Technical Guidelines

Entries for the 2024 Best of Photojournalism competition will be entered via the online portal, which will go live on December 18, 2023.

Entries will be accepted from December 18, 2023, through 11:59 P.M. PT on January 21, 2024 January 24, 2024.  All entries must have been made between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023. The exception is story category entries which may contain images made in prior years but the majority of the work must have been made or initially published between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023.

Entry is free for NPPA members in good standing at the close of the contest (January 24, 2024) and $75 for non-members. If you choose not to join the NPPA, the fee will be collected during the entry process. Membership status will be checked at the closing of the entry time frame. Non-members who have not paid the entry fee may be disqualified. If you are entering on behalf of others (e.g., you are a contest editor), you may not use your membership status to waive the registration fee for others – each individual entrant must be a member or pay the fee. On team entries, if one of the team members is a member of the NPPA, the entry fee is waived. 

Each entrant may have up to 20 entries spread across any combination of disciplines (Still Photojournalism, Picture Editing, Online Video, Presentation and Innovation, Video Photojournalism, Video Editing and Documentary) and categories. This 20-entry limit applies to all disciplines and all entrants including Video Photojournalism and Video Editing. Multiple entries in one category will count towards the total number of entries. (For example, if you enter two images in the Sports Action category, that accounts for two of your 20 total entries.) A single photograph, story, video or package may not be entered on its own in more than one division, with one exception: the same video/story/package entry may be submitted in both Video Editing and Video Photojournalism, exclusively. No other cross-division entries are allowed. A photo may be entered in both a single category and as part of a picture story, portfolio, or compilation. A video may also be entered in both a single category and as part of a compilation. Each entry counts as one towards the 20-entry total.

Please read the individual Category descriptions for more information as some categories have additional restrictions.

Thumbnails will be required for video entries and should be 1920 x 1080 pixels in a JPG format. Online entries will need a screen grab to be uploaded. These will be uploaded with the media or links on either the first page of an entry or the second.

Non-English language videos may be entered but must be subtitled, there is no promise that the judges will be fluent in other languages.

For some categories, you may be asked when material was first published or broadcast.

The rules as posted to the Best of Photojournalism web site are considered final. Please feel free to send any questions along to [email protected].

Preparing Your Entries

We will not fix or recategorize any entries that do not follow the guidelines. Entries that do not meet the criteria or are improperly categorized will be disqualified from the competition. 

Still Photojournalism

Entrants to the Still Photojournalism division must ensure their pictures provide an accurate and fair representation of the scene they witnessed so the audience is not misled.

Photographs must have complete, accurate captions and associated metadata as described below. Photo credits or other identifying information must be removed from the caption (but may remain in other metadata fields).

No multiple exposures, panoramas or stitched photos, produced either in-camera or with software, will be accepted.

Photographs may not be altered or manipulated during post-processing except for basic toning/contrast adjustments or by cropping. See the Visual Integrity guidelines for further information.

Entrants must be prepared to provide file(s) as recorded by the camera for images that proceed to the final stages of the contest when requested. These file(s) will be requested between February 12 and February 22, 2024. Failure to provide these files when requested may lead to the disqualification of the entry.

Please remove any personal tags, rating or color codes.

File names in story and portfolio categories must begin with a sequence number (01, 02, etc.) to ensure the final round judges see them in order. Each image should be saved as an RGB file. Do not save them as CMYK.

Images should be sized to be 3000 pixels on the long dimension.

Image files must be saved as a JPG with a quality setting of High (9 on a 12 point scale, 8 on a 10 point scale). File sizes should be no more than 5 MB.

Including the correct metadata and file formats in your entry is critical to the smooth running of the competition as well as the post-event archiving of material. The judges will rely upon the entrants to ensure the following standards are met. Failure to meet these requirements may result in a disqualification of an entry.

Image metadata can be entered in whichever image management program you are most familiar with. So, if you already use Photo Mechanic, Bridge, Lightroom, MediaPro or some other tool, you can enter the metadata in your familiar working environment.

If you do not currently have a preferred image management tool, Camera Bits has a free 1-month trial version of Photo Mechanic.

The following IPTC fields are required for entries:

  • Caption/Description – See Caption Guide below.
  • City, State/Province and Country
  • Date – The date the image was made.
  • Photographer and Credit/Byline (please fill in both) – The name of the photojournalist who made the image. Please be consistent from photo to photo. For example, please use Joe E Smith for each image, not Joe Smith on one, Joseph Smith on another, J.E. Smith on a third, and so on.
  • Source – Your employer or client.
  • Copyright – Who holds the copyright on the image (this may be the entrant, employer or client).
  • Contact Email – Please use the same address here as you will use when you create your account for submission.
  • Contact Phone – Please use the same phone number here as you will use when you create your account for submission.

Caption Guide:

Captions must be accurate and answer the basic questions of good journalism. They must be written in English only and follow basic AP style. Here are the basic AP guidelines. 

  • The first sentence of the caption should follow this structure:
    • The first clause should describe who is in the photograph and what is going on within the photo in the present tense followed by the city, state or province and country (if outside the United States) as appropriate. The last portion of the first sentence should be the date. Use absolute dates and absolute locations, meaning you should have a date of, “Monday, December 18, 2023” and not just, “Monday” or “last Tuesday.”
  • Captions must give attribution of action not seen (e.g. the scene of accident where more than 10 died, according to police).
  • Names should always be listed in order, left to right, unless it is impossible for the caption to read normally otherwise.
  • With multiple people identified within the caption, enough representations to placement are necessary that there is no confusion for who is who.
  • The second sentence of the caption is used to give context to the news event or describes why the photo is significant.
  • If in doubt of the need for a second sentence, leave it off.
  • Whenever possible, try to keep captions to no more than two concise sentences, while including the relevant information.
  • Try to anticipate what information the reader will need.  

Example: Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., delivers his policy on Iraq speech in Clinton, Iowa, on Sept. 12, 2007. Obama called for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. combat brigade.

(Adapted from the AP Style Guide)

If the photograph is a portrait, the caption must make it explicitly clear that the photograph is a portrait and was posed and directed.

For the story categories, 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). There may also be a fillable field for this in some categories.

How to Enter

When you select a category, you will see a window where you can drag and drop your image or images. In single-image categories, you’ll bring one image in. In multiple image categories, you can drag them in as a group. You will be able to change the order on this page as well.

Captions will be automatically read from the metadata (provided they are in the correct field). After uploading, click NEXT and you’ll see the images and their captions. You can edit the captions if needed – for instance, if you forgot to remove your credit information. Depending on server load, it may take a few moments for the captions to be encoded and displayed.

Picture Editing

For newspaper and magazine entries, you must convert the entry to JPG files. Please make sure they have been saved as RGB files and not CMYK. They should be at least 3000 pixels tall.

Double-page spreads should be combined into one JPG so judges can see how the entire page works. Multiple-page entries should have each single page or double-page spread entered as an individual JPG – you want the judges to experience turning the pages as your audience did.

How to Enter

When you select a category, you will see a window where you can drag and drop your image or images. In single-image categories, you’ll bring one image in. In multiple image categories, you can drag them in as a group. You will be able to change the order on this page as well.

For online galleries, when you select a category that requires a link or links, on the first page you will see a window where you can drag and drop a thumbnail of the page. When you click NEXT, you’ll be able to paste in the links that are part of the submission as well as a login and password combination if the work is behind a paywall. Presentation entries without thumbnails may be disqualified.

If you have a team entry, there will be a field to fill out on the second page for team members. Please include the entire team there as this is what will be published.

Video Photojournalism, Video Editing, Documentary and Online Video

All entries should be compressed for smooth playback online. Videos must be mp4 format at 720p resolution. If you already have a video compression tool that you’re familiar with, use it. If you don’t, Handbrake is a popular choice.

How to Enter

When you select a category, you will see a window where you can drag and drop your video file. Once it finishes uploading (there is a purple progress bar below the file as it uploads), click NEXT and you must upload a thumbnail on that screen. Video entries without thumbnails may be disqualified. 

If you have a team entry, there will be a field to fill out on the second page for team members. Please include the entire team there as this is what will be published.

After selecting your category, upload your video file by dragging it into the upload window.

After clicking NEXT, upload your thumbnail and add any team members.

Online Presentation and Innovation

Either web links or videos may be submitted, depending on the categories (web links are required for Innovation and Presentation categories).

How to Enter

When you select a category that requires a link or links, on the first page you will see a window where you can drag and drop a thumbnail of the page. When you click NEXT, you’ll be able to paste in the links that are part of the submission as well as a login and password combination if the work is behind a paywall. Presentation entries without thumbnails may be disqualified.