Best Photography Contests to Enter in 2020

Best Photography Contests to Enter in 2020

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Would you like to get your work seen around the world in 2020? Entering your work in photography competitions is a great way to expose it to a much wider audience.

There are a lot of photography competitions happening all around the world at any given time. Some may seem more valuable than others, while a few have even been embroiled in tabloid-worthy scandals!

To get you started on your journey to creative stardom, we’ve selected some of the best photo contests in 2020, which may lead to international recognition and reap you a range of benefits in terms of prizes. We’ve even included information about entry costs and deadlines, so there’s no excuse for procrastinating. Hurry, some of these competitions are closing soon!

#1. Sony World Photography Awards

The Sony World Photography Awards is considered by many photographers as one of the world’s leading photography competitions. It is hosted by the World Photography Organisation, a platform which works with over 180 countries to raise awareness of and to celebrate the best images and photographers in the present day.

The benefit of entering these awards is to have your work seen by leading industry professionals, with the chance to be recognised globally. If you are successful, there is even the potential to have your work included in international photography exhibitions, the Sony World Photography Awards book, as well as the opportunity to apply for a grant to fund any future photography projects.

There are two sections to these awards – the Open Competition and the Professional Competition. If you enter the Open competition, then you cannot enter the Professional competition.

Open Competition

The Open Competition is free to enter for photographers of all skill levels. Entries are accepted from all members of the public. There are ten categories, including Architecture, Culture, Creative, Motion, Landscape, Natural World & Wildlife, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, as well as Travel.

While three free entries are allowed per photographer, images will be considered as standalone pieces, rather than as a portfolio or series. This means that they may be submitted into different categories.

One overall winner will be selected as Open Photographer of the Year. Prizes include $5000 USD as well as Sony digital camera equipment. The winner will receive flights and accommodation to the Awards ceremony in London, where they’ll have their work included in the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House.

The winners of each category will receive a range of Sony digital imaging equipment and have their work physically displayed at the Awards Exhibition, alongside images from shortlisted photographers, which will be displayed on digital screens.

The deadline for the Open Competition is January 7th 2020, so you’ve got a couple of months left to get those entries in.

Professional Competition

The Professional Competition is free to enter and is also open to photographers of all skill levels. However, it is judged upon a photographer’s body of work, rather than single standalone images.

Photographers may enter a series of 5-10 images in the categories of Architecture, Creative, Discovery, Documentary, Environment, Landscape, Natural World & Wildlife, Portraiture, Still Life, and Sport.

Previous winners of the Professional Competition have had the opportunity for their work to be seen worldwide in exhibitions, received publishing deals and even obtained gallery representation.

The winner will be named Photographer of the Year and receive $25,000 USD in prize money, a range of Sony camera equipment as well as inclusion in the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition.

The winners of each category will receive flights and accommodation to the Awards ceremony in London, as well as a range of Sony camera equipment.

Shortlisted photographers will have their images displayed on digital screens at the Awards Exhibition.

The deadline for the Professional Competition is January 14th 2020.

#2.  ZEISS Photography Award

The ZEISS Photography Award is another exciting competition hosted by the World Photography Organisation. This contest is for photographers seeking to submit a body of work to a theme. In 2020, the brief is “Seeing Beyond – Discoveries”, which is aimed at exploring all types of discoveries, whether in the landscape, amongst human life, in science, politics or economics.

Best Photography Contests to Enter in 2020Winner of the 2019 Zeiss Photography Awards. Photo by: 'Rory Doyle'.

Photographers may submit 5-10 images for free and judging will be based upon the entire series. Submissions will be evaluated based upon creative visual storytelling technique and technical expertise.

Prizes include ZEISS camera lenses totalling €12,000, travel and photo project costs of €3,000, as well as flights and accommodation to attend the Sony World Photography Awards night and the Awards Exhibition in London. In addition to all of this, the winner will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the ZEISS factory in Germany, with the opportunity to collaborate with ZEISS on future projects.

The deadline for the ZEISS Photography Award is February 4th 2020.

#3.  iPhone Photography Awards

Smartphone camera technology has evolved so much over the years that it’s only fitting for there to be a photography contest specifically for images taken with an iPhone!

The iPhone Photography Awards was the world’s first iPhone photography competition. Established in 2007, it is now in its 13th year and if you take a look at some of the images that have been entered in the past, the quality is astounding.

The competition is open to photographers from all over the world for a small fee. All images must be taken with either an iPhone or an iPad, without having previously been published (though personal social media is allowed). While images may not be edited in Photoshop or other desktop programs, the use of iOS apps is acceptable.

There are no limits to the number of entries that you may submit. Categories include Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Children, Floral, Landscape, Lifestyle, Nature, News and Events, Panorama, People, Portrait, Series (of 3 images), Still Life, Sunset, Travel, Trees, and Other.

Prizes include the opportunity to be named IPPA Photographer of the Year, gold and palladium bars from the most recognisable private gold mint in the world. If that hasn’t got your attention, then we’re not sure what will. We bet all you Android users out there are kicking yourselves now!

The deadline for the iPhone Photography Awards is March 31st 2020, so get out there with your iPhone and start snapping something other than what you just ate for dinner!

#4.  Monochrome Awards

As you’ve probably guessed, the Monochrome Awards is an international black and white photography contest. This competition is in its 5th year and is one of the most prestigious awards that a photographer can receive for monochrome photography.

This competition is open to photographers of all skill levels for a fee of 25 USD single entry (Professional) and 20 USD (Amateur). There is no limit to the number of images that you may enter. Categories include Abstract, Architecture, Conceptual, Fashion / Beauty, Fine Art, Landscapes, Nature, Nude, Photojournalism, Photo Manipulation, Portrait, Street, and Wildlife.

While the competition is focused on black and white photography, toned images in sepia, selenium and the like are also accepted. Digital manipulation is also acceptable.

Prizes include up to $2000 cash, being named Monochrome Photographer of the Year (Professional), Monochrome Discovery of the Year (Amateur), as well as publication in the Monochrome Photography Awards Annual Book.

The deadline is November 17th 2019, so you’d better hurry up and get those entries in!

#5.  Fine Art Photography Awards

Here’s one for all the artists out there. You’ll be happy to know that the 6th edition of the Fine Art Photography Awards is currently in full swing, accepting entries from amateur photographers and professionals alike from all over the world.

Fine art photography is all about capturing images that evoke an emotional response and communicating strong messages to your audience, using any kind of photographic technique. This competition stands out from the rest because it’s all about your ability to push your limits as an artist with imagination and experimentation beyond traditional competition standards.

There are 20 categories, including Abstract, Architecture, Cityscape, Conceptual, Fashion Fine Art, Landscape, Nature, Night Photography, Nudes Open Theme, Panoramic, People, Photojournalism, Photo Manipulation Portrait, Seascape, Street Photography, Travel, and Wildlife / Animals.

A single entry for amateurs will set you back $20 USD, while entering a series will cost you $25 USD. Professional entry fees are $25 USD and $30 USD respectively.

Prizes include receiving the title of Professional Fine Art Photographer of the Year, Amateur Fine Art Photographer of the Year and $5000 USD in cash.

The deadline is February 9th 2020. Submit your photos now so you won’t miss out on the chance to participate in the first contest to celebrate fine art photography! 

#6.  Drone Awards

Are you a drone photographer? Aerial images have become a niche these days so what’s more fitting than to have a specialised competition for drone photography?

Best Photography Contests to Enter in 2020Drone photography has become more popular so it's just as well that there is a competition for it! Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.

The Drone Awards are not just for photographs taken with a drone. In fact, you can enter images from any platform of aerial photography, whether taken by fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter, hot air balloon, rocket, kite, parachute or whichever way you choose to fly up into the sky!

This competition is hosted by Art Photo Travel, a non-profit association that also organises the renowned Siena International Photo Awards. While there are no restrictions upon the number of times you can enter and the first entry is free, judging will be on single submissions only. As such, there’s no use sending in an entire series or portfolio of work, unless you want them to be evaluated individually.

Prizes include receiving the title of Drone Photographer of the Year, €500 of photography equipment, accommodation in Siena for the Awards Ceremony, as well as having your images showcased in an exhibition.

The competition opens on May 1st 2020 and the deadline for entries is June 15th 2020, so there’s still some time yet to get out there and fly.

#7.  Moscow International Foto Awards

Would you like to have your work seen internationally? The Moscow International Foto Awards is open to photographers worldwide, with the aim of introducing new talent to creative community in Russia.


The entry fee varies from $10 to $50 for professionals, emerging photographers, students and portfolios. Categories include Advertising, Architecture, Book, Editorial, Events, Fine Art, Nature, People, and Science. You can enter your photos into multiple categories and there are no restrictions on the number of images that you may submit.

Prizes include being named MIFA Photographer of the Year and New Talent of the Year, up to $3000 in cash and having your work exhibited in Moscow.

The deadline is 29th February 2020, so start getting those images ready!

#8.  Bird Photographer of the Year

Pssst. Are you into ‘birding’? Then the Bird Photographer of the Year contest is for you!

This competition celebrates bird photography from all around the world. It is open to photographers of all ages and skill levels using any type of camera – even a smartphone! 

Best Photography Contests to Enter in 2020Bird photographers should enter this exciting competition! Photo by: 'Iurie Belegurschi'.

You can submit a single image or even a series. There are eight categories, which include Best Portrait, Birds in the Environment, Attention to Detail, Bird Behaviour, Birds in Flight, Black and White, Garden and Urban Birds, and Creative Imagery.

The cost is based upon the number of images that you want to enter. There are a number of entry packages available ranging from £6 to £60, depending on the number of images and type of bird depicted in the photographs. It is free for young people aged under 18 to enter. There are some restrictions on digital manipulation, though this is made up for by the Creative Imagery category, where you can apply whatever digital photography techniques you would like to your heart’s delight.

The winner will take home a cash prize of £5,000. Other prizes on offer include Olympus camera equipment, binoculars from Swarovski Optik, outdoor clothing from Country Innovation, professional portfolio reviews and advice from Alamy, and a £1,500 travel voucher from Wildlife Worldwide. You’ll also have the opportunity to have your work printed in a coffee table book and to be involved in a travelling exhibition.

The deadline is November 30th 2019, so you haven’t got much time to get those entries in!

About the author:  Serena Dzenis is a landscape photographer based in Iceland. You can find more of her work on her website or by following her on Facebook and Instagram.

What are some of the photography contests that you’ve submitted your work to in the past? Have you ever won an award for an image that you took? We’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below!