Every professional photographer knows the following competitions; a mention of any of these awards on your resume or portfolio is certain to make you stand out. If you’re not familiar with them, take a second to learn about them and keep them in mind as the gold standard of photography and multimedia contests. Established visual journalists, note that many of these often photography-heavy competitions are now introducing multimedia and video categories that you may want to check out.
World Press photo, an independent organization based in Amsterdam, was founded in 1955. Its press photography contest is one of the most prestigious in the world. In addition to the World Press Photo of the Year award, the contest has multiple categories, including Spot News, General News, Portraits, Arts and Entertainment, and Sports Action. The organization aims to support press photography internationally by developing high standards and educating both professionals and the public through seminars and workshops.
Prizes: First place winners within each category receive €1,500 and a Golden Eye Award. The organization also sponsors their trip to Amsterdam for the award ceremony. Second and third place winners receive a Golden Eye Award and a diploma. The winner of the World Press Photo of the Year receives €10,000 and a Canon camera, as well as trip sponsorship. All winning photographs travel around the world as part of an exhibition that visits 45 countries.
World Press’s Multimedia Contest is only three years only, and a welcome addition to a field overflowing with photography contests but lacking in multimedia ones. The contest awards prizes in three categories: Online Short, Online Feature, and Interactive Documentary.
Prizes: As in the WPP Photography Contest, the first place winner in each category receives a cash award of €1,500 and a Golden Eye Award. Winners of second and third prizes receive a Golden Eye Award and a diploma.
Recent winners: You can view all of the 2013 winners here.
The NPPA was founded in 1947 and is based in North Carolina. It holds contests, seminars and workshops for the growth of its photojournalist members. Members must adhere to a code of ethics developed to heighten journalism standards. Its annual contest is widely renowned, and comprises four categories: Stills, Video, Editing and Multimedia, with multiple subcategories within each.
Prizes: There is no cash prize, but the prestige of winning this award can certainly help you make a name for yourself.
Recent Winners: You can view all of the 2013 winners in each subcategory here.
POYi started out in 1944 as a photography contest sponsored by the Missouri School of Journalism. Today, it’s an international program that receives tens of thousands of submissions. The winning photographs are exhibited and published annually in a book, as well as featured on the website.
Prizes: Trophy and cash prizes.
Recent Winners: Winners of the 70th annual POYi contest can be seen here.
The IPA is now in its 11th year. Its annual competition, though relatively new by comparison to the NPPA, World Press and POY contests, is well-known and open to professionals, non-professionals, and student photographers across the globe. Categories aren’t limited to photojournalism; they also include advertising, architecture, and fine art photography.
Prizes: The overall winner, named International Photographer of the Year, receives the Lucie statue and a cash prize of $10,000. Discovery of the Year and Deeper Perspective of the Year winners receive the Lucie statue and $5,000. The Moving Images Photographer of the Year, a new category for multimedia, receives a Lucie statue and $2,500.
Recent Winners: You can view a gallery of IPA recipients and their images here.
This competition, sponsored by the photography industry magazine PDN, has a Photojournalism/Sports/Documentary category as well as a Video category that should be of interest to visual journalists.
Prizes: Numerous cash awards ranging from $1,000 to a $15,000 Photographic Portraiture award. Smaller awards include portfolio bundles, subscriptions to the magazine and tickets to photography expos.
Recent Winners: Check out the gallery of 2013 winners here.