Photo Contests, Photo Awards and Photo Grants

Photo contests and awards can bring exposure to a photographers work. However, many photo contests are nothing more than a mechanism for the host to collect entry fees while grabbing your rights. Many of the most prestigious awards have low or no entry fees.

The following is a growing list of reputable contests and/or awards that we believe are beneficial to serious photographers, and worth consideration.

Alexia Foundation Grants
The Alexia Foundation promotes the power of photojournalism to give voice to social injustice, to respect history lest we forget it and to understand cultural difference as our strength — not our weakness. Through grants and scholarships, The Alexia Foundation supports photographers as agents for change.


When: January

Eligibility: Pro: Any photographer may apply for this grant. Proposals that have received grants or awards exceeding $1,000 in the previous calendar year are not eligible. Student: Applicants must be duly enrolled full-time students in an accredited
college or university in the U.S. or abroad in a degree program at the
time of application.

Entry fee: none

Prizes: Professional Grant: $15,000; Student: Full tuition-scholarship (~$15,000)

Alicia Patterson Foundation Grants
The Alicia Patterson Foundation Program was established in 1965 in memory of Alicia Patterson, who was editor and publisher of Newsday for nearly 23 years before her death in 1963. One-year and six month grants are awarded to working journalists to pursue independent projects of significant interest and to write articles based on their investigations for The APF Reporter, a web published magazine by the Foundation and available on the web.

When: October 1
Eligibility: U.S. citizens who are fulltime print
journalists, or to non-U.S. citizens who work fulltime for U.S. print
publications, either in America or abroad.

Entry fee: none
Prizes: $40,000 full year grant; $20,000 six-month grant

Editorial Photographers Education Grants
Awards will be granted to each of seven outstanding full time photography students.

When: Mid-May
Eligibility: Eligible contestants must be enrolled in an
accredited, full time college photography program in the U.S. or Canada
during the 2008-2009 year, and previous winners are not eligible to win

Entry fee: none
Prizes: $1000 cash prize, ThinkTank Urban Disguise 30 camera bag, Blinkbid
Software, one year Livebooks:Edu subscription, one year PhotoShelter
standard account, and other prizes

Eugene Smith Fund
The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is presented annually to a photographer whose past work and proposed project, as judged by a panel of experts, follows the tradition of W. Eugene Smith’s concerned photography and dedicated compassion exhibited during his 45-year career as a photographic essayist.

When: End of May
Eligibility: Any visual journalist
Entry Fee: none
Prize: $30,000 grant

Ian Parry Scholarship

Ian Parry was a talented photojournalist at the beginning of his
career, when he was tragically killed whilst on assignment for The
Sunday Times in December 1989. Each year we hold a competition for photographers who are either
attending a full-time photography course or are under the age of 24.
Entrants must submit a portfolio of their work and a brief synopsis of
a project they would undertake if they won the scholarship. The prize
is £2,500 towards their assignment.

When: June 24, 2009 (and each year)
Eligibility: Students or pros under the age of 24
Entry Fee: none
Prize: £2500

Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography & Grants for Good

Heavyweight Getty Images sponsors two major grants for photojournalists. “We believe that photojournalism is a powerful tool for telling
compelling social, political and cultural stories. We also understand
that creating and managing world-class photography assignments requires
time, freedom, support and considerable resources.” The Grants for Good support a photographer’s work with a non-profit.

When: Editorial Grants: May 15; Grants for Good: April 15
Eligibility: Student or pros under the age of 30
Entry Fee:none
Prize: (5) $20,000 grants. (4) $5000 grants for student. (2) $15,000 Grants for Good

NPPA Monthly Clip Contest
The National Press Photographers Association hosts a monthly clip contest, and the winners are published in their News Photographer magazine. It is open to any NPPA members in good standing.

Monthly. Entries are typically due at the end of the first week.
Eligibility: Any NPPA member in good standing
Entry Fee: none

NPPA Best of Photojournalism
The National Press Photographers Association hosts a monthly clip
contest, and the winners are published in their News Photographer
magazine. It is open to any NPPA members in good standing.

End of April
Eligibility: Any visual journalist
Entry Fee: none

PhotoPhilanthropy is an organization created to promote, support and connect photographers to charitable organizations around the world. The PhotoPhilanthropy community is a place for photographers, photo enthusiasts and charitable organizations to come together – to network, to tell their stories, show their work, exchange ideas, find opportunities and financial support for their efforts.

When: October 31, 2009
Eligibility: Student, Amateur and Professional divisions
Entry Fee: none
Prize $5,000

The Missouri
School of Journalism has organized the Pictures of the Year
International contest for the past 66 years. It is one of the oldest
and most venerable of the photojournalism contests.

Any visual journalist
Entry Fee:

World Press Photo
World Press Photo aims to support professional press photography on a
wide international scale through contest, exhibitions and educational

When: Mid-January
Eligilibilty: Working photojournalists
Entry Fee: none
Prizes: €10,000 + camera equipment

Eddie Adams Workshop
The Eddie Adams Workshop is an intense four-day gathering of the top
photography professionals, along with 100 carefully selected students.
The photography workshop is tuition-free, and the 100 students are chosen based on the merit of their portfolios.

When: Late May each year
Eligibility: Students, Military photographers, or pros with less than 3 years of experience
Entry Fee: $45
Prize: 100 students will attend the tuition-free workshop each October

Sports Photography
SportsShooter Student Contest
Adorama Camera and present this rich learning environment, designed
specifically for students. Start off by entring your best “One Week’s
Work”, and you may end up having your portfolio reviewed by some of the
most respected photographers in the business. As if that isn’t enough,
one dedicated and talented student is going to end up winning the title
of Student Photographer of the Year, and take home
the outrageously cool Grand Prize: “The Essentials”, the tools to have
when you’re ready to start getting serious.

Current photo student at accredited institution and SportsShooter member
Entry Fee:
Nikon D300, MacBook Pro 15″, Aperture 2.0, Nikon 18-200mm, Nikon SB800, Think Tank Airport Security, and more

Travel Photography
Magnum Expression Award
Established by Magnum Photos and HP with the goal of raising awareness and inspiring change through photography.

Deadline September 30, 2009
Entry Fee:
$10,000 + HP Z3200 Printer

Macro Photography
Nikon Small World Photography

End of April each year
Anyone over the age of 18. Photos must be taken with a light microscope
Entry Fee:
$3000 top prize and other prizes available

PhotoShelter Local Grants
We’re looking for local organizations (or individuals) that are
helping keep the spirit of photography alive and vibrant in communities
everywhere.  We have a small budget for event sponsorships – $500 every
month – and can also provide speakers, prizes, discounts, judging
platforms for contest, and temporary group accounts for displaying a
group’s collective work.  Depending on your event needs and how strong
of a match it is for us, there are plenty of creative ways to get
PhotoShelter involved.

When: monthly
Eligilibity: Anyone organizing a photo-related event that benefits a local community
Entry fee: none
Prize: $500

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 6 comments for this article
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  3. Derek Galon at 6:24 pm

    Good list, but…
    these for some reason don’t include international competitions organized under patronage of such fine photo associations as PSA, RPS (Royal Photographic Society), GPU, IUP, FIAP and so on. These big associations are kind of warranty of high judging standards, fair rules, and overall top quality performance – as all salons getting their patronage need to adhere to strict rules and guides. They also give accepted photographers access to prestigious photo distinctions recognized in world of photography everywhere.

    On top of winning prestigious medals, other awards or cash – that is. There are many such contests, usually organized by well recognized photography clubs, galleries, etc.

    To mention just a few examples I would suggest checking:
    and many more.

    So, another way of finding good contests is to go to sites of these associations and check competitions which recveived their patronage.
    For example, check this page of Photographic Society Of America (PSA)

    you can Google other these organizations and find many really fine contests – worth entering more than some listed above… (I know it, I won many of them)
    All the best!

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