Photographers: Enter These Contests To Win More Than $39,000 in Prizes

photo contest
Courtney Carmody under Creative Commons

Is it second nature for you to snap a picture when you see a particularly beautiful sunset or your cat does something positively adorable? Did you know you could turn these images into cash?

We’ve already covered a few ways to make money with your photos, such as working as a pet photographer, selling stock photos or trying travel photography. But while these are all businesses you could run full time or on the side, you can also make money without committing as much time by entering photography contests with cash prizes.

The four competitions below will dish out more than $39,000 in prizes, and one photo contest has a grand prize of $15,000. Here’s how to get a piece of the action.

The Weather Channel’s “It’s Amazing Out There” Photo Contest

Ever see the craziest cloud you could imagine and snap a pic? How about a breathtaking iceberg floating across the bay? If you have any great images of nature, adventure or weather, consider entering them in The Weather Channel’s “It’s Amazing Out There” Photo Contest.

Judges will select grand, second- and third-prize winners, and Weather Channels fans will vote on one photo to receive a “public choice award.” The grand prize winner takes home $15,000, second place is $5,000, third place is $1,000, and the people’s choice winner takes home $1,000.

For a shot at winning, be sure to enter by July 16. Go to the contest website and upload your photos relating to weather, nature and/or adventure. Photos must have been taken between 2013 and 2015, be smaller than 5 MB in size, and be accompanied by a caption of no more than 200 characters. You can’t enter a photo you’ve entered in any other photo contest with a $300 or greater prize. You also can’t enter images commissioned by a media organization or published for pay.

This contest is open to permanent, legal residents of the 50 U.S. states and D.C. aged 18 or older. You can enter as many photos as you’d like, and complete rules and photo guidelines are available here.

Smithsonian 2015 Photo Contest

Celebrate people, places and culture with the Smithsonian’s 2015 Photo Contest, which runs through November 30. The contest has six different categories, and you can submit up to 15 images in each one, including:

  • The Natural World: plants, animals, landscapes, etc.
  • Travel: U.S. and abroad
  • People
  • The American Experience: “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: manipulated for artistic purposes, including alterations to color, tone, photo composites, etc.
  • Mobile: best photograph in any other category taken by a phone or tablet

A seventh category, Sustainable Travel, grants an award to a photographer who “demonstrates leadership and an active commitment to travel for environmentally responsible purposes.” Entries in this category must be accompanied by a 100-word caption describing the story behind the photo. The Sustainable Travel prize is only open to U.S. and D.C. residents.

Nine winners will receive prizes, including one $2,500 grand prize. Each category’s winner will receive $500, the reader’s choice winner will receive $500, and the Sustainable Travel award winner will receive two airplane tickets. Complete rules are available here. If your photos include any recognizable subjects, you’ll need to get them to sign model releases, and you can’t enter a photo that has won another prize. All entrants must be 18 years of age or older and all images must have been taken between 2013 and 2015.

Russian Geographical Society Contest

Have you ever been to Russia? If so, do you have any great images of the country?

The Russian Geographical Society is looking for entries for their contest celebrating Russia as “The Most Beautiful Country.” In the past, this contest was just open to Russian nationals, but now they’ve loosened up their rules to allow foreigners to enter the competition. The contest winner will become the “RGS Photographer of the Year,” and receive $9,300 and an expedition.

Professional and amateur photographers of any age are eligible to compete in this contest by submitting images of Russia with an emphasis on preserving nature and promoting environmental respect through photography. All entries must be received by August 18. For more information, go to the Russian Geographical Society’s webpage.

Fields of Corn Photo Contest

The National Corn Growers Association is looking for your farm-fresh images of corn. Yes, corn. Enter the Fields of Corn Photo Contest for a chance at winning a $500 prize. You can submit as many entries as you’d like, but they must be received by November 30. The five categories you can enter are: Farm Family Lifestyle, Farming Challenges, Growing Field Corn, Scenery/Landscape, and Still Life from the Farm.

The public will vote on entries via Facebook, “liking” their favorites, and then a panel of judges will select a winner from the Top 10 in each category. The grand prize is $500, and in each category, a first-place winner will receive $100, and a second-place winner will bring home $75.

You must be a legal U.S. resident to compete, and all entries and copyrights will become property of the NCGA. These images can be used for NCGA marketing purposes and communications, so make sure you’re comfortable with that before submitting to this contest. For complete rules, check here.

Your Turn: Have you ever entered or won a photo contest? Will you enter any of these ones?

Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.