Photography contests are everywhere these days, and there are many reasons for you to exhibit your work. Your photographs will reach a broader and more diverse audience. You receive feedback from professional photographers and the public. And you may even win a prize.

But it matters how and where you exhibit your photographs. For example, you should look for a photo competition with a jury of renowned photographers and experts. Or for online photo contests that protect copyrights and keep your photos safe. To make sure you choose the photo competition that deserves to host your work, check out the following ten photography contests to try in 2023.

1. VIEWBUG Photo Contests

VIEWBUG is an online photography community that aims to help you interact with fellow photographers and exhibit your work. They host online photo contests and challenges all year, so you don’t have to worry about meeting deadlines.

VIEWBUG competitions target all photographic genres and expertise levels. Whether you prefer to photograph landscapes, babies, or travel moments, you will find a contest to fit your subject matter of choice. Furthermore, many contests have a general approach (e.g., photo of the month), allowing you to submit your best work at the moment. With VIEWBUG, you don’t have to wait a year to complete a competition. There is a continuous flow of contests that motivates you to keep taking photographs.

What’s exciting about VIEWBUG is that they challenge you to be creative. Some of their contests have a theme that asks for more than a particular subject matter. Have you ever considered photographing something pink or made of plastic? Have you tried focusing on textiles or taking an imaginative picture of your coffee? Now is the time to do it. Thus, VIEWBUG is more than a place for photo contests. It’s a place for finding inspiration.

Pros of joining VIEWBUG:

  • It offers a broad range of photo contests for all skill levels.
  • You can access many contests for free.
  • Premium membership is affordable.
  • You'll level up your photography skills, get exposure, and access premium photo competitions.
  • World-leading brands host contests on ViewBug regularly. Expect some really hot prizes.

2. NaturViera – International Nature and Environment Photography Contest

NaturViera is a photo contest designed to bring together nature photographers and reveal the world's beauty. It is organized by the Department of Environment and Tourism of the City Council of Los Realejos in Tenerife, Canary Islands, in homage to the polygraph José Viera y Clavijo (1731 – 1813).

The contest is open to everyone who loves nature photography, whether a hobbyist, beginner, or professional photographer. The contest aims to cultivate respect for nature and raise environmental awareness. Therefore, your focus should be on environmental issues, nature's uniqueness, and our planet's beauty.

NaturViera includes seven categories: Birds in their natural environment, Nature and living beings in their environment, Nocturnal landscape, Landscapes of the world, Natural Canaries, Sports in nature, and a particular category for photographers under 18 years of age.

Pros: Great for those who love landscape, nature, and travel photography.

Cons: It may not interest those who prefer portraits, street, and other photography styles.

3. CEWE Photo Award

Under the motto “Our world is beautiful,” CEWE Photo Award invites amateur and professional photographers to celebrate the beauty surrounding us. The competition has reached the 5 edition and grows larger and larger each year. It benefits from the patronage of the German Association of Photography, the Austrian Association of Photography, and many other European photo associations.

CEWE Photo Award has ten categories: Sports, Cooking and Food, Architecture and Technology, Hobby and Leisure, Nature, Landscapes, People, Animals, Aerial Photos, and Travel and Culture. It’s impossible not to find a category that matches your photographs. Furthermore, before knowing whether you win or not, top photos are chosen and exhibited on the competition’s website. So if you want recognition, having a photo on the CEWE Photo Award wall of fame is not a small thing.

Also, you can use any aesthetic you like. The competition admits color photographs, black-and-white compositions, and post-processed images. The only rule is for the image to have at least 1,080 x 1,080 pixels and less than 22MB.

Pros: CEWE Photo Award is inclusive, popular, and within reach.

Cons: There is no delimitation between amateur and professional photographs. It is the biggest photo contest in Europe, so the competition is fierce.

4. Felix Schoeller Photo Award

Felix Schoeller Photo Award is a photography competition for emerging artists. The competition is open to professional photographers and young photographic talent since 2013. Every two years, you are invited to submit your work in one of the four categories: Portrait, Photojournalism, Sustainability, and Best Work by an Emerging Photographer.

Felix Schoeller Photo Award requires the highest image quality standards. You have to submit between three and five of your best photographs and ensure you respect the concept of the category you choose. Furthermore, you should focus on storytelling and present a striking visual story that conveys a strong message and impresses the audience. Felix Schoeller Photo Award is a competition for purposeful photography.

The Chairman of the jury is renowned portrait photographer Michael Dannenmann. The jury is completed by professors, photographers, art advisors, and curators. A win at Felix Schoeller Photo Award is something you add to your CV.

Pros: The competition requests high-quality, meaningful photographs that will boost your portfolio and bring you recognition.

Cons: It is a high-end competition that targets only professional photographers and art students.

5. Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

Lockdown but not disconnected
19TH ANNUAL SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE PHOTO CONTEST
Grand Prize Winner © Sinsee Ho

If you are looking for annual photo contests for portraiture, look no more. Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is one of the most prestigious. If you are among the winners or selected artists, your photographs will be exhibited in an art gallery (Cromwell Place, South Kensington, London, UK) and online. The 2020 exhibition had 135,000 viewers.

While the competition admits a single photographic genre (portraits), it invites photographers of all backgrounds and experiences. The photographs are judged anonymously, and winners and selected artists have revealed only after the judging process is over.

You can enter up to six photographs, either individual portraits or a photo series. But be aware that the competition has high standards. Portraits mean much more than pictures of people. To be eligible, you must capture their individuality, personality, and attitude.

Pros: Awarded and selected photographs are exhibited in an art gallery and online for a few months after the end of the competition.

Cons: It addresses a single photographic genre.

6. Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest 

Organized by Smithsonian Magazine, this photo contest brings you one step closer to publishing your photographs and letting the entire world see them. The Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest has 20 years of history and summarizes almost 500 000 photographs in six categories: Natural World, Travel, People, The American Experience, Artistic, and Drone/Aerial.

Featured photographs are displayed on the magazine’s website alongside winner photographs of the last editions. You not only have the chance to exhibit your work, but you also get to see the work of other photographers and what gear they use. And all that is on the website of the magazine of the Smithsonian Institution, an organization responsible for 21 museums and nine research centers.

The winners of each category are selected by the magazine staff. Therefore, be aware of the media quality of your photographs. You want to submit impactful photographs worthy of publishing in a prestigious magazine.

Pros: The contest offers a public display and a large audience.

Cons: It addresses a limited range of photographic genres and requires a high media value.

7. Shining a Light International Photography Contest

“Shining a Light” International Photography Contest addresses social issues and raises awareness of human rights and social justice. It’s a competition for documentary photographers, photojournalists, portraiture artists, and people involved in their communities.

This year’s edition focuses on women in prison. The competition encourages you to look at how incarceration affects women, health problems, issues concerning motherhood, hardships of adjusting to life after prison, and other related topics. You can submit one or more documentary-style photographs.

The competition gives you a free hand in choosing the photographic genre, aesthetic, and technique. Here, the story is more important than the looks. It doesn’t matter if you are an amateur or professional. It doesn’t matter if you have one good image on the topic or more. All that matters are the message, the power of connecting subjects and viewers, and the ability to reveal the story behind the image.

Pros: The contest allows you to do something that matters beyond your personal gain.

Cons: “Shining a Light” International Photography Contest focuses on a single theme yearly.

8. Xposure International Photography & Film Awards

International Photography & Film Awards invites photographers of all backgrounds and experiences to enter the competition. Furthermore, it has a special category for filmmakers. So if you work with more than one medium, you are free to challenge your creativity in multiple areas.

The competition has eight categories: Architectural, Drone, Landscape, Photojournalism, Portraiture, Short Film & Moving Image, Street, and Wildlife. You can enter up to 10 images into any category, but ensure your photographs are taken in the last three years, have a long dimension of at least 2,700 pixels, and are saved at 300 dpi. The organizer is looking for high-quality images suitable for public display and printing.

In two rounds, your photographs will be judged based on overall impact and artistic merit, technical quality, composition, and effectiveness in expressing the category theme.

Pros: Xposure International Photography & Film Awards is open to professionals and amateurs and includes many photographic genres.

Cons: The judging process isn’t entirely transparent, and you don’t know who the judges are.

9. Sony World Photography Awards

Sony World Photography Awards has reached its 16th edition. It includes four photo competitions, each addressing a different category of photographers (Professional, Open, Student, and Youth). By separating established photographers from emerging artists, Sony World Photography Awards provides equal chances, inclusivity, and transparency.

To enter the Professional category, photographers have to submit a short photo series (between 5 and 10 photographs) that relates to one of ten themes: Architecture & Design, Creative, Documentary Projects, Environment, Landscape, Portraiture, Portfolio, Wildlife & Nature, Still Life, and Sport.

For the Open category, you only need to submit one image taken in 2023. The themes, however, are slightly different than the ones for the Professional category (Architecture, Creative, Motion, Landscape, Lifestyle, Natural World & Wildlife, Object, Portraiture, Street Photography, and Travel).

For the Youth category, young photographers under 19 can present their everyday life in three images. And students are welcome on a special platform to exhibit a project related to the theme “In a Changing World.” The competition supports not only creativity but also interaction, growth, and access to education.

Pros: Sony World Photography Awards allows you to exhibit outstanding single photographs and long-term photo projects.

Cons:

10. Prix Virginia

The Prix Virginia is a photo contest designed especially for women photographers. It’s been taking place every two years since 2012 as an encouragement to women of all ages and experiences to embrace photography and visual arts. Founded by the Association Sylvia S., the contest brings together an expert jury that includes photography professors, editors, and the president and founder of the Prix Virginia in Paris, Sylvia Schildge.

You can submit photographs of any genre and style. The only rule, other than the photographer being a woman, is to submit photographs never exhibited in France or part of an editorial project. The jury’s choices are exhibited on the contest’s website until the next edition, bringing you to the public attention.

Pros: The Prix Virginia has an expert jury that provides valuable feedback and encourages artistic expression.

Cons: The contest only allows women photographers.


Frequently Asked Questions.

Q: What is the best photography contest in 2023?

A: In 2023, the best photography contest you can try is VIEWBUG. The online photography community opens the door to amateurs and professionals, encouraging dialog, growth, and creativity. Their photo contests focus on a diverse range of subject matters and photo techniques.
Furthermore, you can enter annually as VIEWBUG continuously hosts competitions and challenges. Your photographs receive feedback and votes. You can discuss them with your peers and exchange photo gear tips and techniques. With tens of photo contests going on at the moment, online editing tools, and online portfolios, VIEWBUG is the place to showcase your photographs in 2023.

Q: What photography competitions are currently running?

A: Photography competitions take place all the time. You'll find at least a dozen open photo contests on VIEWBUG at any given moment. Most other annual photo competitions have a few months timelines (submission, approving, judging, and awarding). However, you can find photo contest websites that host competitions with short timelines and have something going on at any time. Based on your expertise level and preferred photographic genre, you can choose to enter a single contest or join multiple competitions at the same time.

Q: Are photo contests worth it?

A: Yes. Photo contests are worth it because they provide access to feedback and public display. Furthermore, you can learn from your mistakes and become a better photographer with each participation.
Many established photographers were discovered during a photo competition even if they didn’t win it. Someone saw their photographs and trusted their potential. Therefore, time spent preparing for a photo contest is an investment in your future as a photographer.