09 January 2020

January's Photography Grants and Awards

09 January 2020 - Written by Simon Hall

As we enter a new year so, too, do we enter a new photography award season with many renowned contests welcoming submissions this January, including the PHmuseum 2020 Photography Grant, Pictures of the Year International, and MACK First Book Award.

PHmuseum 2020 Photography Grant / Opens: 14 January / Early Bird Deadline: 30 January; Final Deadline: 20 February / Entry fee: £20 - £30

© Fernando Montiel Klint, from the series Dystopia. 2019 Photography Grant 3rd Prize winner

The PHmuseum Photography Grant is an annual initiative that recognises the importance of visual storytelling. Moving into its eight edition this year, the Grant is designed to support the production and promotion of compelling photographic projects through monetary prizes and various opportunities across international festivals and online media. This year, four winners will share cash awards totaling £12,000 and all the shortlisted works will be showcased in projections at Lagos Photo Festival (Nigeria), Verzasca FOTO (Switzerland), and Jakarta International Photo Festival (Indonesia). A separate projection of all the winners and honorable mention awardees will be presented at Cortona On The Move (Italy).

In other prizes, the curatorial teams at PHest (Italy) and Getxophoto (Spain) will each select one work to be granted solo shows at their respective festivals upcoming in 2020; our founder Giuseppe Oliverio and curator Rocco Venezia will select three series to be published on World Press Photo’s online publication Witness; and one photographer will be granted an exhibition at PHmuseum Lab in Bologna which is set to open later this year. The New Generation Prize, dedicated solely to photographers under 30 years of age, will also include a consultancy session with an expert from the PHmuseum educational program. All the winners, honorable mention awardees, and several selected submissions will also be promoted on the PHmuseum channels throughout the year.

The submissions will be reviewed by an independent jury comprised of Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger (Professor at University of Arts Helsinki), Azu Nwagbogu (Director, AAF and Lagos Photo), Roderick van der Lee (Fair Director Of Photo London), and Tanya Habjouqa (Photographer and Member of Noor). Photographers are invited to enter one, or multiple, series centred around a specific theme, narrative, or concept, and at least four images must have been shot after 1 January 2017. The entry fee is £30 per submission, yet applicants can take advantage of the £20 Early Bird fee if they apply before 30 January. The Grant opens on 14 January and the final deadline is set for 20 February. Learn more at

Pictures of the Year International / Deadline: 19 January / Entry fee: US$50

© Fabio Bucciarelli, from the series The Border Wall. 2019 POYi Photographer of the Year

Celebrating its 77th edition this year, Pictures of the Year International is one of the most renowned photography competitions in the world, building its reputation on recognising excellence in documentary photography and photojournalism, within still photography, motion photojournalism (videography) and visual editing in both print and online formats. “POY believes it is critical for people to experience coverage of news events and social issues facing our world” write the contest organisers at the Missouri School of Journalism. “When you enter Pictures of the Year, your work is recognised worldwide and becomes part of our collective visual history.”

Photographers can enter their work into 35 different categories, some of the most notable of which include: Photographer of the Year, International (open to independent, agency, wire service, or newspaper photographers); Photography Book of the Year (for book entries produced in a documentary vein published within the last three years); Angus McDougall Overall Excellence in Editing Award (recognising a publication's team of visual editors in both print and online presentations), Documentary Project of the Year (dedicated to teams or individuals that best utilise online multimedia components to investigate or explore social, economic, or political issues), and the World Understanding Award (rewarding a photographer’s long-term story, project, or essay that focuses on the human condition and portrays a sense of justice or insight into difficult problems).

All the photographs entered must have been taken or published for the first time, either in print or online, between 1 January and 31 December 2019. Each registration is US$50. Deadline: 19 January. Go to to find out more about the entry requirements and specifications.

MACK First Book Award / Deadline: 20 January / No entry fee

© Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, from the book Nothing's in Vain. 2017 MACK First Book Award winner

Established back in 2012, the MACK First Book Award is a publishing prize that aims to support emerging artists of all ages and nationalities looking to find a voice through book form. Each year, a shortlist of 10 submissions is created by an independent jury, from which one winner will be selected and afforded the opportunity to collaborate with MACK in publishing their project. The members of the judging panel this year include Jörg Colberg (Writer and professor of photography), Ellis Jones (Editor-in-Chief, VICE Magazine), Joanna Piotrowska (Photographer), Polly Fleury (Director of Special Projects, Wilson Centre for Photography), and Michael Mack (Publisher of MACK).

Artists can only enter work that is either unpublished or a self-published project, with books that have already been published by a third-party publishing house not eligible for consideration. Submissions must consist of coherent book projects and should not be a portfolio of images presented in a book format. Only entries received as printed book dummies will be reviewed and any text within the book must be supplied with an English translation. To learn more about the jury and the submission process, go to

Head On Photo Awards / Deadline: 3 February / Entry fee: AUD$1 - AUD$30

© Joel Jimenez, from the series When the Dust Settles. 2019 Head On Photo Awards winner

Head On Photo Festival (Sydney, Australia), one of the leading events on the photography calendar, is calling photographers worldwide to submit their work to the 2020 Head On Photo Awards. The contest seeks to represent a global selection of the best work from both emerging and established photographers across three categories, namely Portrait, Landscape, and Student. The Head On Portrait and Landscape awards are open internationally to all photographers working in all styles – from classical work to experimental projects – while the Head On Student Award is open solely to Australia’s young visual storytellers. Judging is done anonymously to ensure each work is awarded solely on its merit rather than the celebrity of the photographer.

The jury this year is comprised of leaders in the Australian and international photography communities and represents all aspects of the photography world including curators, picture editors, photographers, educators and other industry leaders. Three winners per category will win prizes from a total pool worth over AUD$70,000 including AUD$30,500 in cash and a selection of digital imaging equipment from Fujifilm, Sony, and Adobe. All finalists will be showcased in a fully produced exhibition – with all costs covered – and tour in a travelling show to other international festivals around the world. The entry fee is AUD$30 for the Portrait and Landscape categories and AUD$1 for the Student prize. Member discounts apply. The submission deadline is 16 February. For more details, go to

Magnum Foundation Fellowship / Deadline: 23 January / No entry fee

© Nadia Bseiso

The Magnum Foundation Fellowship offers mentorship and financial support to early-career practitioners at a point in their development that is critical to their evolution as photographers and storytellers. During the fellowship program, which runs for 12 weeks from the beginning of March through the end of May, fellows must produce an in-depth project grounded in New York City that demonstrates a commitment to social issues and community-based work. “Fellows will be encouraged to build relationships with their subjects in the field, build partnerships with relevant organisations, and experiment with new narrative forms and storytelling techniques” say the Foundation. “They will receive mentorship and project development support from Magnum staff and extended network throughout the duration of the fellowship.”

In addition to producing a body of work, fellows are expected to make significant contributions to the everyday work done at Magnum Foundation, including research on social issues, exploring emerging technologies and platforms, and multimedia and event production. Candidates should have expertise in at least one of the following areas: arts administration, research, writing, video production, or graphic design. Successful candidates will receive a stipend of US$500 per week (US$6,000 total). Entry is free. Applications are due 23 January. More information can be found at

CENTER Grants / Early Bird Deadlines: 30 January; Final Deadlines: 25 February / Entry fee: US$30 - US$45

© Igor Tereshkov, from the series Oil and Moss. 2019 Project Launch Grant winner

The not-for-profit cultural platform CENTER (based in New Mexico, United States) is currently accepting submissions for four of its annual initiatives that together aim to support photographers in furthering their careers through monetary awards and exhibition opportunities.

The first – the Project Development Grant – is an international competition open to photojournalists, fine art, or documentary photographers looking for funding to continue working on projects that are in progress. The applicants should be at a place in their work and career where they can benefit from the exposure, networks, and opportunities that CENTER offers. The juror is Erin O’Toole (Associate Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Art). The second contest – the Excellence in Multimedia Award – is designed to strengthen a project that utilises photography, video, installation, or other elements that expand on traditional methods of displaying and experiencing photography. Carrie Levy (Creative Director, The New York Times) is the sole juror.

The third initiative – the Project Launch Grant – will be awarded to a photographer for a completed body of work, or an ongoing project already considered a cohesive visual story, while the fourth – the Me&Eve Award – looks to recognise a female photographer over 40 years of age who uses their camera to address social justice. The awards package for each Grant includes a US$5,000 cash endowment (except for the Excellence in Multimedia Award), complimentary participation in Review Santa Fe, and an online exhibition at The application fees range from US$30 to US$45 depending on the Grant and membership status (the prices will go up from 30 January to 25 February). Learn more at



World Press Photo Contest / Deadline: 9 January / No entry fee

The annual World Press Photo Contest rewards photographers for the best images that have contributed significantly to visual journalism over the past 12 months. Whether entered as singles or stories, the pictures are judged 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. All the contest winners will share a prize pot totalling more than €130,000 in value.


World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest / Deadline: 9 January / No entry fee

The World Press Photo Foundation launched its Multimedia Contest in 2011, renamed the Digital Storytelling Contest in 2016, as a way to recognise the best forms of visual journalism enabled by the transformations of digital technologies and the changing media economy. The competition is open to digital image-makers, photojournalists, producers, and entry coordinators with submissions that include the work of a professional visual journalist. 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.


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.


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

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. 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


Void Coop / Deadline: 31 January / No entry fee

Alternative publishing platform Void has launched a new initiative that proposes an original model for co-publishing a book together with visual artists. Sharing 50% of the costs, 50% of the responsibility, and 50% of the books produced, Void has the technical and creative experience to help bring dummy book concepts to life. As part of each publishing project they offer full design services, a vision for editing/sequencing, access to production partners that can enable competitive fees, an input into the printing and binding processes, commercial analysis, and advertising through their social media outlets. To be considered, applicants must submit a PDF with all images and texts, an artist biography, a short artist statement, and a completed questionnaire that can be found on the Void website.


SÅM Artistic Residency / Deadline: 31 January / No entry fee

Organised in collaboration with the Lessinia Film Festival (Lessinia, Italy), the SÅM Artistic Residency is a triennial project designed to help photographers visually explore the region. Salvatore Vitale – an artist and co-founder of YET magazine – will be the curator of this third edition and he, together with SÅM staff, will select two artists who will be invited to produce a body of work that will be showcased at the 26th Lessinia Film Festival later this year. During the residency, participants will have the opportunity to attend events involving experts in various fields such as geology, history, nature, and locals that can help in the individuation of the final theme of the projects.


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.


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

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. 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.


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

16 minutes

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