Photo Contests

Chess pieces and an open book. ©Alina Oswald.

Have you ever wondered if it’s worth submitting your images to photo contests?

Here are a few thoughts:

Not all photo contests are created equal. Some are free to submit, others ask for a fee, which can vary from very low or pretty hefty. In recent years, some contests have added the one-free-entry option, to give more individuals a chance to submit. Many photo contest sites require you to sign up in order to submit or sometimes even to further browse through their site.

Why would you submit to photo contests?

  • to better understand the importance of following the rules of an assignment, the rules of a contest–what they ask of you and how to follow them; that’s good training for those photographers who want to work on photo assignments for paying clients
  • to better understand the process of image selection and/or image sequencing, with a certain assignment (theme, subject, story, etc.) in mind; to choose the best images based on the contest’s rules (sequencing, in case of multiple photo submissions, such as photo essays, portfolios, etc.)
  • to win a prize, which can include having your winning image(s) critiqued by a photo professional, featured in a magazine or on a website, and an interview (that means you need to feel comfortable talking about your work, your images, and about yourself as a photographer and creator), some online promotion on social media; photo gear; and/or money

Where can you find photo contests?

The Photographer. A self-portrait in black and white. ©Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
The Photographer. A self-portrait in black and white. ©Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Fine Art America offers various contests to FAA members. These contests are free and they can ask for photography or other visual work, or both; they are for visibility purposes only, but sometimes winning entries are featured on the contest’s page, and photographers get more views and visitors on their own FAA website; hence, possible sales; it’s easy to submit and it takes only a few minutes, so, worth the try. You can also run your own photo contests.

Alamy [stock photo] has its Alamy Picture of the Month (APOTM) contest. Again, it’s free and easy to submit contests, mostly on Twitter and/or Instagram, you just have to follow Alamy on these platforms, and follow the rules. There’s no prize but Alamy retweets some of the submitted images they like. Hence, your images get more exposure and, in turn, possible sales.

Viewbug, Photocrowd, and the like, offer a variety of photo contests and many other options.

Smithsonian Magazine offers an annual, free, photo contest, and there are multiple categories to choose from. Usually, submitted photos support various causes, from social justice to the environment and beyond.

LensCulture is definitely worth checking out. It offers amazing photography and various photo contests. There’s a fee, but oftentimes you have the option of submitting one image for free.

World Photography Organisation is definitely something to check out! Its prestige is recognized worldwide. WPO offers several photo contests. While on the WPO site, also take a look at Sony Photography Awards. Again, these are annual contests, with multiple categories to choose from.

Here’s one of my recent winning entries:

There are many, many other photo contest sites.

Magazines often run contests of all kinds, including photography.

Open Book. B&W. ©Alina Oswald.
Open book. Black-and-white photograph shot on iPhone. ©Alina Oswald.

Personally, I’m not for fee-based contests of any kind, but that’s just me.

I do believe that submitting to photo contests can be a good creative exercise. Start with small, no-fee, quick-to-submit-to contests, and go from there.

Fingers crossed if you decide to submit!

As always, thanks for stopping by,

Alina Oswald


    1. Thank you, Marcus. Appreciate it. I’m also not the one to always look for photo contests. That said, after years of evaluating images and portfolios, and now running and judging photo contests, myself, I’m more into it. I think it’s a good exercise.

      If you find contests that sound interesting to you, give them a try. You never know. Fingers crossed! And, again, thanks for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

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