Sony World Photography Awards – Professional Competition

Sony World Photography Awards - Professional Competition

Deadline: January 14, 2021
Entry Fee: Free
Prizes: $25,000, valuable prizes, publication in the book

  • Free to enter and open to anyone submitting a series of five to ten images per category
  • Ten diverse categories to enter, including the new Portfolio category for 2021 competition
  • Awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place artists, plus up to ten shortlisted photographers per category
  • One overall winner selected as the Photographer of the Year and recipient of the $25,000 (USD) prize
  • Once you enter the Professional competition you cannot submit work to the Open or Youth competitions

The Professional competition rewards and showcases the world’s most outstanding bodies of work.

Judges are looking for series that are technically brilliant, exciting and offer a fresh perspective on what contemporary photography can do. They want to uncover work that would otherwise be unseen, and share it with a worldwide audience.

The Awards can open doors to publishing deals, gallery representation and worldwide exhibitions. The Professional competition offers established photographers a global platform to share and gain recognition for their personal projects.

Artists can enter multiple series of works to the following categories: Architecture & Design, Creative, Documentary Projects, Environment, Landscape, Natural World & Wildlife, Portraiture, Still Life, Sport, and Portfolio.

New for this year’s Professional competition is the Portfolio category. Photographers can enter five to 10 images taken in the past year that encapsulate their photographic practice. Images do not need to be related to each other in terms of narrative, subject matter or style. Here the judges will be looking at the quality and technical skills evident throughout the group of images. The Architecture category has been expanded for this year, asking entrants to also submit their best design related photographs.


  • Architecture & Design
    The judges are looking for the ability to capture three-dimensional worlds in two dimensions, whilst retaining the original qualities. Subject matter can be wide-ranging from structures and interiors to exteriors and urban landscapes designed with an architectural approach. Key to the project are elements such as light, scale, angles, lines and design features.
  • Creative
    Judges are looking to reward originality, experimentation and imagination. This category actively encourages the creative use of the medium of photography in all its forms, from photograms to cutting-edge photographic techniques. Subject matter can be varied and may include abstract and conceptual ideas, but a creative concept and thematic link between the images is key.
  • Documentary Projects
    The judges want bodies of work that give the facts and information about a chosen subject. This could offer insight into a contemporary issue or clearly present a factual story with a news or current affairs agenda. Image processing is allowed but it is the responsibility of the photographer to not manipulate or enhance the images in such a way that they distort or change the reality of the scene shot.
  • Environment
    Judges are seeking bodies of work that showcase the surrounding or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates. Work should be fine art in its approach and address environmental issues affecting the world today.
  • Landscape
    Showing spaces within the world in all their varieties, from large scale aerials to intimate views. Judges will focus on the aesthetic quality of the final images.
  • Portraiture
    Judges are looking for interesting, original, strong and evocative photographs, and the category should be interpreted in its widest sense. The resulting images should demonstrate a likeness to the subject and may convey expression, emotion and / or personality.
  • Portfolio
    This category is dedicated to images that aren’t related to each other in subject matter or narrative, but where the quality of the image and the photographer’s technical skills are evident and consistent throughout the submission. Photographers will be requested to submit five (5) to ten (10) images.
  • Wildlife & Nature
    Judges are looking for artistic images of our natural, physical or material world. The category should be understood in its widest sense, from flora and fauna to animals and wildlife.
  • Still Life
    Often a group or an arrangement of objects, Still Life typically depicts inanimate subject matters. The approach can be classic or innovative and bold. Judges will closely consider the interpretation of the subject (composition, lighting and framing) when viewing the work.
  • Sport
    Judges are looking for images that capture the intensity, emotions and action of the chosen sport subject. It could be professional or amateur, the focus could be on the sportsperson, the sport environment, the effort expended, the struggle or conflict or the rewards, but a strong narrative must be present.


  • Photographer of the Year receives $25,000 (USD), a range of Sony digital imaging equipment
  • Ten category winners receive flights and accommodation to the Awards ceremony in London, a range of Sony digital imaging equipment, publication in the Sony World Photography Awards book
  • Second and third place winners receive Awards ceremony ticket, publication in the Sony World Photography Awards book


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