Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest 2018 ($2,500 Grand Prize)

Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest 2018 ($2,500 Grand Prize)

Deadline: November 30, 2018

What does an award-winning photograph look like? It can range from an captivating portrait of a family member to a moon-drenched landscape to movement captured at just the right time. The’s Annual Photo Contest 2018 is now open for submissions, and they’re looking for the best of the best.

The contest invites photographers from all around the world to submit photos drawn from subjects of special interest to Natural world, travel, People, The American Experience, Altered Images, and mobile.

Smithsonian magazine and place a Smithsonian lens on the world, looking at the topics and subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution — science, history, art, popular culture and innovation — and chronicling them every day for our diverse readership.


The following six contest categories are drawn from subjects of special interest to

  • Natural World: Animals, plants and landscapes; geological or climatological features; and scientific processes and endeavors;
  • Travel: Locales, peoples or activities in the United States and abroad that convey a sense of place;
  • People: Portraits and photos of groups or individuals;
  • The American Experience: Events, objects or activities connecting the American people to their history or their cultural heritage; photographs that tell us what it means to be an American and provide a sense of what it is like to live in this country;
  • Altered Images: Photographs manipulated for artistic purposes by applying digital and/or traditional special effects (i.e., colorizing, toning, collage, photo composites, HDR, etc.);
  • Mobile: Any photograph taken with a mobile device (phone or tablet).


Eight prizes will be awarded, as follows:

  • Grand Prize: $2,500
  • Category Winners: The winners of each of the six categories will receive $500.
  • Readers’ Choice: The winner of the online Readers’ Choice award will receive $500. One cash prize per person; winners may receive additional noncash prizes. Winners must sign a release and license, as well as a declaration of eligibility, and will be responsible for paying any notary public fees or taxes they may owe on a prize.
  • Online Features: The Smithsonian may select photos for highlight on its website or display in a publicly accessible contest archive; such selections will be made in the Smithsonian’s sole discretion.


  • The Grand Prize, Readers’ Choice prize, Natural World, Travel, People, The American Experience, Altered Images and Mobile category prizes are open to photographers who are 18 years old or older;
  • Individuals affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, including employees, emeriti, Regents, trustees, interns, volunteers, fellows, research associates and their immediate families (children, siblings and spouses), and others living in their households, are not eligible for any prize. The Smithsonian will determine winners’ eligibility in its sole discretion.


To apply, submit photographs and requested information online. You may submit up to 15 photographs per category for a contest total of 90 submissions.

In order to be displayed in the’s online gallery without being stretched or distorted, photographs must be submitted in .jpeg, .jpg or .gif format, edited for web in sRGB color space, at least 2,000 pixels wide and no larger than 10 MB. You must complete a separate form for each photo submitted.

For more information, visit Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest.