Winning Digital Photo Contests

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Audubon's "Birds in Focus" Deadline is September 7th!

Before I tell you about the contest (and the fast-approaching deadline) let me tell you that this amazing photograph was made by Rob Palmer and was not only published on the cover of Audubon magazine, but was also featured in my book Winning Digital Photo Contests. It was actually one of the first photos I chose for the book and the minute that I saw it I knew I wanted it in the book! The intensity of this moment, so perfectly captured, is what bird photography is all about. (Photo Copyright Rob Palmer.)

OK, now, if you're a bird photographer and you haven't already entered this year's Audubon contest (which is co-sponsored by Nature's Best Magazine--a wonderful nature magazine that features some of the best work in the world, beautifully reproduced), then now is the time: the contest closes on September 7th. One interesting note here is that there is a fee if you enter online, but if you mail prints, it's free to enter. So read the details and see which works best for you--but keep the deadline in mind.

Here's the info, direct from the contest site:

Each participant can submit up to 10 photos, so you have 10 chances to win. Your winning entry will appear in the January-February 2011 issue of Audubon and in Nature’s Best Photography.
Deadline: September 7, 2010
Professional (18 or older who has made $5,000 or more in past year on photography)
Amateur (18 or older who has made between zero and $4,999 in past year on photography)
Youth (13 to 17 years old as of May 15, 2010)
Two ways to enter:
1. Submit your digital photographs online and pay a fee: CLICK HERE
2. Mail paper prints for free: CLICK HERE
No purchase necessary. Contest begins 05/15/10 and ends 09/07/10. Must be at least 13 years of age and a legal resident of the U.S. or Canada (excluding Quebec) to enter. Entrants under the age of majority must get permission from their parent or legal guardian to enter the Contest and provide payment information. See Official Rules for complete details and how to enter without paying the entry fee. Void where prohibited.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nikon International Photo Contest

Nikon has announced the dates of the 33rd Nikon Photo Contest International! Entries will be accepted beginning on September 1, 2010. Established in 1969, the Nikon Photo Contest International is one of the world's most prestigious international photographic contests. 

According to Nikon:  "The Nikon Photo Contest International has been held by Nikon since 1969 and its aim is to provide an opportunite for photographers around the world to communicate and enrich photographic culture for professionals and amateurs alike."

There are two categories for this year's event:  a "free" category (Category A) and "Energy" (Category B). The second category, says Nikon, "...invites applicants to submit images that capture the energy and sights and subjects that inspire, motivate or excite them or viewers."

Entry dates for the contest run from September 1, 2010 until November 30, 2010. You can submit up to two images in each of the two categories (for a total of four photos). Prizes, as you might expect, include lots of Nikon cameras and you can find a full list of them and all of the official rules here.

Contest Tip:  Don't stop shooting when the sun goes down! I would guess that probably 95% of all photos entered in contests are shot during the day, so just by submitting photos that you shot after dark (carnivals, star trails, neon signs) your photos will jump out at the judges! Click here for a free tutorial on some great night photo techniques.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

National Geographic Photo Contest: Win $10,000

The annual National Geographic Magazine photo contest, easily one of the most prestigious contests in the world, begins accepting submissions on September 1st and ends November 30.  You can enter images (there is a $15 per photo entry fee) in each of three categories: people, places and things. There is a first prize of $2,500 in each category and one Grand Prize winner gets an additional $7,500. Plus, bonus of bonuses, your winning photos get published in National Geographic. I can't imagine that there is a photographer in the world that hasn't daydreamed about getting published in National Geographic magazine--so here's your chance!

Winners will be announced in early December. There is an entry fee of U.S. $15 per photo.You can read the official contest rules here.  There is also a FAQ page. And to get some inspiration and see what others have done, there are galleries of previous winning shots on the National Geo site.

You have three months to go through your very best images, or perhaps shoot new ones (perhaps you have a trip planned?) so no excuses! Just think: people, places and things and you're on your way. How cool would it be to get a call in December telling you that one of your photos is going to be published in National Geographic?

Contest Tip:  I've interviewed a lot of contest judges in the past few years and one of the things I hear them say most often is: "Show me something different--or from an unexpected viewpoint." Keep that in mind, especially when you're shooting familiar subjects. If you're photographing a chateau in France, for example, why not take a hot-air balloon ride and shoot it at sunset from the air? If you're photographing deer in a nearby park, think about setting your tripod in a stream and photographing them from water level as they come to drink. Surprise and entertain and you'll get lots of serious consideration from judges.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Write & Illustrate a Hallmark Greeting Card--win $500!

I don't know what you could write that would go with this photo and make a teenager laugh, but that's kind of the idea behind the current Hallmark Cards contest: Create a greeting card that uses one of your photos (or an illustration) and your text to make a teenager laugh out loud. Piece of cake, right?

This is a part of an on-going series of contests from Hallmark (with a different theme for each one) and the open dates for this one are August 2-22, 2010. Winners will be contacted in August and published online in October. And there's a nice cash prize: $250 if you win and they publish the card online, another $250 if they sell your card in stores! Not bad.

There's a winner's gallery online, so you can see what others have done creatively in past contests. Hey, you've bought a gazillion cards in your life probably, now is the time to create your own! All of the software and design templates are online and, of course, it's free to enter.

Contest Tip: Remember to always read the "official rules" of any contest so that you know what rights you're expected to grant should you win. I try to be very careful about only running legit contests by major companies on this blog, but it's up to you to read and know the rules. NEVER enter a contest that requires you give up all rights to your photos and always write and ask for clarification if you don't understand the rules.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nature Conservancy's 5th Annual Photo Contest

The Nature Conservancy's 5th Annual Photo Contest is underway and if your picture is a winner, it will be printed in the 2012 Nature Conservancy calendar that reaches nearly two million households worldwide. In addition, winning photos will be featured on The Nature Conservancy's website,, which is visited by more than three million people annually. They are looking for "...beautiful nature photography representing the diversity of life on Earth." That's a pretty broad invitation should provide lots of subject matter possibilities for you.

Entering the contest is really simple--you can just upload your photos to their Flickr account:  the Conservancy's Flickr™ group and tag them with PhotoContest-TNC10. Not familiar with Flickr? Find out more about this easy way to enter.

If you need ideas or inspiration, or want to see who your competition is, just check out their Flickr site. I love this idea of using a Flickr site to run a contest because it gives everyone a chance to see what other photographers are entering.

Deadline for the contest is October 4, 2010. The complete rules are here:  review the full rules.

Contest Tip: When it comes to entering nature competitions, remember that you want to avoid any sign of humanity or civilization or what judges call "the hand of man." In other words, you don't want a beautiful shot of an sunset with a telephone pole in the distance. Try to be sure that everything in your photos is completely natural and related to your subject. Is it fair to clone out a stray piece of garbage or a telephone pole? Read the rules--some contests allow minor retouching to remove human blips, others don't. Above all: be honest if you did any retouching, especially cloning.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sony's "The Art of Photography" Contest --Win Cameras!

Outdoor Photographer is hosting Sony's the "Art of Photography" contest!
If the thought of winning a new Sony camera in a photo contest appeals to you (and how could it not?), then you'll be happy to know about Sony's the Art of Photography contest that is being hosted by Outdoor Photographer and Digital Photo magazines.

The contest has four themes: Conservation in Focus and Action Storytelling (hosted by OP) and Environmental Portraits and Light is the Subject (hosted by DP). You can enter up to 5 photos in each category. Prizes include Sony A550 DSLR and A850 DSLR cameras--with Carl Zeiss lenses. One interesting twist: there are some cool instructional videos on the OP and DP sites featuring how-to photo lessons from top pros, including David McClain, Christina Mittermeier, And Katz and my old friend Brian Smith.

Better hurry if you want to enter though--the deadline is September 21st and you know how time flies when you're daydreaming about winning a new camera!

Contest tip: Remember, when you are choosing a photo to enter in any contest, pretend you're the judge and you've never seen the photo before. Will this photo shock you? Surprise you? Make you gasp? Make you wonder? Make you laugh? Judges are human too and if you can elicit an emotional response from them, you'll rise to the top of the photo pile.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Maine Fall Photo Contest Deadline August 9th!

The state of Maine's website has a great ongoing photo contest for travelers' photos of the Pine Tree state (why didn't they call it the Beautiful Coastline state?). The deadline for the Fall contest is next Monday, August 9th. So if you have any autumn pictures from past trips, now is the time to dig them out! There are no physical prizes for this contest, but winning photos will be featured on the official Maine website. The contest is open to pros and amateurs.

Here is some info from the contest site:

See your photo on the website!

Whether photography is your passion, your hobby, or just an occasional pastime, we invite you to participate in our photo contest, celebrating the beauty and unique character of Maine.
Winning photos will be displayed on the home page on a rotating basis. Both amateur and professional photographers are welcome to participate. Photos may be submitted as prints or in digital format; see contest rules for details.

  • Maine Coastal Scenes
  • Maine Inland and Mountain Scenes
  • Maine Wildlife
  • Maine Recreation
  • Maine Agriculture & Rural Life
  • Maine Cities and Towns
Photo Formats
Entries may be color prints or digital images. Black and white images are not eligible. Please read the specific guidelines for submitting prints and digital images.

Entries for the Fall 2010 Contest must be received by Monday, August 9, 2010, at 11:59 p.m. EDST. Photo Contest - Entry Form
Please read the complete contest rules before entering.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

8th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Contest!

Smithsonian Magazine has announced their 8th annual photo contest and it's one of the premiere magazine photo contests in the world, so it's worth checking it out. There are $500 category prizes and the grand prize winner gets a Grand Canyon weekend adventure trip. This is one of the contests featured in my book Winning Digital Photo Contests and they provided us with several great winning shots. Below is the official press release from their site. And if you need some photo inspiration, here are the winners of the 7th Annual Smithsonian Contest.

The 8th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

Our eighth photo contest brings a new opportunity for Smithsonian to see the world through your unique lens. After seven competitions, our editors have seen over 140,000 photographs from more than 90 countries around the world. What makes a photograph a Smithsonian winner? Technical quality, clarity and composition are all important, but so too is a flair for the unexpected and the ability to capture a picture-perfect moment.

Enter the contest

Contestants can enter photographs in five categories—Altered Images, Americana, The Natural World, People and Travel—that represent subjects of special interest to the magazine. Fifty finalists will be selected, ten for each of the five categories. Smithsonian will notify the 50 finalists by February 28, 2011. From these 50 finalists, five category winners and a grand prize winner will be selected. The entries of all winners and finalists will be published on the magazine's Web site on March 1, 2011. At that time, readers can vote online for one readers’ choice winner. The winning entries will be published in the print edition of Smithsonian magazine during summer 2011.

Category winners will be awarded $500. The readers’ choice winner will be awarded $500. The grand prize winner will receive a Smithsonian Journeys Grand Canyon Weekend Adventure for two, or the wholesale cash equivalent.

On a weekly basis beginning April 4, Smithsonian judges will post the best of the incoming entries in the Editors’ Picks portion of our Web site.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome to Winning Digital Photo Contests!

Hi, my name is Jeff Wignall and I'm a photographer and writer and the author of numerous bestselling photo books. This blog is based on my book Winning Digital Photo Contests.  I'm hoping this blog will become the info center for all things related to digital contests--including tips on how to take photos that will win contests, interviews with photographers that have won contests (some of them have won a lot of contests) and, of course, lists of the best photo contests with the best prizes!

My book is the most complete book on how to win photo contests that I've ever seen and it has one very interesting twist: it is illustrated almost entirely by photos that have won photo contests--and almost all of them were shot by amateur photographers. And wait until you see some of the photos! I'll be showing you some of the photos on this blog, of course, and when you see them you'll be blown away.

To get things rolling, here's an interview that I did with Digital Image Cafe about how the book was created. I think you'll find the background of the book interesting and you'll also hear how we found (and eventually chose) all of the photos for the book.

Please, if you have contest questions, news about a contest or if you've won a contest,  leave a comment or email me!