07 January 2021

January's Photography Awards and Opportunities

07 January 2021 - Written by Simon Hall

As we enter a new year so, too, do we enter a new photography award season with many renowned contests accepting submissions this month, including the PHmuseum 2021 Photography Grant, Pictures of the Year International, and MACK First Book Award. Discover how they can support the development of your work.

PHmuseum 2021 Photography Grant / Opens: 12 January / Early Bird Deadline: 28 January; Final Deadline: 18 February / Entry fee: $28 - $40

© Vincent Desailly. PHmuseum 2020 Photography Grant Honourable Mention awardee

The PHmuseum Photography Grant is an annual initiative that celebrates the importance of visual storytelling. Moving into its ninth 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. Four winners will share cash awards totaling $14,000 and their winning series will be showcased in projections at Lagos Photo Festival (Nigeria), Verzasca Photo (Switzerland), and Jakarta International Photo Festival (Indonesia), together with the works of the honourable mention awardees and shortlisted artists.

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 2021 and our own curatorial team will choose one photographer to be awarded a solo show at PHmuseum Lab in Bologna (Italy). A further six applicants will also be granted portfolio review sessions with a mentor of their choice from the PHmuseum Education program, and, for the first time, the director of Landskrona Foto (Sweden) Jenny Nordquist will handpick one artist to receive a bursary for participation in the Landskrona Foto Residency program. The winners, honorable mention awardees, and several selected submissions will be promoted on the PHmuseum channels throughout the year.

All entries will be reviewed by an independent jury comprised of Michael Famighetti (Editor of Aperture Magazine), Renée Mussai (Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial & Collections at Autograph, London), Trent Parke (Photographer and Member of Magnum Photos), and Julieta Escardó (Photographer, Editor, and Educator). Photographers are invited to enter one, or multiple, cohesive series featuring between five and 20 images. The theme is open, and all photographic approaches are welcomed. The entry fee is $40 per submission, yet applicants can take advantage of the $28 Early Bird fee if they apply before 28 January. The Grant opens on 12 January and the final deadline is set for 18 February. Learn more at

Pictures of the Year International / Deadline: 18 January / Entry fee: US$50

© Michael Robinson Chavez. 2020 POYi Photographer of the Year, International

Celebrating its 78th 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, with four new options specific to 2020, namely Impact 2020: Election Season, Impact 2020: Protests and Movements, COVID-19 News Picture Story, and COVID-19 Personal Expression. Some of the other notable categories 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 2020. Each registration is US$50. Deadline: 18 January. Go to to find further information about the entry requirements and specifications.

MACK First Book Award / Deadline: 25 January / No entry fee

© Damian Heinisch, spread from the book 45. 2020 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 Mariama Attah (Curator of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool), Polly Fleury (Director of Special Projects at the Wilson Centre for Photography), Renée Mussai (Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial & Collections at Autograph, London), Eugenie Shinkle (Independent Photographer and Writer), and Clare Strand (Independent Artist)

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. Visit for additional information about the jury and the submission process.

Getxophoto Open Call / Deadline: 10 February / Entry fee: €20 per project

© Thaddé Comar. 2020 Getxophoto Open Call winner

Getxophoto, the thematic festival held in the Basque Country, Spain, is inviting visual artists from all over the world to share their vision about the proposed theme of the upcoming edition: To Share. “The idea of solidarity based on generosity and integration that presupposes hierarchies between communities is being replaced by movements that call for horizontal, respectful forms of movement, coexistence, and celebration of difference,” writes curator Jon Uriarte. “A complex scenario in which the liberalisation of information on the Internet has fostered polarisation, focusing the public debate on the limits of freedom of expression and surveillance capitalism. In a world governed by the individual accumulation of goods, the fear of the other in a context shaken by a global pandemic, the right, the need, and the responsibility to share things take on vital relevance.”

The independent judging panel will be looking for work that explores the new meaning this idea of sharing has acquired to be showcased in a collection of unconventional installations in both physical and digital exhibition spaces. Cristina De Middel (Photographer and Magnum Photos Associate), Mariama Attah (Curator of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool), Gwen Lee (Director and Co-founder of the Singapore International Photography Festival), and Jon Uriarte (Artist, Digital Curator at The Photographers’ Gallery and Curator of Getxophoto) are the jury members. Proposals that use photography, video, installation, performance, actions, digital art, or any other means of visual expression are all welcome. A minimum of three winners will be granted a solo exhibition at Getxophoto 2021 (1 – 26 September), a €400 artist fee, accommodation for two nights during the Opening Week, and a spot in the festival’s official program and book. Submissions are €20 per project and can only be made online through the Picter platform, where the requirements, FAQs, and terms and conditions can also be found. More information is available at

Landskrona Foto Residency / Deadline: 31 January / No entry fee

© Marta Bogdanska. 2020 Landskrona Foto Residency participant

In recent years, Landskrona Foto has become established as one of the Nordic regions’ eminent photography platforms through the organisation of a string of cultural initiatives and the renowned Landskrona Foto Festival. This six-week residency program, now in its seventh year, offers an opportunity for a visual artist working with photography and/or lens-based media to enjoy time and space away from their usual obligations to cultivate their creative process in an environment rich in cultural resources and discourse.

The selected photographer will receive a grant of 15,000 SEK (approximately €1,500), travel expenses to and from their home country, an apartment in Landskrona, and an office space with Landskrona Foto crew. As part of the program, Landskrona Foto will also look to connect the accepted photographer with regional-based image-makers and other art professionals through a series of meetings, mentoring sessions, exhibition openings, and other networking events. To be considered, photographers should submit one or two projects each containing between five and 10 images, a current CV, and a detailed residency project proposal. The deadline for entries is 31 January and application is free. Find out more at

Feature Shoot's Emerging Photography Awards / Deadline: 8 January / Entry fee: US$25

© Maximilian Mann. 2020 Emerging Photography Awards winner

Entering its sixth year, this international competition from Feature Shoot has helped launch the careers of dozens of up-and-coming photographers through exhibition opportunities around the globe. Among the prizes this year, three to five selected photographers will be featured as part of FORMAT21 Festival in the United Kingdom and 10 photographers will have one of their images exhibited as part of a week-long poster exhibition on the streets of East London.

All submissions will be reviewed by a panel featuring Chelsea Matiash (Senior Editor for Digital Storytelling at The New York Times), Alessia Glaviano (Brand Visual Director of Vogue Italia and Director of the Photo Vogue Festival), Polly Irungu (Founder of Black Women Photographers), Louise Fedotov-Clements (Director of FORMAT International Photography Festival), Joshua Kissi (Independent artist), and Alison Zavos (Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Feature Shoot), among others. All photographers not currently represented by a gallery or photographers' agent are invited to apply and entries will be accepted from photographers of all ages and backgrounds working across all genres including (but not limited to) fine art, landscape, documentary, portraits, fashion and still life. The entry fee is US$25 for a series of up to five images. Learn more at



Aperture Portfolio Prize / Deadline: 9 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 solo exhibition in New York. The winner and up to four runners up will each have their own feature on and may also be presented the opportunity to participate in the Aperture Foundation limited-edition print program.


World Press Photo Contest / Deadline: 12 January / No entry fee

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. 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. The winners of the World Press Photo of the Year and the World Press Photo Story of the Year awards will each receive €5,000, while all winning photographers will be invited to a small online festival that will feature presentations, lectures, and networking opportunities.


World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest / Deadline: 12 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 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 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 €5,000.


Sony World Photography Awards / Deadline: 14 January / No entry fee

Free to enter and open to both established and emerging photographers, the Sony World Photography Awards are a global voice for visual storytelling and provide a vital insight into the trends of contemporary photography. In the Professional Award, an international jury will be looking for series that are technically advanced and offer a fresh perspective on what photography has the power to do today. Applicants can enter multiple works into the following categories: Architecture & Design, Creative, Documentary Projects, Environment, Landscape, Natural World & Wildlife, Portraiture, Still Life, Sport, and Portfolio. A total prize fund of US$25,000 plus exhibition opportunities and the latest Sony digital imaging equipment will be shared between the winners.


Getty Images #ShowUs Grant / Deadline: 14 January / No entry fee

In partnership with Dove and Girlgaze, Getty Images has launched the latest #ShowUs Grant that seeks to promote diversity within creative commercial photography and videography, elevating the work and the voices of women, female-identifying, and non-binary photographers. The #ShowUs Grant will offer two US$5,000 Grants and mentorship to artists who are using their talents to create inclusive visual stories on the theme ‘Women Relationships’. The winners will be selected based on their ability to execute a compelling commercial visual narrative based on still images or video. The jury will consider the calibre of the portfolio, the project’s merit, the artist’s professional ability, how the submitted projects represent women from across the globe, and how the project will help to change representation in the media and advertising.


All About Photo Awards / Deadline: 31 January / Entry fee: US$30+

Driven by a goal to inform, educate, and inspire in all things related to photography, All About Photo has launched the sixth edition of the All About Photo Awards, calling photographers from around the world to submit work for the chance to win a host of monetary prizes and exposure opportunities. The prize pool this year totals US$10,000, with the Grand Prize coming with a US$5,000 cash award. All winners will have their work showcased during Daylighted's digital travelling exhibition worldwide, displayed in the All About Photo Winners Gallery, and featured in the printed issue of AAP Magazine’s special edition dedicated to the competition.


The Contemporary African Photography Prize / Deadline: 7 February / No entry fee

The Contemporary African Photography Prize is calling for photographers to submit work that engages with the African continent and its diaspora for the opportunity to win space in a series of large-scale outdoor exhibitions around the globe. An independent panel of international curators, publishers, and editors will review the work and select first a shortlist of 25 artists and then the awardees. The winners will be announced at Photo Basel International Art Fair in June 2021.


BarTur Photo Award / Deadline: 22 February / Entry fee: US$20

The BarTur Photo Award was established back in 2011 based on the goal of celebrating the immense power photography has on 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 three themes of Unity in Diversity, Climate Change, and Human Love. Winners across each category will receive a share of US$10,000 in cash awards and a whole host of other prizes including residency opportunities across four European cities, exhibitions in Copenhagen, Łódź, and Berlin (as part of Berlin Photo Week), portfolio reviews, and international press exposure.


Visit our awards page to get a complete view of the best photography opportunities that are currently open for entry.

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

16 minutes