Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest 2023

Deadline: 30th of November, 2023

Applications for the Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest 2023 are now open. Over the last 20 years, readers have submitted more than 470,000 images to Smithsonian’s annual photo contest. These photos have transported us to the far corners of Earth, captured spectacular, split-second moments and introduced us to fascinating people and unique landscapes.

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

  • 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.
  • Artistic Images: Visuals that use photography as a creative and imaginative platform to express an idea or concept. These images can be manipulated in any method, either through photo editing software or other techniques.
  • Drone/Aerial: Any photograph captured using an unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone. Images shot from planes/helicopters are also accepted.


  • Grand Prize winner: $2,500.
  • Category winners: $500
  • Readers’ Choice winner: $500


  • The Grand Prize, Readers’ Choice prize, Natural World, Travel, People, The American Experience, Artistic Images and Drone/Aerial 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, parents, siblings and spouses) and others living in their households are not eligible for any prize.
  • To be eligible for any category, a photograph must have been shot by the entrant since January 1, 2020. This date applies to all images in a composite. The contestant certifies that he/she is the sole creator and copyright owner of the submitted photograph.
  • You may enter up to 15 photographs in each category for a total contest submission of 90 photographs.
  • The Smithsonian will determine winners’ eligibility in its sole discretion.


Applications for the Smithsonian magazine 20th Annual Photo Contest ends November 30, 2023, at 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Click to apply

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