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The Best Photography Contests to Enter in 2021

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Photography contests are a great way to find out if your images are up to scratch. By taking part in these competitions, you can win big. Either cash prizes, camera equipment, or having your work exhibited.

Even if you gain no financial benefit, having your images posted on the competition’s website has incredible benefits.

Here are 20 photography contests you should enter in 2021.

These awards are forever, so get submitting now. There is no time to lose.
An aerial shot of a beautiful coastal scene

1. iPhone Photography Awards

  • Deadline – 31 March 2021
  • 18 categories
  • 1st Place Prize – Gold Bar (Pamp Swiss 1g) & Certificate
  • 2nd Place Prize – Platinum Bar (Pamp Swiss 1g) & Certificate
  • 3rd Place Prize – Platinum Bar (Pamp Swiss 1g) & Certificate

If you are looking for the world’s first and most respected iPhone photography contest, you’ve found it!

The IPPAwards are the Oscars of the mobile photography world. They have launched the careers of many iPhone photographers globally.

This year will be the 14th award since the contest’s start. Last year, they received thousands of entries from more than 140 countries.

There are 18 different categories to join, including architecture, portrait, abstract and travel.

The rules of this photography contest are simple. Every image needs to be an iPhone or iPad photo and submitted no larger than 1000px.A screenshot from the iPhone Photography Awards website - photography contests

2. ND Awards

  • Early Deadline – 25 April 2021 (cheaper fee)
  • Final Deadline – 19 September 2020
  • Professional Grand Prize – $2,500, Magazine Feature, Press & Publication
  • Non-Professional Grand Prize – $1,300, Magazine Feature, Press & Publication
  • 6 Professional Category Winners – $500, Magazine Feature, Press & Publication
  • 5 Non-Professional Category Winners – $300, Magazine Feature, Press & Publication

The Neutral Density awards aim to promote photography. They do this by presenting photographers to audiences all over the globe.

This award is a melting pot of some of the world’s most outstanding imagery, and it could be yours. The winning image receives recognition, prestige, and publicity.

This photography contest is the perfect place for professional photographers. It allows them to compete across six main categories. These include fine art, nature, and architecture.

For amateurs, there are five categories. Both competitions go through a respected jury of acclaimed gallery owners, publishers, editors, and photographers.

These awards have been around since 2014. The ND magazine and its community brought this photography contest into fruition.
A screenshot from the ND Awards photography contests website

3. International Photography Awards

  • Early Bird Deadline: 14 March 2021
  • International Photographer of the Year Prize – $10,000, Trophy, Exhibition & Publication
  • Discovery of the Year Prize – $5,000, Trophy, Exhibition & Publication
  • 13 Professional Category Winners – $1,000, Exhibition & Publication
  • 13 Non-Professional Category Winners – $500, Exhibition & Publication

The International Photography Awards are one of the highest paying photography contests around. It is also the only place you can land a Lucie.

There are 13 categories to choose from. These are for professional and non-professional photographers alike. On top of this, there is also a ‘one-shot’ street photography competition.

This year will see the 18th annual photography contest. The winners receive a travel allowance and accommodation to collect their awards in New York.

This photography contest is actually the main funding machine for the Lucie Foundation. This is a non-profit, charitable foundation to honour the masters of photography.

All winning images are published in a high-quality International Photography Awards book.
A screenshot from the International Photography Awards website

4. Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

  • Deadline – TBA
  • Professional Grand Prize – $2,500 & Exhibition
  • Non-Professional Grand Prize – $1,300 & Exhibition
  • 6 Professional Category Winners – $500 & Exhibition
  • 6 Non-Professional Category Winners – $300 & Exhibition

The Taylor Wessing Photography Portrait Prize is the leading international photography contest. As the name suggests, it focuses on portraiture.

This prize promotes and celebrates the very best in contemporary portrait photography. It does so through its established reputation.

Talented professionals, amateurs and emerging artists can submit their work. The jury selects the best images, which, for many, are the first time shown.

They touch on ideas and concepts surrounding the photographic portrait while exploring other avenues. A range of moods, settings, characters, and expressions are all present.

All submissions turn into an exhibition, shown at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
It will feature the fifty-nine selected images from the winners, including the winner of the $15,000 first prize.
A screenshot of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize website

5. Communication Arts Photography Competition

  • Deadline – 5 March 2021
  • 9 Categories
  • Category winners – Personalised Award of Excellence & Award Certificate

Most photo contests come with cash prizes. The communication arts photography competition stands out as being one that doesn’t. Don’t let that put you off, it is still a revered photography competition.

To be eligible, your images need to be captured or first published between March 2019 and March 2020.

A distinguished jury of designers, art directors, and photographers chose the winning images.

Apart from winning a personalized award of excellence, your image is distributed worldwide. This takes place in the communication arts photography annual, in both digital and print.

If you are looking for one of the most coveted awards in the photography industry, you have found it. Submit today!

Screenshot of the Communication Arts Photography Competition

6. Moscow International Foto Awards

  • Deadline – 21 March 2021
  • MIFA Photographer of the Year: $3,000 cash prize and MIFA trophy
  • New Talent of the Year: $2,000 cash prize and MIFA trophy
  • First Place Category Winners: $100 cash prize each

The mission of this photograph award is to discover and recognize talented photographers from all around the world.

There are 9 categories, each of them consisting of several subcategories. The entry fee varies according to the level of proficiency (Professional and Emerging). There is a discount for students.

There is also a chance to submit a portfolio. Here the contestants can enter up to 20 images, which can be both individual images or photo series in either category. The entry fee for a portfolio is $50.

The submitted photos must be in jpg format, minimum 1000px wide or high. The size shouldn’t be bigger than 4MB per image.

Apart from the remarkable prizes, the winners of this photography contest also receive significant international publicity.

Screenshot of the Moscow International Foto Awards website

7. Nikon Small World

  • Deadline – 30 April 2021
  • 1st Prize – $3,000
  • 2nd Prize – $2,000
  • 3rd Prize – $1,000
  • 4th Prize – $800
  • 5th Prize – $600
  • 6th Prize – $400
  • 7-10th Prize – $300
  • 11-20th Prize – $200
  • Honorable Mentions – $100

The Nikon Small World photography contest gives you the largest chance of winning a cash prize. You can be 1st or 20th, and you’ll still win an amount of money.

This photography competition is all about photomicrography. This is the discipline of photographing through a light microscope.

Nikon, being a long-standing camera manufacturer has been running this competition since 1975. That’s longer than I’ve been photographing, let alone alive.

Anyone can enter, and they do in droves. They receive submissions from almost every continent on the planet. There are no restrictions, and you don’t even have to use Nikon cameras or microscopes.

Each participant can upload three images. If you don’t feel like entering, even if it is free, check out the previous winners. The images are stunning, and it might just get you in the mood to apply.
Screenshot of the Nikon Small World photography contests homepage

8. Monochrome Photography Award

  • Deadline: 4 July 2021
  • 13 Categories
  • Professional Section Prize – $2,000, certificate & Exhibition
  • Non-Professional Grand Prize – $1,000, certificate & Exhibition
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd Category Winners – Certificate & Exhibition

Is black and white photography is your thing? Then this is the photo competition for you. There are 13 categories to enter, ranging across landscapes, fashion and abstract photography.

If you are in the top three of any of them, you get a certificate alongside an exhibition of your work. All winners and honourable mentions are also included in the Monochrome Photography Awards Annual Book.

Each image costs $20 for professionals and $15 for amateurs if submitted before the early bird deadline (TBA). After, the price jumps up by $5.

The only rule is that the image has to be black and white, film or digital. Toned images, such as selenium or sepia are also accepted, so start getting creative. This is your time to shine.
Monochrome Photography Award homepage screenshot - best photography contests

9. Sony World Photography Award

  • Deadline – 14 January 2021 (Professional); 7 January 2021 (Open)
  • 20 Categories (over two competitions)
  • Professional Photographer of the Year – $25,000 (Sony Equipment) & Exhibition
  • Open Photographer of the Year Prize – $5,000 (Sony Equipment) & Exhibition

The Sony World Photography Award has four simultaneous photo contests. These are Professional, Open, Youth and Student. Each one has a different prize, and although it looks like cash, the money is for Sony Equipment.

But who wouldn’t enjoy $25,000 worth of camera gear? That’s a lot of everything you need to capture stunning shots. You only need to win first prize.

One of the other great things about this competition is the travelling exhibition. No matter which country I find myself in, I always notice the Sony World Photography Award image show.

The submitted images need to be taken within a year of their entry. There is a minimum of five and a maximum of ten images that you can send, so don’t be shy.

We love this competition because it is free to enter. That’s right, free. and you choose from many different categories.
The Sony World Photography  Award website

10. International Landscape Photographer of the Year

  • 2021 Deadline – TBA
  • Photographer First Prize – $5,000, trophy & book
  • Photographer Second Prize – $1,000, trophy & book
  • Photographer Third Prize – $500, trophy & book
  • Photography First Prize – $2,000, trophy & book
  • Photography Second Prize – $1,000, trophy & book
  • Photography Third Prize – $500, trophy & book

For all landscape photographers, enter the International Landscape Photographer of the Year award. This is their 6th year, and it’s still going strong.

The limitations are set to four images per applicant. This is to allow the experience gained from the competition is easily accessible.

From all these submissions, the jury rates the images between 1 and 100. They choose the top 101 images and move to the second round of judging. First, they find the best images, then they search for the best photographers.

There is the photographer of the year, a photograph of the year and five special subject awards. Each section goes through a rigorous selection process.

It costs $25 per image, meaning the maximum you can spend is $100 in total. They also have to be captured within a year of their submission.

The best thing about this photo contest is that you are not restricted when it comes to photography manipulation. Just make sure you do it yourself.
Screenshot from the International Landscape Photographer of the Year photography contests site

11. Life Framer Competitions

  • Deadline: end of each month
  • Prize: $24,000 prize fund, shared between the monthly winners
  • The 1st and 2nd Prize winners each month will have their image exhibited

Life Framer competitions are suitable for photographers from all niches.

There is a new category every month, such as nightlife, world travellers, or animal kingdom. Each of the categories is judged individually by industry leader photographers.

Entering one image costs you 20$, however, you can enter up to 10 images if you upgrade to premium membership.

The membership will also allow you to receive detailed feedback on your photos. This can significantly help to improve your photography

Screenshot of the Life Framer Competitions photography contest website

12. LensCulture Portrait Awards

  • Deadline: TBA for 2021
  • Prize: Series Award Winners
1st Place: $5000
2nd Place: $3000

3rd Place: $1500

  • Single Image Award Winners
1st Place: $3000
2nd Place: $1500

3rd Place: $1000

Lens Culture’s mission is to discover talented and creative photographers from all around the world.

This photography contest is open to every type of portrait photography, whether it be studio, candid, conceptual, or self-portraits. They appreciate every approach to portraiture, as long as it is executed in an imaginative and refined way.

The winners are offered professional visibility by having their photo featured at international photo festivals, as well as at a permanent exhibition.

They also receive press coverage from magazines around the world, such as The Telegraph, The Guardian, Washington Post, or The British Journal of Photography.

Screenshot of the LensCulture Portrait Awards website

13. PHmuseum Photography Grant

  • Deadline: 18 February 2021
  • Prize:
    1st Prize: $7000
    2nd Prize: $2,800
    3rd Prize: $1,400+exhibition at several photo festivals

This competition focuses on the importance of visual storytelling. Photographers with both a classic approach and innovative projects are welcome to enter.

If you would like to participate, you can enter one or more photo projects centred around a specific theme.

The submissions are reviewed by an independent jury with various photography backgrounds.

The entry fee is 40$, but if you apply until January 28, you get an early bird discount.

This contest is a great opportunity if you are outstanding in the area of narrative photography. And who wouldn’t be happy about some extra cash that you can invest in their artwork?

A screenshot of PHmuseum Photography Grant website

14. World Press Photography Awards

  • Deadline: 13 January 2021
  • Prize: €5,000 for each category

This is the most famous and internationally recognised press photography award. Its exhibition travels from country to country every year, showcasing over a hundred amazing, yet disturbing photographs.

There are eight categories in which you can enter. Each of these is aiming to find the best visual journalist in that particular field, eliminating manipulated and staged photographs.

Every category is judged by three photographers specialised in that area. After this process, the general jury selects the winners.

World Press Photography Awards definitely captures the reality of our world. If you are a press photographer and feel like you are exceptional at capturing important contemporary topics, this contest is for you.

Screenshot of the World Press Photography Awards website

15. Istanbul Photo Awards

  • Deadline: 18 Mar 2021
  • Prize: from $1000 to $6000, depending on the category

This international news photography contest is organized by Anadolu Agency. The idea came from capturing Istanbul’s diverse culture from different perspectives. Over time, Istanbul Photo Awards became a widely-known news photography contest.

One of the biggest perks of this photography competition is that the application is completely free.

There are six categories you can participate in, involving both single photos and photo series (consisting of 10 images).

The jury is made by 9 photographers, who are involved in either photojournalism or news editing.

The winners’ works are published in a photobook and exhibitions in several cities of the world, including Istanbul, New York, and Tokyo. If you are a photojournalist, this contest is definitely worth a try!

A screenshot of the Istanbul Photo Awards website

16. BigPicture Natural World Photography Awards

  • Deadline: 1 March 2021
  • The winner receives $5000 and is featured at the annual exhibit of California Academy of Sciences
  • Each category winner receives $1000

This natural photography award focuses on the natural diversity of the world and is aiming to inspire action to conserve it.

The contest accepts nature, wildlife and conservation images from all around the world, organised into 7 categories.

This can include an abstract expression of nature, such as photos from under a microscope. Aquatic life, landscapes, wild animals, or even humans’ interaction with nature are also welcome.

You can enter up to 10 single images for $25, or 4-6 images in the Photo Story category for $10. Entrants are limited up to 10 photo submissions.

BigPicture Natural World Photography Awards

17. GuruShots Photography Contests

  • Deadline: new challenge every day
  • Prize: digital gear from global brands, such as action cameras or monitors

GuruShots is taking a unique approach when it comes to photography contests. There is a new photography challenge every day, and it is up to each individual how many challenges they would like to try themselves in.

Some of the winning artworks are exhibited in galleries all around the world. There is an extra fee ($10) to enter the Exhibition Challenge, which allows you to submit up to 4 images.

The GuruShots website and application also give you a chance to connect with photographers from around the world. Apart from winning prizes, you can get exposure and feedback from other artists, thus become a better photographer over time.

The GuruShots Photography Contests website

18. Aperture Portfolio Prize

  • Deadline: 10 January 2021
  •  $3,000 cash prize
  • Exhibition in New York

This contest is looking for new photography talents who deserve recognition in contemporary photography.

After getting a magazine subscription, you need to upload 10-15 photos that you want to enter. What’s unique about this contest is that you also need to submit a CV, a bio, and a statement about your photography work.

The jury is looking at consistency, fresh ideas, technical aspects, and a unique approach to the subject. The theme is not further specified, it is up to everyone’s judgment how innovative they want to get with their photos.

A screenshot of Aperture Portfolio Prize website

19. MonoVisions Photography Awards

  • Deadline: 16 May 2021
  • $3000 award – Black and White Series of the Year
  • $2000 award – Black and White Photo of the Year

This photography contest is meant to discover the best black and white photographers, as only monochromatic submissions are allowed. You can enter photographs taken with both digital and analogue cameras.

Apart from the two main categories (single and series), there are also 12 subcategories, such as photojournalism, architecture, or travel photography

The entry fee for a series is $30 and $25 for a single image. If you apply before 17 January, there is an early bird discount.

20. BJP International Photography Award

  • Deadline: TBA for 2021
  • Prizes: £5000 production grant for a solo show
  • Own solo show at TJ Boulting Gallery, London
  • 4-page supplement in the British Journal of Photography
  • International press coverage

This award is made to discover the best contemporary talents in photography. Over the course of the last 15 years, it has launched the career of many newly discovered photographers.

From exhibition to press coverage and commissions, this contest offers a great number of opportunities for photographers.

After subscribing to the 1854 website and paying for digital or full access, the contest is free to enter.

The competition is judged by a panel of industry leader photographers, which ensures that the winners get recognition all around the world.

Screenshot from the BJP International Photography Award website

Conclusion

Entering photo contests is not only a fun way to test your photography in a competitive environment. It is also a great method to gain recognition and even win cash prizes with your art.

We hope that you enjoyed our collection of the best photo competitions of 2021. If you have anything else you would want to add in this list, drop it in the comments below!

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