Documentary Family Awards

Documentary Family Awards

Deadline: September 15, 2020
Entry Fee: Single Photo – Free, from $18 to $23
Prizes: $250, $350, $500, Honourable Mentions, Digital Award Badge, publication in the journal

We strive to showcase a diverse cross-section of family life. The gritty, the beautiful, and the highs and lows, all through a well-curated collection of award-winning photographs.

The unifying theme of the Documentary Family Awards is the celebration of “family.” Family in all the different ways it is lived, cherished and experienced. We encourage photographers to push the definition of family to be more inclusive of families not just living in the same household or sharing the same lineage, but to acknowledge that family is what we make of it. Family to us means sharing some portion of life with the ones you love; sharing laughter and sadness, tragedy and victory, success and regret, compassion and support. Family encompasses the people we came into this world with and the larger community that holds us together. The sweet simplicities and deeper complexities found in the comradeship of humanity.


Feature Categories

These three categories are open for this award cycle only.

  • Black Lives Matter
    In this open-ended category we are looking for photographs that focus on black lives. Submissions may encompass family life, the larger family of a community or your interpretation of this theme. Our intention for this category is to create a space where photography is used to humanize black families.
  • Pandemic
    In the last 6 months, COVID-19 has affected families all over the world. For many people, the routines and details of daily life have changed either drastically or in smaller ways. As documentary photographers many of us have played an important role in creating a visual record of this time in history. For this category we would like to see your best photographs that portray life within the family unit during a pandemic. Consider how details, family scenes, relationships and emotions have all been affected by the virus. Submissions in this category may also include self-portraits.
  • The Unconventional Portrait
    A portrait represents the photographer’s perspective of an individual during a moment in time. While our classic environmental portrait category has looked for portraits where the environment plays a role in conveying information about the subject to the viewer, during this round we are opening the door to exploring the idea of a portrait. The unconventional portrait is an opportunity to submit photographs that capture a person’s essence in a more artful, abstract, straightforward or conceptual way. We look forward to seeing submissions that reflect different interpretations of this theme.

Classic Categories

From birth to portraiture to real life to images made on your phone, our classic categories allow you to explore all aspects of family life.

  • Nothing Is Better Than Real Life
    Real life is the authentic, unscripted moments in our everyday life. For some, these are extraordinary events and for others, it can simply be the small moments of accomplishment or defeat. This category is wide open, as an opportunity for you to enter photographs that explore all aspects of family life.
  • Birth
    The birthing process includes a depth and complexity that goes far beyond the climax of life entering this world. Therefore, we are looking for photographs that represent not just the final moments of labor but also the supporting events and landmarks that lead towards a child being born. Submissions are open to work from everything leading up to, during, and after the birthing process.
    Note: The Birth category is uncensored. Share your best work with us and we will share the award-winning photos on the appropriate channels. A reminder that photographers entering this (and any) category must have permission from any recognizable subjects to use their photos publicly.
  • Cell Phone Only (Photos Taken On Your Phone)
    The best camera is the one you have with you and more often than not it can be our phones. This category is about sharing family documentary work both personal and professional, created with your phone’s camera.
    Toning: Professional toning of images in this category is not required. However, if you do want to convert to black and white or add contrast etc, we recommend toning your images with Snapseed by Google (iOS or Android ). However, judges will be more receptive to the toning options available on phones so if your photos have an Instagram filter applied, for example, that is acceptable.
  • Photo Series
    The Photo Series category gives you the freedom to tell larger stories, show growth and change in your subjects, or simply provide a broader perspective on a topic.
    There are no limitations on the timeframe in which the series can be photographed and the timeline and order does not have to be linear. For example, photos can be from a day in the life, a birth, or perhaps from multiple families and subjects over a longer period of time. You can explore a specific theme or present your personal perspective of this genre. These are just examples and we want to encourage creativity in not only the images, but the concept itself.

Guest & Live Broadcast Judges

  • Lawrence Jackson
  • Leslie Kershaw
  • Jide Alakija
  • Jacque Jackson
  • Lafayette Hicks
  • Sarah Rabideau

How to Enter

  • Collect your favourite photos that match each category
  • 12 photos per single image category and up to 8 photos per series
  • Resize your photos to 2000px on the long side
  • Submit your free entry option and additional paid entries with one form.

Awards & Prizes

  • 1st Place $500
  • 2nd Place $350
  • 3rd Place $250
  • Judges Choice Award – 6 free entries in the next awards
  • 1st Place Category Award – 1st Place $250 per category
  • Top 10 Awards – Ranking from 1st to 10th per category
  • Honourable Mentions – Up to 10 unranked honorable mentions per category
  • Magazine – All top 10 award-winners will be included in our year end publication.
  • Digital Award Badge – All award winners and honourable mentions

All awarded photographs and honorable mentions are published in our winner’s gallery. Photographers and their work are promoted across our online platforms and press releases.

Entry Fee

  • Single Photo – Free
    One free entry per photographer.
  • 6+ Photos – $18
    Submit 6 more photos for $18. Additional photos $2.50 each.
  • Photo Series – $23
    Additional series $16 each. Enter 8 photos per series.
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