Smithsonian Photo Contest
Smithsonian magazine 18th Annual Photo Contest begins March 31, 2020, and ends November 30, 2020, at 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. By submitting an entry, each contestant agrees to the rules of the contest and states that he or she is 18 years old or older.
Who may enter:
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, parents, 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.
What to enter:
The following six contest categories are drawn from subjects of special interest to Smithsonian magazine:
1. Natural World: Animals, plants and landscapes; geological or climatological features; and scientific processes and endeavors.
2. Travel: Locales, peoples or activities in the United States and abroad that convey a sense of place.
3. People: Portraits and photos of groups or individuals.
4. 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.
5. Altered Images: Photographs manipulated for artistic purposes by applying digital and/or traditional special effects.
6. Mobile: Any photograph taken with a mobile device (phone or tablet).
To be eligible for any category, a photograph must have been shot by the entrant since January 1, 2018. 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.
Cropped photos are eligible in all categories. We do not accept digitally or otherwise enhanced or altered photos, except for those entered in the Altered Images category. Minor adjustments, including the removal of sensor dust or scratches on scans of negatives, dodging and burning, sharpening, contrast, toning, slight color adjustment and conversion to grayscale are acceptable for all categories. The addition and subtraction of objects is not permitted except in the Altered Images category. If the judges determine that a photographer has altered his or her photo, they reserve the right to move the photo to Altered Images or to disqualify it. Image composites including HDR and stitched panoramas will be judged as Altered Images.
For a photo in which a person is recognizable, you must be prepared to provide a model release from the subject or, in the case of a minor, the subject's parent or guardian, to the Smithsonian upon request. A sample model release is available here.
Similarly, entrants whose photos depict other people's work (such as sculptures, statues, paintings, and other copyrightable works) must be prepared to provide a release from the rights holder to the Smithsonian upon request. When photographing the work of others, it must be as an object in its environment and not a full-frame close-up of another person's creation. A sample art release is available here.
If the entrant is unable to provide all required releases, the Smithsonian in its sole discretion reserves the right to disqualify the submission, seek to secure the required releases, or permit the submission to remain in the contest.
Photos that violate or infringe upon another person's rights, including but not limited to copyright, are not eligible.
Photos that contain sexually explicit, nude, obscene, violent or other objectionable or inappropriate content, as determined by the Smithsonian in its sole discretion, are ineligible for all categories of this contest.
Entrants must disclose the circumstances under which an image was captured as well as any instructions given to a subject.
The welfare of a subject and its environment must be placed ahead of the desire to capture a photograph. Upon entering the contest, entrants certify that subjects were treated with respect and dignity, and that no people, wildlife or the environment were harmed in creating a photograph.
If baiting was used to attract wildlife, or special equipment such as camera traps and drones used to capture the photograph, this must be disclosed. Live baiting of wildlife is not permitted.
How to Enter:
Please submit photographs and requested information online through our website at smithsonianmag.com/photocontest. You may submit up to 15 photographs per category for a contest total of 90 submissions. In order to be displayed in our 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.
We do not accept photographs submitted through the mail and do not accept more than one contestant per e-mail address. High-quality scans of non-digital photographs are acceptable. Digital photographs should be taken at the highest resolution possible.
Finalists must be prepared to submit an original, unedited digital file or an original negative, print or slide. Original negatives, prints or slides will be returned to finalists. The Smithsonian Institution reserves the right to disqualify incomplete entries and/or contestants who are unable to submit, upon request, a high-resolution photograph of at least 300 dpi at 3,000 pixels on the longest side or an original photo negative, print or slide. Mobile photographs are exempt from this size requirement, but must be submitted at their highest resolution upon request.
The Smithsonian may collect a photograph's metadata upon entry.
You retain your rights to your photograph; however, by entering the contest, you grant the Smithsonian Institution (and those authorized by the Smithsonian) a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion of the magazine and its website, exhibition, and commercial products, including but not limited to Smithsonian Institution publications. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit as feasible. The Smithsonian Institution will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.
The contest begins on March 31, 2020. All entries must be received through Smithsonianmag.com by 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on November 30, 2020.
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