’s a little irresponsible. I think it would be a good idea for you to either include a section at the beginning of your article warning your readers of those potential rights grab possibilities and/or, if your promoting specific competitions as you’re doing in this article, you should make it clear which competitions have such rights grabs, if any. It would only serve to make your readers more informed, which really is the purpose of this website I believe.

          • Romanas Naryškin

            Hello, Ben, it’s nice to see you here again. A valid point there, too.

            Still, I feel it’s a little irresponsible to say “many”. Personally, I’ve never had the misfortune of entering such a competition, because, in this case, a responsible thing to do before entering is reading the rules and license statement of a given competition and deciding for yourself whether you’re ok with it or not.

            And for that, mind you, I’ve provided direct links to official contest websites, where such information can be found. My intention, Ben, was to give our readers a push in the right direction, and, while I’m not saying that your concerns are invalid (on the contrary, they are very much real and serious), it’s up to our readers to decide whether it’s worth getting into all the details more deeply.

            Such topic as license agreement would require a completely separate article, I’m afraid, one much more serious than this with a very different purpose.

            All in all, thank you for your comment. I will surely add a sentence urging anyone who’s interested to pay extra attention to the rules and regulations of whichever competition they want to submit their work to.

        • db

          “…Don’t you think that’s a little, well, drastic? :) …”

          No, not really. I think Ben C. K. summed up the issues very nicely…

          • Romanas Naryškin

            There are plenty of contests that don’t want to steal your work. Why not enter those? :)

    • Derek

      I’m a little lost here.

      Theresa, where did you see that Nikon wants “exclusive” rights to the pics? I’ve looked through the Nikon link and I don’t see such language. Exclusive rights typically means that the person/organization you give your pictures to can do whatever they want with the images. Is that the case with the Nikon contest? Or, are they just wanting “fresh” pictures?

      Please expound!

      • Derek

        Sorry, I got crossed up in my thinking -vs- my writing. I misunderstood exclusive and non-exclusive.

        From this link it looks like Nikon wants rights to do whatever they please with the picture/s:

        So….submit at your own peril ;-)

  • Kathleen

    Thanks for this encouraging post, Roman!

    • Romanas Naryškin

      You are very much welcome, Kathleen!

  • Clarence


    Thank you for the great post! I will be taking a vacation trip to NY, Washington DC area in December. What lenses should I take with me? I have a Nikon d600, 85 1.4g, 50 1.8g, and 28 1.8g. Do I need other lenses?

    Thank you!!

    • Richard

      If you can hire one perhaps, take a 28-300mm VR. It is proved to be extremely capable with my D700 and is likewise with my D800. Therefore, I would guess it will be great for the D600. I am one of the many devotees to this lens as it never ceases to amaze me. OK, it’s not got the IQ of the 24-70mm or 70-200mm f2.8’s, but it is nevertheless very capable of producing first class imagery. The other alternative is the 24-120 f4, but you won’t get the reach and the 4 degrees extra at the wide end is neither here nor there really.



  • Julie


    In which competition you will take a part?

    • Romanas Naryškin

      Not sure just yet, Юльчик. :)

      • Julie

        But I think you really should try. :)

  • Vivekan S

    Very informative article Roman…

    • Romanas Naryškin

      Vivekan, thank you!

  • Alexis

    Hi Roman,

    Thank you for your motivational article. I agree with you totally.

    Entering photo contests can have a significant effect on one’s photo career. Back in the 1980’s I entered and won thrid prize in the Nikon International photo contest. From nikon publishing my photo I got several rather nice assignments.

    Plus, it feels really good when you get the notice of winning and they send you a camera!

    Good luck to all those who enter.


  • db

    I did a bit of searching to find lists of contests and found this interesting site:

    What I like is the overview which gives enough information to help you decide whether you want to investigate the contest details. This helpfully includes the “Copyright and Usage” terms we have been discussing above. With this comprehensive list — and there are other lists, too — it may be a bit easier to find a contest with usage terms that accommodate most photographers.


  • Latrice

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    Appreciate it

    • Romanas Naryškin

      Hello, Latrice.

      It has not happened to me – try refreshing the website or updating your browser. Which one are you using? Firefox is generally though to be one of the best. I personally use Google’s Chrome and have never encountered a single problem with it.

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