Photo Contests: Is your photography good enough?

There are actually quite a few photo contests around the world today. Have you ever thought of entering a photo contest? If your photography seems to be on par with winning photos, here are some tips for entering a photo contest:

2020 Sony World Photo Contest winner. © Gil Kreslavsky, Israel, Shortlist, Open, Culture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Below are some standard rules that you can tweak as needed depending on your unique photo contest: 

All photos must be original work, taken by the entrants. No third party may own or control any materials the photo contains, and the photo must not infringe upon the trademark, copyright, moral rights, intellectual rights, or rights of privacy of any entity or person. In other words, the photo you enter better be your own, or you could run into some serious problems, legally.

Winner – Culture
Title: Mark 5:28
Photographer: Antoine Veling, Australia
‘When audience members were invited on stage to dance at an Iggy Pop concert in Sydney Opera House, Australia, on 17 April 2019, it showed the warm welcome Aussies extend to overseas artists who travel long distances to reach them.       
‘A woman’s outstretched arm lunges to touch Iggy. He seems unaware of her approach as the crowd presses around him. One of Iggy’s assistants, Jos (in the grey checked shirt) tries to make some space around Iggy. The scene is reminiscent of a passage from the Bible: ‘Because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”’ (Mark 5:25-34, line 28). The image has been likened to religious paintings by Caravaggio, and his chiaroscuro technique. It went crazy on social media, making 40,000 people, including Iggy Pop, very happy.’

Here is a list of rules that usually required:

  • The photo must be in its original state and cannot be altered in any way, including but not limited to removing, adding, reversing, or distorting subjects within the frame.
  • Violators will be removed from the contest, stripped of any prize(s), and banned from entering future contests.
  • Entries will not be accepted unless submitted via the official contest channel. Entries not submitted through the proper channel will be deleted.
  • Entries will be judged by the [Company]. All decisions are final. The Company reserves the right to disqualify any entry that is deemed inappropriate or does not conform to stated contest rules.
  • By entering the contest, entrants agree that photos submitted can be used by the [Company] for advertising purposes.
  • Submissions will not be accepted once the deadline lapses.
  • The prize must be collected by the winner and is nontransferable.
  • The winner will be contacted via the email address provided during entry. If no response is received after [three] business days, a new winner will be selected and the previous winner will forfeit all rights to the prize.
  • The contest is void where prohibited or restricted by law.
  • If you’re using entry forms like those offered by Submittable, you can include language at end of the form asking entrants to confirm that they have read the rules and regulations by clicking the submit button.
© Guofei Li, China, Winner, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards
Winner – Natural World & Wildlife
Title: Tai Chi Diagram
Photographer: Guofei Li, China
‘These cheetahs had just eaten an antelope, and were licking the bloodstains off each other’s faces. It’s a very rare posture, and one that reminded me of the traditional Chinese Tai Chi diagram. The picture was taken in Botswana in January 2019.’

Have I ever entered and won a photo contest? Why, yes I have. I have entered the local county fair one year, and was already working for a photo store and had pretty good knowledge of what they might be looking for, and took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

Then, at some point, I was asked to be a judge for a photo contest. The rules were already laid out, so, I, along with another photographer, judged the contest. Now, that was tougher than I thought, because they had professionals enter the contest as well, and when we did not vote on a particular persons photo, he registered a complaint with the people who sponsored the photo contest, saying we did not know what we were doing, because, it was obvious to him, he should have won.

So, the point to this is that there will be people, always, thinking they should have won the prize, when in reality, they are no where close to winning.

© Manfred Voss, Germany, Shortlist, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards
Shortlisted – Travel
Title: Graceful
Photographer: Manfred Voss
‘The small fishing village of Reine in Norway delivers one of the most beautiful views in the Lofoten archipelago. The balance between the cool light of blue hour and the warmth of the well-lit houses was perfect on this particular morning. It was almost windless, resulting in a beautiful reflection of the mountain in the water. I opted for an exposure that balanced the blue hour with the slightly illuminated mountains and the nice light from the houses.’

I entered an international contest as well, going against all the people in the world, with close to 10,000 entrants, and I ended up in third place. I won (now this goes back a long time ago) a Vivitar darkroom projector. I did not have a dark room, so, I sold the prize. But, the recognition was cool, because I saw them using my photo in some of their advertising.

I would love it, if my readers entered contests, and shared their results with us.

Here is a list of 20 photo contests for the year 2021:

Note: You can click on the one that interests you, and it will take you to their page. Try it.

© Muriel Vekemans, Belgium, Shortlist, Open, Motion, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards
Shortlisted – Motion
Title: End of the Race
Photographer: Muriel Vekemans, Belgium
‘This greyhound was training for a race. As it headed to the finish, I was waiting for it with my face in the sand.’

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 some more winning photos:

Max Foster from Plymouth, Minn.
Yosemite National Park – Glowing Half Dome behind Yosemite Falls

Manoj Shah
Nairobi, Kenya

You can almost feel the earth tremble with the massive footsteps of an African elephant as it returns home with its herd after drinking at a marsh in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. Photographer Manoj Shah placed his remote camera on the ground where he thought the elephants would pass, then tripped the shutter while staying a safe distance away. “If I tried to take the picture lying down, most likely I would not be able to get up again,” he quips. A lifelong photographer, Shah speaks almost mystically about his quest to document this majestic species in decline. “My daughter worries that the elephant will be just a memory, a dream where they will walk on Earth at peace, as they were born to do, but kept alive only in our minds.” Moved by the animal’s power and frailty, he warns, “Their future is in our hands.”

One of the contest enties: Vadim Trunov, won this photo of the curious birds.


While we have winter going on in most of the northern half of the world, let’s put a collection together of amazing winter photos. I will admit, I am not one who likes the cold, but, I love it when it snows so I can go add winter photos to my collections. Enjoy:

house field and tree covered with snow near body of water
Photo by Luca Chiandoni on
grayscale photo of tree on a snow covered field
Photo by Todd Trapani on
pink leaved tree during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on
photo of siberian husky
Photo by Kateryna Babaieva on
landscape photo of mountain filled with snow
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on
snowy forest
Photo by Pixabay on
white and black bird on tree branch
Photo by Erik Karits on
field covered with snow during sun rise
Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on
photo of reindeer in the snow
Photo by Annika Thierfeld on
snowy field near trees under golden hour
Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on
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Photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography. Originally done in color, but this was changed to black and white. Black and white looks better, I think.
snow covering pine tree
Photo by Jill Wellington on
bare trees surrounding house
Photo by Tiziano Pedrini on
Fog in Bear Lake Valley, Utah. Photo taken by Lanny Cottrell photography
mountain cover by snow
Photo by stein egil liland on
photo of snow field near trees
Photo by Burak K on
Photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography
time lapse photography of curved road with vehicles passing
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on
person wearing gray and white socks near brown fireplace
Photo by Taryn Elliott on
photo of deer on snowfield
Photo by Louis on
red fruit handing on tree branch selective color photography
Photo by Pixabay on
Photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography
depth of field photography of ice shards
Photo by Kevin Blanzy on
photo of orange trees
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on
Photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography
This inspirational photo, along with many others is available for sale now at
Another one of the inspirational photos for sale at Use the coupon above to save $5.


Some of the best photos that most people like to view are those photos that were achieved by being in the right place at the right time. I have often felt like: I wish I could get a few of those special “timings”. That is not as tough as it seems, because a lot of the moments you already know are going to happen. For example, say you want to get a photo of the best sunset ever. What does it take to get the best photo of a sunset:

1- Be at a good place when the sun sets

2- Have your camera ready for the perfect shot

3- Take several photos of the sunset to see which one you like the best

4- Be prepared that it might not be the best. So, what do you do?

two person on boat in body of water during golden hour
Photo by Johannes Plenio on
Come back again to this same place and wait. Then repeat the above steps.

Another thing to think about is the ocean tides. You may spend quite some time to get the perfect photo of the waves that you want, but, that is what makes a good photograph – Great. But, watch the waves, the tide, and then wait and shoot a lot of photos to get the perfect photo.

person surfing
Photo by Pixabay on

Another way to get your lucky photo is at a ski resort, if you live close to one. Go up to the slopes, watch the people from the top of the hill and then, with your camera, you follow their every move, taking a lot of photos. Remember, the pictures you don’t want, you can delete. So, take a lot of photos.

man doing ice skiing on snow field in shallow focus photography
Photo by Visit Almaty on

Another thing you can do to create the perfect timing is to go downtown, and get some scenes that you create that are different.

timing tips for street photography
A standard early morning image of Big Ben along Westminster Bridge. If we take the time to wait, we can catch a bus!
timing tips for street photography
The bus makes the image just a bit different.

Another interesting photo you could create, make your own timing is to try your hand at “street photography”. Go downtown, to the big town, and hang around busy areas for a while. The most photographed people that tell a story is often the homeless.

man person people old
Photo by Pixabay on

Ask these people first if you can take their picture, and tell them you will make a copy for them, if they let you take their photo. They usually won’t mind. They won’t understand why you want a photo of them. But, these people have had a hard life, and to have someone treat them nice is a reward for them. But, I find that if you offer them a free photo, they will appreciate it so much.

Another photo that the timing is important is waiting for the perfect clouds. Cloudy days, generally, do not produce the best photos, but, the ones that are the best are the ones where there is sky and clouds. They just make the best photos possible. And you might have to take several photos to get this right on.

green tall trees with view of mountain and sun peeking through
Photo by Pixabay on
My favorite photos may change dramatically with clouds. Photo by Lanny Cottrell

With the photo above, I know I was taking pictures of the amazing autumn colors, but, then the clouds were there, and it turned out to be an amazing fall scene. Pick your day to watch for the best clouds. Usually right after a storm, they are more broken up than before or during a storm. If it storms, then find out when it’s suppose to be over, then plan your trip to be there at the right time, and get the photos that will look the best.


Timing is everything. And you can create your own timing. Just plan for these events so you can find your own timing.


silhouette of a boy playing ball during sunset
Photo by manu mangalassery on
person in spiderman costume
Photo by Life of Wu on
light streak photography of city street
Photo by Mohamed Almari on