Cast aside the usual New Year’s resolutions of hitting the gym and set your sights on a thrilling quest on a photographic journey.

Exhibiting your photography in a solo exhibition or in a competition is an enriching undertaking for both emerging and established photographers. It offers a unique opportunity to share your vision with a wider audience, allowing them to connect with your work on a personal level.

Showcasing your photographs can lead to valuable exposure, potentially opening doors to new collaborations and professional opportunities as it exposes your work to picture editors, art directors and curators. It also provides a platform for feedback, which can be instrumental to one’s artistic development.

We curated a comprehensive selection of photo competitions catering to various interests and skill levels. We split the list into two – open internationally and those only available to Australians.

International

Head On Photo Awards

Cheekily putting ourselves first, Australia’s most prestigious photography competition, Head On Photo Awards (open for entries internationally), is one of the world’s leading photo competitions. Based on the belief that all artists are entitled to equal opportunities regardless of their pedigree, our judges do not see the creators’ names, ensuring that the winning works are selected on merit alone.

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1854 Awards (British Journal of Photography)

They run several open call thought-out the year such as Portrait of Humanity and Female in focus and Arles open walls

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Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards

One of the more unique photography contests with prizes including a mentorship with Rankin and 4 week residence with Simon Wheatley at Abby road studio.

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All about photo.com Awards

They run several open calls during the year featuring genres of photography.

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Getty Images Grants

Not strictly a contest, this program awards grants to photographers working on impactful documentary projects. It’s a great opportunity for photographers to receive funding and exposure for their work.

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Hasselblad Masters

This competition features six categories; Landscape, Architecture, Portrait, Street, Art and Project.

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Alain Schroeder
2023 Head On Environmental Awards winner

Kuala Lumpur International Photo awards

Annual global portrait photography prize seeking the very best and fresh entries from photographers of all levels.

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LensCulture Photography Awards

They run several open calls during the year featuring photography genres.

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ND Awards

Annual photo awards spanning several genres with both professional and non-professional divisions

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New York Times Portfolio Review

A cornerstone of photographic events in the United States, the review serves as a platform for the photographic community to showcase their work, exchange ideas, collaborate, and enjoy the process.

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Paris International Street Photo Awards

Exclusively dedicated to street photography, offering various subcategories to cater to specific styles and approaches.

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Prix Pictet

A thematic competition that focuses on contemporary sustainability challenges. Each year has a different theme, and the 2024 theme is “Hope.”

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Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

Renowned competition for portrait photography.

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The comedy Wildlife photography awards

The motto is conservation though competition as a funny animal photo is incredibly effective as there are no barriers to understanding.

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We would have included World Press photo and Wildlife photography of the year, but entries closed very early 2024 so keep an eye out for them in early 2025.

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David Cossini
2023 Head On Portrait Awards winner

Australian

Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year

Showcases the best nature photography from Australia and New Zealand.

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Australian Life

Australian Life is looking for engaging and intriguing photos that depict Australia beyond the icons.

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Australian Photography Photographer of the Year

Largest photo competition for amateur photographers in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Bowness Photography Prize

The prize is open, with no thematic restrictions and past finalists have included both established and emerging photographers, art and commercial photographers.

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Capture Magazine Awards

Offers various awards for photographers of all levels across Australia and New Zealand. Deadline for entries varies depending on the award.

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Talia Greis
2023 Head On Landscape Awards winner

Martin Kantor Portrait Prize

Biennial portrait photo award as part of Ballarat International Foto Biennale. Next run in 2025.

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Mono Awards

Open to photographers worldwide, with categories for people, places, and animals. Deadline for entries is February to May 2024.

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National Photographic Portrait Prize

The National Photographic Portrait Prize is run by and exhibited in Canberra’s National Portrait Gallery. It is selected from a national field of entries and reflects the distinctive vision of Australia’s aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects.

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Olive Cotton Award

Biannual portrait contest. Next run in 2025.

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It feels like there are more and more photo contests every year, to the point it is overwhelming to keep up with. Thats why sites like photo contest insider  is a great resource to explore what is closing soon.

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Head On Portrait Award 2023 – Dean Sewall

Bonus: Four questions to ask yourself before entering

We are all on unique paths and seeking different kinds of opportunities. To determine if participating in the photo awards contest aligns with your core principles and goals, it’s important to ask yourself these four key questions.

  1. Is it worth entering? This is a personal question and varies depending on what you are looking for. As an example, your local council runs a free to enter contest for people who live in the area. The prize is to have the photo included in the Annual calendar that gets given to everyone in the community along with your name and business name.
    1. What if the council sold the calendar to raise money for a charity? What if they paid each finalist $250
    2. What if once selected you needed to pay an additional $100 to help get the calendar printed and distributed?
    3. What if there are only 50 entries? What if there are 40,000?
  2. Do I keep the copyright of my photos? In the terms and conditions check if they want copyright of your photo or a License. If they require copyright that is a red flag, and you should consider not entering. Also check if it applies to every photo entered or just the photo is selected as a finalist/winner. Most contests will require a License agreement with you that allows them to use your photo if selected as a finalist to use it to promote that contest for a specific time period.
  3. Am I eligible? Always read the full T&C’s. As you do these are the 4 things that can trip people up and are worth checking
    1. Does your work fit within the broad definition of the category.
    2. Is there a time or location where the photo needs to be taken within?
    3. Are you in the correct demographic?
    4. Can a previously published photo be entered?
  4. Are the organisers reputable?
    1. Have they been running the Awards for a long time?
    2. How are the winners selected? With or without names?
    3. Who selects the winners?
    4. Are you able to contact them?
    5. Do they get media attention?
    6. Are they well known in the local community?
    7. Is there a printed exhibition/book for Finalists work?

Remember, the most important prizes go beyond trophies and cash. It’s the journey of pushing your boundaries, growing as an artist, and sharing your vision with the world.

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Festival submissions open now

Submit your work to be considered for solo or group exhibitions in Head On Photo Festival 2024

Image detail: Matthew Newton