05 December 2019

December's Photography Grants and Awards

05 December 2019 - Written by Simon Hall

2019 may be winding down to its conclusion but the photography award season is just getting started, with the acclaimed World Press Photo Contests, Aperture Portfolio Prize, and ZEISS Photography Award all open for entries this month. Learn how they can support the development of your work and career.

World Press Photo Contest / Registration Deadline: 9 January; Submission Deadline: 14 January / No entry fee

© Catalina Martin-Chico, from the series Colombia (Re)Birth. 2019 World Press Photo of the Year nominee

The annual World Press Photo Contest rewards photographers for the best single exposure pictures that have contributed significantly to visual journalism over the past 12 months. The WPPh Foundation says that whether work is entered as singles or stories, the pictures are considered in terms of their accurate, fair, and visually compelling insights about our world.

Photographers are invited to submit work into eight different categories, namely Contemporary Issues, Environment, General News, Long-Term Projects, Nature, Portraits, Sports, and Spot News. The judging process this year – to be chaired by Lekgetho Makola, head of the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg – will involve four specialised juries and a general jury comprised of leading professionals in the photojournalism industry. Together they will make their selection based upon a combination of news values, journalistic standards, the photographer's creativity and visual skills, and the edit of the submitted material.

All the contest winners will share a prize pot totalling more than €130,000 in value, with the winners of the World Press Photo of the Year and World Press Photo Story of the Year awards each receiving €10,000 as well as return airfare and hotel accommodation for travel to Amsterdam during the World Press Photo Festival in April 2020. The collection of prize-winning photographs will be assembled in a year-long travelling exhibition that takes in 45 countries and 100 cities. Entrants must register on the contest website by 9 January (12 midday CET), while the final submission deadline is 14 January (12 midday CET). To learn more and apply, go to

World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest / Deadline: 14 January / No entry fee

© Univision News Digital. The Legacy of the ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy: Traumatized Children With No Access to Treatment. 2019 World Press Photo Online Video of the Year.

The World Press Photo Foundation launched its Multimedia Contest in 2011, renamed the Digital Storytelling Contest in 2016, as a way to draw attention to the diversity of formats made possible by digital platforms and the constant developments in documentary film and interactive storytelling. The competition is open to digital storytellers, visual journalists, producers, and entry coordinators with submissions that include the work of a professional visual journalist.

The jury this year – chaired by Zoeann Murphy, a visual journalist on staff at The Washington Post – will award productions based on three defined categories: Interactive (a visual story or project in a form other than video, which through its design creates an immersive and/or innovative experience for the user); Long (a single linear narrative, or series of linear narratives, on a single topic, produced as a video for the web lasting no longer than 30 minutes); and Short (a single linear narrative, produced as a video for the web, lasting no longer than 10 minutes). All entries must include photography and/or film in combination with, but not limited to, animation, graphics, illustrations, sound or text.

To help put a spotlight on relevant issues facing society today, the WPPh Foundation will grant two headline prizes, namely the World Press Photo Interactive of the Year and the World Press Photo Online Video of the Year, both of which carry a monetary award of €10,000. Three nominees in each of the three categories will also be invited to the World Press Photo Festival in Amsterdam, with a representative from each production having their travel and lodging paid for by the WPPh Foundation. The contest website closes for entries on 14 January (12 midday CET). Further information can be found at

Aperture Portfolio Prize / Deadline: 23 January / No entry fee

© Ka-Man Tse. 2018 Aperture Portfolio Prize winner

The Aperture Portfolio Prize is an international competition founded upon the aim of identifying trends in contemporary photography and highlighting artists whose work deserves greater recognition. The jury – comprised of Aperture’s experienced editorial and curatorial staff – will be specifically looking for bodies of work that have yet to be seen in major publications or exhibition venues. Chris Boot (Executive Director), Annette Booth (Director of Exhibitions Management), Brendan Embser (Managing Editor of Aperture Magazine), Michael Famighetti (Editor of Aperture Magazine), Nicole Acheampong (Editorial Assistant of Aperture Magazine), Taia Kwinter (Managing Editor of the Book Program), Lesley A. Martin (Creative Director), and Denise Wolff (Senior Editor of Books) are among the panel this year.

The first prize winner will have their work published in Aperture Magazine and will receive a US$3,000 cash prize and a solo exhibition in New York. The winner and up to four runners up will also be featured in an online gallery on and may also be presented with an opportunity to participate in the Aperture Foundation limited edition print program. The submission deadline is 23 January. Visit for additional information.

ZEISS Photography Award / Deadline: 4 February / No entry fee

© Rory Doyle, from the series Delta Hill Riders. 2019 ZEISS Photography Award winner

Launched back in 2016, the ZEISS Photography Award seeks to reward visual storytellers who create compelling bodies of work that showcase their individual way of seeing the world. For the 2020 edition, photographers are invited to respond to the theme Seeing Beyond – Discoveries. “Throughout time, the human race has been driven to make discoveries” write the co-ordinators from the World Photography Organisation. “This might be a personal revelation, a scientific and technological breakthrough or an idea that has led to social change – a new way of thinking that has revolutionised our everyday lives. Since photography’s inception, many great individuals have seen the camera as a tool to explore and question the world and used the power of the image to shed light on something new. Epiphanies, inventions and transformations from the known to the unknown, we want to see something new.”

Submissions can cover a whole range of concepts related to the landscape, humans, science, political or economic changes, or even something more conceptual, yet the work must actively explore the topic of the brief. The application material should feature a series between five to 10 images and an accompanying statement that outlines the story. All entries will be reviewed by an independent judging panel that includes Louise Fedotov-Clements (Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival), Max Ferguson (Freelance Photo Editor), and Simon Lovermann (Founder & Artistic Director, De Greif). Together they will select one winner who will receive a range of ZEISS camera lenses of their choice worth a total of €12,000; a stipend of €3,000 to cover travel costs for a photo project; and flights and accommodation to attend the Sony World Photography Awards night and the exhibition opening in London in April 2020. ZEISS will also invite the winner to their headquarters in Germany to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory and the chance to test out a variety of ZEISS lenses. A selection of shortlisted series will be on show at London’s Somerset House during the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition. Go to to learn more.

LUMIX Festival for Young Visual Journalism Open Call / Deadline: 31 January / No entry fee

© Elena Anasova, from the series Out of the Way. 2018 FREELENS AWARD Honorable Mention

The LUMIX Festival for Young Photojournalism, held in Hanover, Germany, exists to celebrate young and social engaged photojournalists who are actively investigating political, social, ecological, and technological processes. The event’s focus is on journalistic, transmedia narrative formats, and on surfacing new perspectives on the concept of documentary. The curators are calling all photographers under the age of 35 to submit their work into one of two categories - Picture Series / Photo Story and Digital Storytelling – for the chance to be awarded an exhibition at the next edition of the festival in June 2020.

In addition to the exposure, LUMIX Festival is also offering a number of prizes to be granted to selected submissions. The FREELENS Award for in-depth reportages is endowed with a €10,000 monetary award while two other projects will receive an Honorable Mention and €1,000. Other accolades include the Lammerhuber Award for work that tells the most compelling story about everyday life; the UnweltDruckerei Sustainability Prize for work that explores eco-friendly living; and the LUMIX Digital Storytelling Award for the most outstanding multimedia web story. Frauke Böger (Spiegel Online), Andrea Holzherr (Magnum Photos), Søren Pagter (Danish School of Media and Journalism), Malin Schulz (Die Zeit), Barbara Stauss (Mare), Gilles Steinmann (Neue Zürcher Zeitung), and Andreas Trampe (Stern) are among the jury members this year. Submitted projects must have been completed within the past two years. The final deadline is 31 January. Visit for more information.



Chico Review / Deadline: 9 December / Entry fee: $25 - $50

The Chico Review takes place over six nights at Chico Hot Springs Resort near Livingston Montana, United States. 58 applicants will be selected by an independent jury and invited to spend one week with 20 of the most influential and creative photographers, book makers, gallerists, museum curators, and photobook publishers in the industry. One full scholarship and five partial scholarships will be awarded. Student discounts and need-based scholarships will be available to those selected who qualify. Attending artists will receive 10 formal reviews by speakers and reviewers and take part in artist lectures, panel discussions, peer reviews, and additional evening programming over seven days. At the end of the event, one grand prize winner will be announced, and their project will be published and distributed by Charcoal Book Club.


Fotografia Europea Open Call / Deadline: 16 December / €25

Returning for its 15th edition in 2020, Fotografia Europea will once again transform the northern Italian town of Reggio Emilia into a stage for contemporary photography with a rich program of events. The curatorial team have launched an open call for photographers to submit work to become part of the exhibition program at the festival, which is set to take place between 17 April and 24 May. Work must respond to the theme of Fantasies. Stories, Rules, Inventions and selection will be carried out by a jury comprised of Walter Guadagnini (Artistic Director, Fotografia Europea), Maria Pia Bernardoni (Director, Lagos Photo), and Oliva Maria Rubio (Director, Master PhotoEspaña). The call is only open to European or European-based artists.


Wellcome Photography Prize 2020 / Deadline: 16 December / No entry fee

The Wellcome Photography Prize was established to celebrate compelling imagery that showcases the importance of health in society and the impact health issues have upon people and communities. Open to visual storytellers worldwide, the award is designed to inspire people to think differently about health, medicine, and life, and ultimately open conversations about the pressing health challenges facing humanity today. The theme this year is centred around how we address the issue of people living with or recovering from mental health problems. Applicants are invited to submit work into one of five categories using any form of photography including documentary, reportage, portrait, landscape, fine art, or collage. The winner of each category will receive £1,250, while the overall winner will be granted a prize of £15,000.


BarTur Photo Award / Deadline: 23 December / Entry fee: US$20

The BarTur Photo Award was established back in 2011 based on the aim of celebrating the immense power photography has in influencing the way that we understand and engage with the world around us. The contest this year will look to support visual storytellers whose work illuminates the two themes of Unity in Diversity or Climate Change. The Award is split into two competitions - one for professionals and one for students which come with US$10,000 and US$3,000 prize funds respectively. Four Judges’ Choice Awards and a total of 12 Highly Commended Awards will also be granted. There will be a series of exhibitions of the Winners, Judges’ Choice and Highly Commended work in Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, and New York throughout 2020, while the BarTur Photo Award will also create a permanent online gallery.


Yannis Behrakis Photojournalism Grants / Deadline: 31 December / No entry fee

The Reuters photography grant program, first launched back in 2017, has been expanded this year and renamed after the long-time Reuters photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Yannis Behrakis. As part of the rebranding, Reuters Pictures has multiplied the prizes, now offering ten Grants each worth US$8,000 for photojournalists and students to produce a photo project and develop their visual storytelling skills. Successful applicants will be distributed on Reuters platforms and Reuters Pictures editors will mentor recipients throughout their projects.


Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI) Photo Grant / Deadline: 13 January / No entry fee

The Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI) – a collaborative committed to citizen engagement and collective action for the public good – has launched its annual competition that seeks to promote conversation around transparency and accountability issues and provide a space for photographers and artists to help bring these concepts to life. A single prize will be awarded by a panel of judges featuring a professional photographer, a seasoned photojournalist, and an expert in the Transparency, Accountability, and Participation (TAP) space. The winner will receive a work grant of US$8,000 to produce a photographic project comprised of at least 30 photographs related to the themes of government and corporate transparency and accountability. The prize is open to all amateur and professional visual storytellers over 18 years of age.


Istanbul Photo Awards / Deadline: 31 January / No entry fee

Organised by Anadolu Photo Agency, the Istanbul Photo Awards look to contribute to the sphere of news photography and offer a perspective shaped by Turkey’s unique position at the centre of diverse cultures. The contest this year is divided into four categories: namely single news, story news, single sports, and story sports. The winners of all categories will be given US$5,000, US$3,000, and US$1,500 for the first, second, and third prizes respectively, while the winner of the single news prize will take home an additional US$3,000 and the Photo of the Year prize.


Every month we curate a list of what is coming up in the world of photography awards. Aimed at early, mid-career, and professional photographers, this list offers details of the most exciting opportunities. To stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter by registering your email address in the space at the bottom of this page.

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

14 minutes

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