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║ 12 Great International Photo Contests you should enter in 2016

Photography Competitions

Amateur and professional photographers enter photography competitions for different reasons. Some look for recognition in the most important contests, some are looking to earn a bit of cashand others simply enter to learn and to have some fun! Most of us are actually after all of those.

One of the most important things that has helped me to create fine art images has been to enter photography competitions. In the early days of my photographic career, I entered a few photography club competitions, both in Spain and Australia. I submitted images that I loved but most of the times, they didn't do it well and I was wondering why… The process of selecting, entering competitions and failing has been (and still is) a great learning experience…

At that early stage in my photography career competitions were all about learning, they gave me the opportunity to look and analyse my work and to help me make good decisions about creating better images and better stories.

Once I entered a few camera club competitions, and I felt I knew what a good “competition picture” was I decided to enter some more prestigious contests such as the APPAs (Australian Professional Photography Awards). I love this competition and it is perhaps the one from which I have learnt the most in the past 5 years. In the APPAs you compete with your peers and other very talented photographers but what has really helped me is to go through the whole process of selecting, processing and printing. Listening to the judging process in a few competitions has been another way of learning what judges are looking for in an image.

These days I continue entering photography competitions to learn but I only enter a handful of them every year. I try to do so with the most prestigious ones as having your photographic efforts recognised by your peers is a great bonus to what is already a very rewarding and enjoyable process.

Which Contests to enter?

I have listed below my favourite international contests. In this list, I have only focused on landscape and travel photography.

Some of the most recognised competitions don’t allow a digital creative interpretation on the landscape and ask for the RAW file and minimal post-processing.  Other competitions allow for heavy manipulation following another side of photography that believes that landscape is something that can be interpreted and there are no limits on the creativity and post-processing techniques applied to an image.

As you probably know by now, I have no issues which either side. That means that when I am processing an image, sometimes I create two versions, one to enter competitions that don’t allow heavy post-processing and another more creative image for competitions that do.

Veolia BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This is the 'big daddy' of all wildlife photo contests. If you win this one you can justifiably claim that your wildlife photo is the best in the world (at least for a year). There are a number of categories to enter your pictures into. This competition carries real weight in the wildlife photography industry and it is co-owned by the prestigious Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide. It now receives entries from around 100 countries across the globe. 

Sony World Photography Awards 2014

This prestigious competition enables photographers of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels a chance to score themselves global media coverage as well as incredible prizes. There are 10 diverse categories to enter from action to travel, where creativity remains the key ingredient to each. 

Travel Photographer of the Year

Another great competition which is a must for photographers who are serious about getting worldwide recognition for their travel images. The categories are sure to inspire you and fit your best work.

Nature’s Best - Windland Smith Rice International Awards

Launched in 1996 at the Washington D.C. National Zoo, the Nature's Best Photography International Awards is now an endowed exhibition program at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The Category Winners and a selection of the Highly Honored images from the annual Awards competition are showcased as large-format prints along with accompanying HD videos. 

National Geographic Photo Contest

Every year photographers from around the globe share photographs that transport us to another place, connect with us emotionally, or stir us to action. The official categories are People, Places, and Nature. Who does not want to win a National Geographic competition?! 

National Geographic Traveller Photo Contest

The 2015 Traveler Photo Contest judges reviewed nearly 18,000 photographs, and ten pictures won top prizes. Photographers entered pictures into four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments. 

GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This is probably the second most important wildlife and nature competition in Europe and attracts many photographers from all over the world. I have entered the competition once and when the judging finishes they send you an email that tells you what phase of the competition did you make it and with which images.

Hipa Awards

The HIPA awards is an international photographic award, founded in 2011 under the patronage of crown prince of Dubai sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid bin Mohammed al Maktoum. The annual total prize money is $400,000, the largest monetary prize among photographic awards in the world!!. The award is open to anyone and I believe that it is actually free to enter. I have never entered this competition but given the prizes, I should give it a go one day!

IPA (International Photography Awards)

The Lucie Awards is the premiere annual event honoring the greatest achievements in photography. The International Photography Awards conducts an annual competition for professional, non-professional, and student photographers on a global scale, creating one of the most ambitious and comprehensive competitions in the photography world today.


MontPhoto opens to amateurs and professionals from all around the world. It is a Spanish competition that has been running for 19 years and their mission has been to contribute to the environmental defence. The contest rewards the excellence in the photographs. Judges want to see innovating and inspiring images. MontPhoto bets for respect towards Nature; this is the reason why the images presented to the contest must reflect with fidelity the natural nature situations, respecting the originality of the scenery, the conservation of the live beings in their habitat, avoiding their suffering, the perturbation or the interferences in their behaviour.


The "Prix de la Photographie, Paris" (Px3) strives to promote the appreciation of photography, to discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. Selection of work from this competition are displayed in Paris and published in Px3 Annual Book. I have only entered this competition once. I found about PX3 when I was in Europe last year and it is definitely one of the most prestigious competitions in Europe. 

Global Artic Awards

For those of you who like traveling to the coldest, deeply frozen Earth regions such as Iceland, Lofoten (Norway) and the Artic this is a great competition to enter. The purpose of the Global Arctic Awards contest is to show the magnificence of the diverse North and Arctic world through the photo art. The contestants works will represent the beautiful variety of the North nature and wildlife, depict the peculiarities of the “icy” world of the Arctic, and narrate unforgettable photo stories about the culture, life and centuries-old customs of the North minorities.

Golden Turtle international Wildlife Contest

The Golden Turtle includes various creative competitions aimed at identifying the best works and projects demonstrating the beauty and harmony of wild nature. The first wildlife photo contest "Golden Turtle" was held in 2006, and in 2010 officially became an international photo contest. I have never entered this competition but it is another great one to consider. 

12 Great International Photo Contests you should enter in 2016

Landscape Photography Travel Photography Wildlife Photography
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