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  • Writer's pictureAbdul Qudoos

Best Photography Contests for Beginners to Enter in 2024

Updated: Apr 7


best photography contests for beginners

Do you dream of seeing your photography exhibited in galleries and published in magazines?


If yes, enter photography contests.


Yes, you heard that right.


Photography contests are not just for pros. They are for beginners like you who want to challenge themselves, learn from others, and win amazing prizes.


But not all contests are created equal. Some are scams. Some are too expensive. Some are too competitive.


You need to know which ones are worth your time and money. That’s why we created this guide.


We did the research for you. We checked their credibility, their entry fees, and their prizes to find the best photography contests for beginners to enter in 2024.


So what are you waiting for? Let’s get into it.


Why You Should Enter Photography Contests?

Before jumping into the list, let's first discuss why entering contests can be so valuable for those new to photography:

  • Receive constructive feedback - Many contests provide entrants the opportunity to get their photos evaluated by professional photographers and judges. This allows you to understand what you're doing well and how you can improve.

  • Gain more exposure - By entering your work into contests, especially those that advertise finalists/winners, you expand your reach and get your photography seen by new audiences. This will allow you to get international exposure.

  • Motivation to shoot more - Contests give you a reason to shoot more and try new things. They also give you a chance to win awesome prizes, from cash to gear to trips. Who doesn’t like prizes?

  • Benchmark your progress - As you enter more contests, you can track your progress and see how you stack up against other photographers. You can also learn from the winners and see what makes their photos stand out.

  • Build your photography portfolio - Contests also help you build your portfolio of amazing photos that you can use for personal or professional purposes. Whether you want to impress your friends, family, or clients, having a portfolio of contest-worthy photos will make you look like a pro.


So start entering contests today and see how they can transform your photography skills and experience. You’ll be amazed by the results.


And who knows, you might even win some of them!


Factors To Consider When Choosing Contests as a Beginner

With hundreds of photo contests out there, how do you narrow down the options? Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Entry fees - Try to find contests with lower fees, as you'll likely be submitting to multiple ones. We recommend avoiding free contests as they have lots of competition.

  • Prizes - Cash prizes or camera equipment can be big incentives for beginners. But exposure and judging feedback also have value.

  • Competition level - Some contests are open to all skill levels, while others require a certain proficiency. Choose ones that match your experience.

  • Submission requirements - Make sure you have photographs that meet the contest categories, rules, submission specifications, etc.

  • Chances of winning - Try to gauge your chances by looking at past winners and entrant numbers. Avoid contests that receive thousands of entries. Go for smaller ones in the beginning.

  • Deadlines - Look for upcoming deadlines to plan contest entries in advance. Avoid contests that are already closed or closing too soon.


With these tips in mind, let's look at some of the top recommended photography competitions for beginners to enter in 2024.


1. The Artist Gallery

homepage of the artist gallery

The Artist Gallery provides a unique platform for both professional and amateur photographers to showcase their talents and gain recognition.


The monthly themed photo contests allow participants to demonstrate their skills in popular genres like portraiture, architecture, street, and wildlife photography. Themes change every month, so there's always a new creative challenge.


The Artist Gallery makes entering affordable and chances of winning high - unlike other contests where competition is fierce. Beginners and amateurs have excellent odds here.


Categories: Specific themed contests each month.


Prizes: Grand prize winner receives 15% of entry fees. 2nd and 3rd place get 10% and 5%.  That’s right, the more people enter, the bigger the prize. The top 3 photographers will also be featured in a blog post.


But the best part is they don’t reward the top 3 only.


The 25 best photographs will be shared on social media channels and the digital gallery, reaching thousands of viewers and potential clients. They will also receive digital certificates to show off their achievements.


Entry Fees: The entry fees are reasonable and accessible to everyone. You can submit:

  • 1 Photo = $11

  • 3 Photos = $28

  • 5 Photos = $38

  • 10 Photos = $59


Final Recommendation: With accessible entry fees, flexible submission options, and great cash & exposure incentives, The Artist Gallery's monthly contest gives beginners an excellent opportunity to get their work recognized. The main benefit is that they don't only reward the top 3 - they also share the 25 best photos on social media and their gallery and give them certificates. This increases photographers' chances of winning and getting recognized.


See all their current monthly contests at https://www.theartistgallery.art/open-contests


Submit your best work for a chance to win cash prizes and gain valuable exposure.


2. MonoVisions Black & White Photography Awards

homepage of monovisions B&W photography

MonoVisions Photography Awards are dedicated to monochromatic photography and highlight the best black-and-white images of the year across various genres. The competition has run annually since 2015 and receives thousands of submissions from more than 65 countries.


Entrants can submit single images and series. All entries are judged by an international jury of photography experts and curators.


Categories: Abstract, Architecture, Cityscape, Landscape, Portrait, Street, Wildlife, Other


Prizes: $3,000 for the Series winner, $2,000 for the Single Image winner.


Entry Fees: $25-30 for series, $20-25 per image.


Deadline: JANUARY 21ST, 2024 — Early Deadline. MAY 19TH, 2024 — Final Deadline.


Final Recommendation: For beginners focused on black-and-white photography, this contest provides a meaningful opportunity to showcase your work and get feedback from industry veterans. The generous cash prizes also give incentives to enter. An excellent way to benchmark yourself against top mono photographers.


3. Life Framer Photography Award

homepage of lifeframer photography

Life Framer is an online photography magazine that runs monthly photography contests aimed at discovering new talent and interpreting different aspects of life through images. Each month's competition highlights a unique theme and offers cash prizes and exhibition opportunities. Past themes have included minimalism, solitude, growth, parenthood, and more. Prominent gallerists, editors, and curators judge the entries.


Categories: Themes related to 'Life', revealed monthly.


Prizes: Over $24,000 in cash prizes annually. Winning entries exhibited.


Entry Fees:

1 Image = $20

3 Images = $30

6 Images = $40

Or Enter up to ten images per competition for the next 12 months for $100 (no further payment required).


Deadlines: Ongoing through 2024. One contest every month.


Final Recommendation: For beginners seeking regular opportunities for exposure and feedback, Life Framer offers an accessible option to submit your interpretative images monthly. The diverse themes also help build your skills. While the competition is tough, placements earn global exhibits to boost your visibility. Overall, it is an excellent platform for honing your craft.


4. GuruShots Photography Challenges

homepage of gurushots

GuruShots is an online photography platform that hosts daily photo contests called Photography Challenges. Each challenge poses a unique theme or genre for photographers to compete in, such as minimalist shots, epic landscapes, black and white portraits, or architectural symmetry. Thousands of photographers submit images to GuruShots challenges each day. Sponsors provide prizes including digital gear, magazine subscriptions, software, tutorials, and more. GuruShots also features leaderboards, collections, and forums for photographers to interact and get exposure.


Categories: Whatever the daily challenge theme is.


Prizes: Digital gear, subscriptions, discounts, and exposure from sponsors.


Entry Fees: Free!


Deadlines: Daily


Final Recommendation: The constant stream of photography challenges on GuruShots makes it a fun and addictive platform for beginners to test their skills daily. With free entry and name-brand sponsorship prizes, it's lower risk than other contests too. However, some users have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of exposure and the voting system. Overall, GuruShots is great for rapid-fire practice, exposure, and motivation. But manage your expectations, and other contests may better highlight your best work.


5. Istanbul Photo Awards

homepage of istanbul photography awards

The Istanbul Photo Awards highlight pressing news and social issues through photography. Organized annually by Anadolu Agency, a global news provider, this contest recognizes the most compelling photojournalism and documentary images of the year across various categories. Hundreds of professional and amateur photographers worldwide enter each year. Winners are covered extensively in global media.


Categories: News, Sports, Nature & Environment, Portraiture, and Daily Life.


Prizes: Grand prize of $6,000. Sony Alpha A7 III Body. Global press coverage.


Entry Fees: Free


Deadline: January 17, 2024


Final Recommendation: For beginners with impactful documentary or news images, the Istanbul Photo Awards offer invaluable exposure across a huge global platform. However, given the professional caliber, the chances of winning are extremely low. Unless you have standout social issue photos, your money is better spent on contests better suited to amateurs. Use discretion in deciding whether to enter based on your portfolio.


6. International Photography Awards (IPA)

homepage of International Photography Awards

The International Photography Awards conducts an annual professional photo competition that celebrates the world's finest images across various genres and recognizes excellence in photography. Founded in 2003, IPA receives over 14,000 submissions from 120 countries each year and is judged by famous photographers like Dan Rubin, Joel Grimes, and Frank Meo. 11 professional and non-professional categories encompass abstract, advertising, aerial, commissioned work, and more.


Categories: Aerial, Architecture, Black and White, Cityscapes, Conceptual, Sports, Travel, Photojournalism, Fashion, Self-Portrait, Abstract, and Digital Art.


Prizes: $1,000 for Professional category winners, $500 for Non-Pro winners.


Entry Fees: $40 per image for professionals, $30 for non-professionals, and $20 for students.


Deadline: 31 May 2024


Final Recommendation: Entering the prestigious IPA competition provides beginners a way to benchmark themselves against talented photographers from around the world. The feedback from IPA’s esteemed panel of judges can help significantly strengthen your skills. The per-image entry fees are also not very high. Overall, it is a worthwhile endeavor, but focus on growth over awards.


7. Aperture Portfolio Prize

homepage of Aperture Portfolio Prize

Aperture Foundation runs an annual photography competition called the Aperture Portfolio Prize, which identifies talented photographers pursuing innovative work worthy of a larger audience. Winners and finalists are featured/published in Aperture magazine and online. The first prize includes $3,000, a $1,000 gift card, and an exhibition in NYC. The judges are photography experts, curators, editors, and collectors.


Categories: Open


Prizes: $3,000 cash prize, a $1,000 gift card to shop for gear at mpb.com, and an exhibition in New York.


Entry Fees: To enter, you must be an Aperture magazine subscriber which will cost you $75.


Deadline: January 5, 2024


Final Recommendation: Entering the Aperture Portfolio Prize puts your photography in front of prestigious judges who can provide invaluable feedback. Publication in Aperture also offers immense exposure. Weigh the entry fee against the prospect of constructive critiques and potential exhibiting opportunities. Overall, an excellent opportunity to showcase your talent.


8. World Press Photo Contest

homepage of World Press Photo Contest

The World Press Photo Contest is the world's most prestigious and competitive press photography contest recognizing the best photojournalism and documentary visual storytelling of the year. Winning images are awarded with compelling website and social media promotion. Founded in 1955, it draws around 4,000 entrants annually. Judging is done by a panel of industry veterans over several rounds. Winners are revealed at a gala and exhibit.


Categories: 8 categories around Contemporary Issues, General News, Environment, Nature, Long-Term Projects, Spot News, Sports Action, People.


Prizes: Cash prizes up to €6,000. Getting published on their website and social platforms as well as inclusion in their annual traveling exhibition.


Entry Fees: Free


Deadline: January 11, 2024


Final Recommendation: This contest is only open to professional photographers working in journalism or documentary photography, and entrants must provide proof of their professional status. However, entering remains worthwhile to gain feedback from distinguished professionals at the pinnacle of photojournalism. If you’re a photojournalist, this contest is a must to enter as it’s free as well.


Final Words

Participating in photography contests allows beginners to gain valuable feedback, exposure, motivation, and portfolio-building opportunities. Though winning top prizes will be challenging initially, focus on using contests to strengthen your skills. Study past winning entries, implement judges' critiques, and improve with each submission.


Of the contests covered, The Artist Gallery's contests provide an accessible opportunity for beginners to get their work recognized globally. With reasonable entry fees and great cash/exposure prizes, I highly recommend you to enter this contest.


Don't let self-doubt stop you from entering competitions. Use them to expand your abilities, even if you don't win. With the right mindset and effort, contests will take your photography to the next level. The only way to succeed is to start shooting. You may just capture an award-winning image!


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