Final weeks to apply for Istanbul Photo Awards

Anadolu Agency Photo Awards winner hails contest as ‘great launching pad for career,’ urges professional photogs to enter

There are only a few weeks left to apply for Anadolu Agency's 2020 Istanbul Photo Awards, a contest seen as a “must enter” competition by many professional photographers.

The international news photography contest will accept applications until Jan. 31. This year marks the sixth anniversary of the contest, which is open to professional photographers worldwide.

The Istanbul Photo Awards is organized by Anadolu Agency, which has worked with a great many photojournalists throughout its 100 years in journalism and aims to support the profession of photojournalism.

Adam Pretty, an Australian sports photographer who won the 2017 Istanbul Photo Awards in the Sports Single category, hailed the competition as “one of the biggest and most respected awards.”

“Pretty much everyone I know and work with enters it, so I would say it has been a big success,” he told Anadolu Agency via email.

The contest has “been a big influence and really helpful to my career in recent years as well,” he added.

Pretty began his career in 1997 as a news photographer at The Sydney Morning Herald, and in 1998 moved to sports photography at Getty Images. Since then he has been based in such far-flung locations as Los Angeles, Sydney, Beijing, Tokyo, and Munich.

“I will continue to support the awards and suggest it to other photographers to enter, and I know my colleagues see it as a ‘must enter’ competition during the awards season as it is a serious photojournalism competition, not just another photography contest,” he added.

According to Pretty, awards are very important for photographers and helping them gain recognition for their work.

“It also helps you assess the year that you have had and gives you a really good platform to share your work with colleagues when preparing your entry, and if you are lucky enough to be recognized it also gives you a platform to have your work published around the world,” he said.

“I was really excited to be fortunate enough to be recognized in the Istanbul Photo Awards as it was for some work that I was really happy with and was hopefully totally original, and hadn’t been previously recognized,” he said.

“So it gave me a big boost and pushed me to keep working on a similar story, which I did, and I was able to capture some other really nice imagery and continue the series.”

'Contests can help the industry'

Pretty highlighted the importance of having “proper ethics and training” in how one should cover a story, explaining: “Awards have a responsibility to help with this.”

“Contests can help the industry as sometimes work that isn’t published in the mainstream media is given a great platform to be seen in a competition and then hopefully published, so it is just another outlet for sharing the best photography for the year,” he added.

Pretty also explained what makes a photograph prize-worthy for him: “For a sports photograph I want to see something totally unique and original that I haven’t seen before, also combining a number of different elements into a single photograph or story, aesthetically beautiful, with strong action, graphics, shapes, and lighting can all combine to make a great sports image or worthy of an award.”

According to Pretty, winning an award is “an amazing boost as it can give you much-needed exposure for your work and open doors to different publications and assignments.”

He highlighted the importance of presenting works to an international jury and being recognized: “[This] often means you are on the right track with your photography and hopefully leads you to keep pushing and improving and photographing fresh stories and ideas.”

“A prize can also give you a much-needed financial boost to continue a project or work on something that is a tough sell to an editor or publication,” he added.

Seeking the offbeat

Giving tips for the 2020 award applications, Pretty said: “For sports, I think some of the major events are often pretty heavily photographed, so if you don’t have amazing imagery from a mainstream event, try and enter something more offbeat or unusual that will be fresh and stop the judges for a few seconds and make them think or ask a question.”

He suggests potential applicants show their work to as many trustworthy people as they can such as photographers, editors, partner, or close relatives before completing an entry.

“Ask questions, get opinions to help guide you,” he added.

“Above all be original, don’t enter recycled work, make it your own so that it stands out as something unique and take care to present it in the best way possible, as it can be a great launching pad for your career or you are fortunate enough to be recognized with an award,” he said.

Photographers across the world are expected to submit images capturing global events over the past year. Mainly focusing on news and sports photos, the contest has four categories: Single News, Story News, Single Sports, and Story Sports.

In March, an international jury, --which will be announced in a short time,-- will meet to select the winners who will receive awards.

The winner of Photo of the Year in Single News category will be awarded $8,000, while winners in other categories will be given $5,000 for first prize, $3,000 for second prize, and $1,500 for third.

All previous winning photos are available at, and professional photographers can apply for the 2020 contest on the same website.

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