Still Photojournalism Division – 2024 Categories

The Best of Photojournalism – Still Photojournalism division recognizes visual journalists who, working through the medium of still photography, tell stories that are relevant to their communities, helping them understand trends and issues so that they can make informed decisions. Judges will look at technical excellence as well as composition, but the key factor will be the journalism that is demonstrated.

Entries in this category are created and entered by individual photojournalists – there are no team categories. Entries will be submitted as individual images, stories or portfolios, depending upon the category.

All entries in the single-image categories must have been published. In the story categories, more than one half of the images must have been published. This applies to the portfolio categories, as well – all single images must have been published and more than one half of the images in each story must have been published. Published is defined as having gone through an editing process and being made available, in print or online, on a platform with other works of journalism. Self-published work is not eligible. You may be asked to supply proof of publication. Self-published work is allowed so long as it happened during the eligibility timeframe (January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023). Failure to provide proof of publication may lead to disqualification.

Photojournalists may work as either members of a publication staff or as independent photographers. The work must have been made with the intent of journalistic publication, either in print or online – work created as sponsored content or for a company, brand, team or other entity is not allowed. All images MUST have credits removed – no names or publications should appear in captions. 

NOTE: Photographers can only enter one of the full-portfolio Photojournalist of the Year categories (International, National, Community or Emerging), but may also enter the Sports Photojournalist of the Year. Please also be aware that the method for determining which Photojournalist of the Year category you should enter has changed from being defined by newsroom size and circulation to what is being covered in the images and the intended audience. For each of the POY categories, the judges will be looking at both the depth of coverage as well as the breadth of coverage. 

Please refer to the Technical Guidelines section of the competition website for more details and contact [email protected] for more information or questions about the contest.

Photojournalist of the Year, International: A portfolio of images created by an individual that must include work made in at least two countries. The entry should contain up to 40 images (blank or black slides to separate content will not count towards total). At least two picture stories are required containing up to 12 images each. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). All single images and more one half of each story’s images must have been published.

Photojournalist of the Year, National: A portfolio of images created by an individual that covers their country’s national news. The entry should contain up to 40 images (blank or black slides to separate content will not count towards total). No international pictures may be entered in this category. At least two picture stories are required containing up to 12 images each. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). Please note that only one of the three POY categories can be entered by any photojournalist. All single images and more one half of each story’s images must have been published.

Photojournalist of the Year, Community: A portfolio of images created by an individual for a specific regional community. (This replaces the Small Market category from previous years.) The entry should contain up to 40 images (blank or black slides to separate content will not count towards total). At least two picture stories are required containing up to 12 images each. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). Please note that only one of the three POY categories can be entered by any photojournalist. All single images and more one half of each story’s images must have been published.

Sports Photojournalist of The Year: A portfolio consisting of sports related action and/or sports feature photography created by an individual photographer. The included images can be published or not but must have been photographed during the calendar year. The entry should contain up to 40 images (blank or black slides to separate content will not count towards the total). At least one pictures story is required – containing up to 12 images each. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). The picture story entered should be a STORY and not a group of images. All single images and more one half of each story’s images must have been published.

Emerging Vision Photojournalist of The Year: A portfolio of images created by an up-and-coming photographer that demonstrates a fresh approach to visual journalism through story selection and compositional techniques. The spirit of this division is to recognize photojournalists at the beginning of their professional careers. To be eligible, entrants must have ended their college studies or otherwise transitioned from an academic environment to a professional one within the two year period prior to the cutoff date for entry eligibility in the full contest. (For example, in this year’s contest, entrants should have graduated or left their academic programs between 1/1/22 and 12/31/23). This division does not discriminate between emerging photographers from 2- or 4- year undergraduate programs or 1-2 year graduate programs, nor does it preclude photographers who choose to begin a professional career directly after high school graduation. Entrants do not need to have been in programs related to photography or journalism to be eligible. Prior winners in this category are not eligible to enter. Photojournalists from any news publication, wire service or magazine may enter. Independent photographers may also enter this category. The entry should contain up to 40 images (blank or black slides to separate content will not count towards the total). At least two picture stories are required containing up to 12 images each. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). All single images and more one half of each story’s images must have been published.

Cliff Edom New America Award: In urban communities and rural towns, the spirit of diversity is celebrated and witnessed in everyday life. Our goal is to recognize photographic storytelling that focuses on communities, diverse groups, and issues in America that are often under-covered in the media.

Acknowledging the genius and effectiveness of Cliff Edom’s vision, approach and passion for teaching, we ask you to contribute your entries. Cliff Edom (1907-1991) began his experimentation in photographic education in 1943. His purpose was to provide access to the community life of a small town (and local communities) for photographers so that they could hone and develop photojournalistic skills.

The entry may contain up to 24 images. Long-term stories up to four years are eligible but 25% of the images must have been taken or initially published in 2023. In the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). More than one-half of the images must have been published.

Breaking News: A photograph from a spontaneous or breaking news event including active conflict zones.

Breaking News Story: A picture story from a spontaneous or breaking news event including active conflict zones. The entry may contain up to 12 images. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). More than one-half of the images must have been published.

General News: An issue-based or general news photograph. (Breaking news and political single photographs should be entered in their respective categories.)

General News Story: An issue-based or general news picture story. (Breaking news and political picture stories should be entered in their respective categories.) The entry may contain up to 12 images. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). More than one-half of the images must have been published.

Feature: A single photograph that captures the human-interest of daily life or a fresh view of an everyday scene in a found situation.

Feature Story: A picture story that captures the human-interest of daily life. The entry may contain up to 12 images. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). More than one-half of the images must have been published.

Politics: A photograph from election coverage, coverage of political candidates, and other political issues.

Politics Story: A picture story from election coverage, coverage of political candidates and other political issues. The entry may contain up to 12 images. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). More than one-half of the images must have been published.

Science: A photograph that illuminates a specific scientific issue, story, breakthrough, or crisis. Reporting on the climate crisis belongs here. Reporting on the pandemic belongs here. Reporting on issues related to the natural world belong here, as do science-related stories of smaller scale such as local policy or environmental issues.

Science Story: A picture story that illuminates a specific scientific issue, story, breakthrough or crisis. Reporting on the climate crisis belongs here. Reporting on the pandemic belongs here. Reporting on issues related to the natural world belong here, as do science-related stories of smaller scale such as local policy or environmental issues. This entry may contain up to 12 images. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). More than one-half of the images must have been published.

Portrait/Personality: A single photograph that captures a unique aspect of a person’s character or personality.

Portrait Series: Multiple photographs that capture a unique aspect of one or more person’s character or personality. The unifying theme must be held together by a narrative thread, consistent photographic style and/or compelling environment with an obvious connection between the individual(s) being documented. This entry may contain up to 12 images. Within the caption block of the first image in a series, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). More than one-half of the images must have been published.

Sports Action: A peak action photograph that captures the spirit of a sports competition – either on the part of an individual or a team.

Sports Feature: A sports-related feature photograph. The event covered should be separate from the game action or outside of the field of play.

Sports Picture Story: A series of pictures that depicts a story line or single theme that build a visual narrative. Individual game galleries should not be entered here. This entry may contain up to 12 images. Within the caption block of the first image in a story, you must include a short overall story description at the top of the caption (up to 100 words). More than one-half of the images must have been published.