Introducing Critics’ Choice 2020
20 International Critics will select up to 60 Photographers
Unprecedented times call for new ways of thinking and our new Critics’ Choice 2020 aims to give more photographers more opportunities to be recognized than ever before!
What’s different? We’ve assembled our largest ever jury, with over 20 international experts eager to discover new photographers. Every critic will select three photographers with outstanding talent and creative vision. Your work only needs to resonate with one!
This is your best chance to be seen by the world’s top experts and influencers in photography. Awards include exhibition in Paris alongside Paris Photo 2020, cash prizes for the top ten photographers, global media coverage, and more. Free entry for single image entries and written professional reviews of your submission available.
We look forward to seeing your work, especially if you’ve entered it before. Open to all types of photography, all levels of experience, all ages.
Closed for new entries.
Paris Exhibition|Global Recognition|International Festival Exposure
Images by © Marko Mestrovic, Arnaud Montagard, Raffaele Petralla, Kristina Bodnya, Aldi Hanif, Andras Bankuti, Jeroen Hofman, Gabriele Cavallari, Walter Fogel, Majid Hojati, Rossella Agostini, Megan Doherty, Mackenzie Walker, Francesco Merlini, Christian Filardo, Andy Benedek, Stefan Dotter, Angelo Formato.
Meet our
international critics
Each Juror will select 3 photographers. Up to 60 photographers will be chosen.
our
global
critics
Alexa Becker
Acquisitions Editor
Kehrer Verlag Publishers
Germany

Alexa Becker is the Acquisitions Editor for photography and art books for Kehrer Verlag Book Publisher. Having obtained her Master’s in Art History from the University of Heidelberg, she started her career at Kehrer in 2003, where she is responsible for selecting and acquiring new photography-related projects.

Founded in 1995, Kehrer Verlag in Heidelberg Germany specializes in books in the fields of photography, fine arts, and culture, working together closely with international artists, authors, museums and cultural institutions.

Anna Dannemann
Senior Curator
The Photographers Gallery
United Kingdom

Anna Dannemann is Senior Curator at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize (2016-19) and has organized several solo exhibitions, among them Simon Fujiwara’s Joanne (2016), Charlotte Dumas’ Anima & The Widest Prairies (2015), Viviane Sassen’s Analemma (2014), and William Burroughs. Anna regularly contributes to catalogues and other publications, and received an MA in Art and Visual History from the Humboldt-University of Berlin.

Azu Nwagbogu
Founder and Director
LagosPhoto Festival and the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF)
Nigeria

Azu Nwagbogu is the founder and director of the African Artists’ Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2007 and based in Lagos, Nigeria that is dedicated to the promotion and development of contemporary African arts and artists. Nwagbogu also founded the National Art Competition in 2008, an annual arts competition in Nigeria; the Lagos Photo Festival, an annual international photography festival; and Art Base Africa, a new virtual space to discover and learn about contemporary African Art and diaspora. He owns a diverse collection of modern contemporary art and has curated private collections in Africa for the past 20 years.

He was a juror for the Dutch Doc and the POPCAP Photography Awards, World Press Photo, Prisma Photography Award (2015) and Greenpeace Photo Award (2016). He was nominated as curator for the Prix Découverte Rencontres d’Arles (2014) as well as Photoquai (2015) and Photolux Festival (2015). He curated “Dey Your Lane! Lagos Variations” for the Bozar Museum in Brussels and “Tear My Bra” for Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016. Azu Nwagbogu lives and works in Lagos.

Charlotte Cotton
Curator & Writer
United States

Charlotte Cotton is an independent curator and writer. She is currently curator in residence at the International Center of Photography, NY and the Metabolic Studio, LA. She has held positions including: curator of photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, head of programming at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, and head of the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is the author of “The Photograph as Contemporary Art.” Her most recent exhibition was “Public, Private, Secret,” which opened the ICP’s new 250 Bowery exhibition and event space in June 2016. Her most recent book, “Photography is Magic” (2015) surveys the practices of eighty-five contemporary artists that are reshaping the idea of photography.

Corey Keller
Curator of Photography
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
United States

Corey Keller is the Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). She joined the museum in 1999 and held a number of positions before she was promoted to her current role in 2012.

At SFMOMA, Keller organized the critically acclaimed exhibition “Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900” (2008), which explored the use of photography in 19th-century science, particularly focusing on the representation of phenomena invisible to the naked eye. Accompanied by an award-winning catalogue, the show traveled to the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria.

With SFMOMA curators Janet Bishop and Sarah Roberts, Keller co-organized a large-scale exhibition celebrating the museum’s 75th anniversary in 2010, as well as its accompanying major catalogue. She was instrumental in organizing the much-discussed symposium “Is Photography Over?” (2010) and also participated as a panelist. Other exhibitions that Keller has curated include “Henry Wessel” (2006) and “1906 Earthquake: A Disaster in Pictures” (2006). She also coordinated the San Francisco presentations of “William Eggleston: Los Alamos” (2005), “Looking In: Robert Frank and The Americans” (2009), and “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century” (2010), among others. She oversees “Picturing Modernity,” SFMOMA’s ongoing presentation of its world-class photography collection.

Darius Himes
International Head of Photographs
Christie’s
United States

Darius Himes is the first International Head of Photographs for Christie’s, joining in November 2014. Prior to that, he was Director of Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco (2011-2014). In his curatorial career, he has collaborated with a wide range of photographers, from Lee Friedlander to Alec Soth and Katy Grannan. He has also worked with some of the top institutions across the United States: The Art Institute of Chicago, David Zwirner Gallery and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Himes has contributed writing to Aperture, American Photo, Blind Spot, Bookforum, BOMB, PDN, and Lay Flat. He also co-authored the title, "Publish Your Photography Book," a popular guide (now in its second edition) to the illustrated book publishing industry.

Fiona Shields
Head of Photography
The Guardian
United Kingdom

Shields has over twenty years’ picture-editing experience across a range of newspaper titles and has served as picture editor of The Guardian for the last nine. She recently took up the role of Head of Photography for the Guardian News and Media Group. Throughout her career, she has been involved in the coverage of some of the most historic news stories of our time: 9/11, conflicts around the world, the Arab Spring and much more. Besides her work at the newspaper, she’s delivered talks at photo festivals and to students of photojournalism. She has judged the Sony World Photography Awards, the UK Picture Editors Guild Awards, and the Renaissance Photography Prize among others. Most recently she served as a nominator for the Prix Pictet and joined the jury of the highly regarded Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize.

Jim Casper
Editor-in-Chief
LensCulture
The Netherlands

Jim Casper is the editor-in-chief of LensCulture, one of the leading online destinations to discover contemporary photography from around the world. As an active member in the contemporary photography world, Casper organizes annual international photography events, travels around the world to meet with photographers and review their portfolios, curates art exhibitions, writes about photography and culture, lectures, conducts workshops, serves as an international juror and nominator for key awards, and is an advisor to arts and education organizations.

Joanna Milter
Director of Photography
The New Yorker
United States

Joanna Milter is the director of photography for The New Yorker, overseeing all photography for the print and digital versions of the magazine, in addition to Photo Booth, the magazine’s photo blog. Since she joined The New Yorker, in 2015, the magazine’s photography has been recognized by World Press Photo, the Society of Publication Designers, and American Photography, and has received a National Magazine Award for Feature Photography.

Previously, Joanna spent eleven years as a photo editor at The New York Times Magazine; for the last four of those years, she was the deputy photo editor.

Khalifa Al Obaidly
Director
Qatar Photo Festival
Qatar

Since 2002, Qatari photographer Khalifa Al Obaidly has concentrated on Qatari tradition and culture through his work, focusing on the twin themes of desert and sea. In addition to photography, his career also spans many different projects across science, art and heritage work. Originally studying marine biology at the University of Qatar, Al Obaidly has worked at a number museums including the Aquarium at the Qatar National Museum, working on a project to construct a museum of photography with a collection of work. He has also served as an assistant director at the Islamic Art Museum (project) through the Qatari National Council for Culture, Art and Heritage. Most recently Al Obaidly developed an artist-in-resident program to support local artists and connect them to the international art scene. He is currently the director of Photo Festival, an initiative to celebrate young photographic artists in the region.

Lars Boering
Managing Director
World Press Photo Foundation
The Netherlands

Lars Boering is the Managing Director of World Press Photo, the world’s leading international contest in visual journalism. He has been actively involved with photography for many years. He has (co)produced exhibitions with photographers, Festivals, museums and art foundations.

In 2008, he founded Lux Photo gallery: showcasing photography that demonstrated creative integrity and intent, originality, narrative and aesthetic quality and a high level of craftsmanship. At the end of 2014, he stopped working for the gallery.

He also worked as the director of the Federation of Dutch Professional photographers, improving the working position of photographers helping them to safeguard their copyright. In 2014 he merged all member associations into one strong professional organization called Dutch Photographers (DuPho).

In 2010, he co-founded the successful master class ‘Advanced Storytelling’ at www.noorderlicht.com, where he still teaches.

Louise Fedotov-Clements
Director, FORMAT Festival & Artistic Director QUAD
United Kingdom

Louise Clements is Artistic Director of QUAD, a centre for contemporary art and film, and Co-Founder and Artistic Director/Curator of FORMAT International Photography Festival, one of the UK’s leading contemporary photography and media festivals. As a curator, she has initiated and curated many commissions, publications, mass participation art, film and photography programmes and exhibitions around the world. Louise regularly writes about photography for catalogues and magazines in both print and online media including:Next Level, South Korean Photography, co-editor of Hijacked III UK/AUS, PHOTOCINEMA, and she is Editor at Large for www.1000wordsmag.com. She is an international photography juror and nominator, and a regular portfolio reviewer at festivals and galleries throughout Europe, America and Asia.

Manila Camarini
Photo Editor
D La Repubblica
Italy

Manila Camarini is the chief photo editor for D La Repubblica, a magazine attached to the newspaper la Repubblica. Born in Milan in 1973, Manila Camarini started her career as a photographic agent working for major Italian newspapers. She has held the role of photo editor for Panorama Travel Mondadori and Condè Nast Traveller. In 2003, she worked as a professional journalist and photo editor for D La Repubblica and in November 2014 she became chief photo editor for D Lui.

Mary Virginia Swanson
Photography Marketing Advisor
United States

Mary Virginia Swanson is an author, educator and advisor who helps artists find the strength in their work, identify appreciative audiences, and present their work in an informed, professional manner.

Unique among authorities in our field, Swanson’s in-depth knowledge, professional reputation and connections throughout our industry offers a broad range of perspectives on both the making and marketing of photo-based work. Her public seminars, lectures on marketing opportunities and in-depth workshops & retreats have proven to aid photographers in moving their careers to the next level.

Swanson co-authored with Darius Himes the acclaimed “Publish Your Photography Book: Revised & Updated” (2014) and continues to stay current on the growing market for photobooks, reflecting both the relative ease of self-publishing and the rise of the collectible photographic artists book.

Swanson’s website is mvswanson.com and she’s on Instagram as @maryvirginiaswanson.

Mazie Harris
Assistant Curator of the Department of Photographs
Getty Museum
United States

Mazie Harris, Ph.D., is an assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where she conducts research and manages the acquisition, loan, and display of photographs at the Museum from the past and present. Her scholarship has been supported by the Terra Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Art, and the Library of Congress. She has worked with photography collections at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Harvard Art Museums.

Michael Famighetti
Editor
Aperture Magazine
United States

Michael Famighetti is the Editor of Aperture magazine. In 2013, he organized a relaunch and reconceptualization of the publication, which won a 2018 National Magazine Award for General Excellence. He is the recipient, with guest editor Sarah Lewis, of the ICP Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research for “Vision & Justice,” the summer 2016 issue of Aperture.

In addition to editing the magazine, Famighetti commissions and edits books for the Aperture Foundation, including volumes by William Christenberry, Robert Adams, John Divola, Jonas Bendiksen, Kwame Brathwaite and Joel Meyerowitz, among others. He is currently a visiting critic at the Yale University School of Art and a participant in SVA’s Mentors program.

His writing has appeared in Frieze, Bookforum and Aperture, among other publications. He is a member of the American Society of Magazine Editors and has been a guest reviewer and speaker at many international festivals and institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The New York Times; Vogue Italia; FOAM, Amsterdam; the Art Gallery of Ontario; the Bamako Biennial, Mali; Kyotographie, Kyoto; Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark; and Fotografiska, Stockholm.

Mutsuko Ota
Editorial Director
IMA magazine
Japan

Mutsuko Ota is Editorial Director of IMA magazine. Born in Tokyo, 1968, she started her career as an editor at Marie Claire and worked at several men’s magazines such as Esquire, GQ and others as a feature editor. Besides collaborating with several magazines as a freelance editor, she became involved in various fields including art projects, book and catalogue editing, and film promotion. She became the editorial director of IMA magazine in January 2012. In 2004, she helped produce a physical space called IMA CONCEPT STORE in Tokyo, with the goal of popularizing art photography in Japan.

Rebecca Morse
Curator
LACMA
United States

Rebecca Morse is Curator in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where she recently organized the exhibitions Sarah Charlesworth: Doubleworld and Larry Sultan: Here and Home. Previous exhibitions include Amanda Ross Ho: Teeny Tiny Woman, Cai Guo-Qiang: Ladder to the Sky, Rodarte: States of Matter, The Artist’s Museum, and Florian Maier-Aichen organized for The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) where she was Associate Curator through 2013. She has written about the evolving relationship between photography and sculpture, contemporary photography in Los Angeles, and photography’s changing role in contemporary art beginning in the 1980s.

Simon Bainbridge
Editorial Director
British Journal of Photography
United Kingdom

Simon Bainbridge has spent much of his 25 years in arts journalism as editor of British Journal of Photography, taking over in 2003 and transforming the weekly trade journal into an award-winning monthly magazine. He has curated five exhibitions: Paper, Rock, Scissors: The Constructed Image in New British Photography at Flash Forward Festival 2010 in Boston (with colleague Diane Smyth); Time & Motion studies: New documentary photography beyond the decisive moment at Hereford Photography Festival 2011; Portrait of Britain (nationwide, 2016-18); and Ones To Watch at Peckham 24. He is working on two books; the first one based on the acclaimed public art project, Portrait of Britain, with Hoxton Mini Press, the other a book on portraits of artists. In additional, he has served as a judge or nominator on more than 100 photography contests, including the Deutsche Börse, Prix Pictet, Amnesty International Media Awards, ING Unseen Talent, CAP Prize and Organ Vida, and has been an expert at dozens of portfolio reviews across Europe.

Susan Thompson
Associate Curator
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
United States

Susan Thompson has spent over ten years as a curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where she has organized numerous exhibitions, including most recently Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now (2019–20); Simone Leigh: Loophole of Retreat (2019); and Anicka Yi: Life Is Cheap (2017). Her writing has appeared in various volumes, including Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away (Guggenheim Museum, 2018), The Black Dada Reader (Walther König Books, 2017), and Photo-Poetics: An Anthology (Guggenheim Museum, 2015). Thompson holds an MA in modern art from Columbia University and a BA in art history and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Open calls are often where I encounter interesting artists who I may follow for a number of years. I scout for photographers to recommend or save for other projects while I am looking through submissions, and I know this is similar to the strategy of other jurors.”
Louise Fedotov-Clements
Artistic Director, QUAD & Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival
exhibit
your work
in Paris
Exhibition during Paris Photo 2020
All winning photographers for this award will be exhibited in November during Paris Photo*! An opening reception will be held for artists, invited media, photo editors and industry insiders for a night of art appreciation and networking during the world's largest international art fair dedicated to photography.
*Should we not be able to proceed with the exhibition due to the coronavirus pandemic, we will find an alternative for exhibiting photographers recognized through these awards.
Be persistent.
Many successful photographers enter the same work in several competitions before they finally win. This is an effective strategy to have your work seen by many different jurors and build your career.
Persistence is the key to getting your work seen by influential experts worldwide - it only takes one person to make a positive impact on your creative journey!
free
entry
We are proud to offer free entry on single-image entries.
This special offer is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure entry to our awards, and the career-changing benefits that come along with them, is open to all photographers, no matter your location or budget for entering competitions.
© Greg Walker
© Corinne Cavillac
© Giuliano Cingoli
Enter 5+ single images or a series into this competition and you can add a professional written review of your submission for an additional $15. This is a unique opportunity to receive valuable and specific feedback on your work from one of our experienced industry professionals.
written
reviews
Read what LensCulture’s community of photographers is saying about our reviews:
competition
gallery
When you enter this award, your work will be immediately reviewed by our editors. Selected submissions will be featured in our Competition gallery and published across all of our online channels, reaching a massive three million+ audience of photography lovers and experts.
Click on each photo to learn more about the photographer. If you like someone’s work, share their submission on Facebook or favorite their image! Your support increases the exposure for every participating photographer.
Note: While our editors review entries for inclusion on a daily basis, not every submission can be shown here.
“I’m always on the lookout for new stories and original representation for publication in The Guardian, and judging photo competitions is a great way to discover the most excellent work.”
Fiona Shields
Head of Photography, The Guardian News & Media
career
launching
exposure
Featured at international photo festivals
Selected works will be screened at photo festivals and events worldwide. Over the past year, our winners and finalists were screened at festivals in the UK, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Serbia, The Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Spain, France, the US, and more.
Visibility with industry insiders & creative professionals
If our jury ranks your submission highly through the judging process, you will be included in LensCulture Discoveries, our directory of top-rated photographers. We provide this directory to photography industry insiders and creative professionals to showcase photographers and their work to key decision makers.
Your work showcased to
our social media community
Each photographer selected in the LensCulture Critic’s Choice Awards will be profiled via dedicated posts on our Instagram (945K followers) and Facebook (one million followers) accounts, sharing your work with new audiences and potentially new opportunities.
Written feature in
our online magazine
All photographers selected in the LensCulture Critic’s Choice Awards will be profiled via a special editorial feature in LensCulture’s online magazine. The feature will include a selection of your work and introduce our readers to you as a photographer, alongside written comments from the juror who selected your work.
Permanent exhibition on LensCulture online gallery
All photographers recognized for this award will be prominently featured in the permanent online gallery on our site.
International press exposure
Award winners receive press coverage from publications and media outlets around the world. Past winners have been featured in major publications including BBC, The Washington Post, Internazionale, VICE, The Times of London, Huffington Post, Spiegel Online, The British Journal of Photography, and The Telegraph.
© Alessandro Scattolini
If your work is selected by more than one critic, you have a chance of being named in our top ten. The top ten photographers in this award will each get a $1000 cash grant.
cash
awards
© Daniel Ramos
Benefits for all who enter
Top 10 PicksCritics PicksEditors’ Picks(1)Every Entrant
$10,000 in Cash Awards
Exhibition in Paris during Paris Photo 2020
Critics’ Choice 2020 Online Exhibition
Visibility with LensCulture Insiders
Featured in International Photo Festival Projections
International Press Exposure
Massive Exposure to our Global Audience of 3 Million
Submission Review by Photo Industry Specialist(2)
Opportunity to be in LensCulture Discoveries(3)
Share your Work with the Global Photography Community
Opportunities for Immediate Exposure
(1)Editors’ Picks: During the competition, LensCulture’s editors will curate hundreds of entries for immediate exposure to our global audience through the competition gallery and our Facebook page.
(2)Available for all Series and 5+ Single entries ($15 additional).
(3)All photographers recognized through this award will be automatically included in LensCulture Discoveries online directory.
fine artportraitlandscapearchitectureinteriorsalternative processphotojournalismdocumentaryconceptualvisual storytellingstill lifeb&wnaturestreet photographyabstractexperimentalstaged
Closed for new entries.
success
stories
Recognition in the global photography community
For 15 years, LensCulture has been committed to helping photographers of all levels move forward creatively and professionally. In that time, we have heard from hundreds of photographers who were able to achieve breakthroughs in their careers through participation in the LensCulture community.
  • Aaron Elkaim
    Canada
  • Alex Vasyliev
    Russian Federation
  • Ana Vallejo
    Colombia
  • Antonio Pulgarin
    United States
  • Diego Moreno
    Mexico
  • Heloisa Lodder
    Brazil
  • Juul Kraijer
    Netherlands
  • Marinka Masséus
    Netherlands
  • Mathieu Willcocks
    United Kingdom
  • Nadir Bucan
    Turkey
  • Rahima Gambo
    Nigeria
  • Sheng Wen Lo
    Taiwan
  • Tadas Kazakevičius
    Lithuania
  • Vikesh Kapoor
    United States
  • Walter Plotnik
    United States
We respect artists’ rights
All photographers retain full copyrights for their own work. Period. Winners, Jurors’ Picks and Finalists grant LensCulture limited, restricted use of winning photos only to promote the photographers themselves and in connection with marketing the Awards competition itself. Details can be found in the Competition rules.