Critics’ Choice 21 Photobook|Solo Online Exhibition|International Press Exposure
Your single best opportunity to be discovered by 21 influential photography experts!
Critics’ Choice 2021 is designed to maximize exposure and opportunities for talented photographers who are ready for the global stage and international markets. We have carefully assembled our largest Jury ever - photography experts and influencers from world-renowned museums, magazines and news media, online publications, book publishers, international festivals, and art galleries. This jury is really amazing...Take a look.
Every critic will select three photographers with outstanding talent and creative vision. We’re seeking all kinds of new photography that is thoughtful, poetic, smart, raw, refined, nuanced, powerful or otherwise remarkable. Awards include an Online Solo Exhibition, feature in Critics’ Choice 2021 Photobook, cash prizes for the top ten photographers, global media coverage, and more. Free entry for single image entries. Open to all types of photography.
This past year has severely limited our ability to get out and meet each other in person at portfolio reviews, workshops, gallery openings or festivals — so this is a great way to get your work in front of 21 experts — it only takes one great connection to change your career!
Closed for new entries.
Photos in video © Anna Karvounari, Daisy Noyes, Alba Pérez Padilla, Adrian Wojtas, Wang Xueping, Kether Clouder, Anu Plym, Andrew Killick, Kai Yokoyama, Maxine Helfman, Alvaro Gomez Pidal, Chris Bethell, Anastasia Smolko, Amin Emami, Angiolo Manetti, Whitney Hayes, Aline Fortuna (courtesy of Mundo Sem Muros), Anamaria Chediak, Alexandra Marinescu, Antonio Denti, Tariq Zaidi, Ritsuko Matsushita, Sandra Ramos, Fernanda Frazão
Meet our international critics
Each Juror will select 3 photographers. Up to 60 photographers will be chosen.
Ada Takahashi
Robert Koch Gallery
United States

Ada Takahashi is a principal with the Robert Koch Gallery in San Francisco. She joined the gallery in 1986. Takahashi focuses on the gallery’s curatorial efforts, liaising with artists, and on the gallery’s presence at international art fairs. The Koch Gallery program emphasizes contemporary photography as well as experimental work from the 1920s and 1930s. In recent years, the gallery’s exhibitions have included work by Edward Burtynsky, Michael Wolf, Robert Heinecken, Kenneth Josephson, Alex Webb, Rebecca Norris Webb, Tamas Dezso, and Mimi Plumb. The contemporary program is shaped by a desire to expand the dialogue around significant aesthetic and social issues of our time, an aim that is shared by many of the gallery’s artists.

Allegra Cordero di Montezemolo
Morán Morán Gallery CDMX

Allegra Cordero di Montezemolo (B. 1985, Mexico City) is a Mexican-Italian independent curator and director of Morán Morán Gallery in Mexico City. She received her BA in Film and Television from CENTRO University in 2008. Her professional experience begins with working in the film and documentary industry, mostly in production. Her interest in the convergence of cinema with other artistic disciplines led her to a curatorial position at the Cineteca Nacional: the conception, curatorship, management and programming of Room 7, a project dedicated to approach and reflect on cinema through multimedia exhibitions. In addition, she was curatorial assistant and development coordinator for the inaugural exhibition at the Cineteca Nacional’s Cinema Museum, now La Galería. She was also curatorial assistant and development coordinator for the Mexico Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, represented by Ariel Guzik and curated by Itala Schmelz. In 2015, she was an apprentice curator at the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, where she worked with Mentor Joseph Melillo during a year of mentoring exchange. From 2013 till 2016 She was the curator and exhibition coordinator at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City in which she was part of the Research and Curatorial Seminar: Technology, Audiovisual Media and Artistic Experimentation, where she curated the Niérika: Lilly Archive exhibition together with Anahí Luna and Arden Decker. A few other curatorial projects include Fotomuro vol. I, vol. II (collectives) and 1440 by Diego Berruecos; Casa Estudiantil Octubre Rojo with photographer Eunice Adorno at the Tlatelolco Cultural Center as well as Desandar in collaboration with the same photographer in the Museo de la Ciudad de México; Sentido de Forma, a collective show organized for Fundación CALOSA in Irapuato.

Alona Pardo
Barbican Art Gallery
United Kingdom

Alona Pardo has been a Curator at Barbican Art Gallery in London for nearly 15 years. With a focus on photography and film, she has curated a number of exhibitions and publications including most recently Masculinities: Liberation through Photography (2020); Trevor Paglen: From Apple to Anomaly (2019); Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing (2018); Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds (2018); Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins (2018); Richard Mosse: Incoming (2017) and Strange and Familiar: Britain as seen by International Photographers (with Martin Parr; 2016). She has a particular interest in work that exists in the intersection between social activism, aesthetics and identity.

Andrew Katz
Deputy Director of Photography
United States

Andrew Katz is the Deputy Director of Photography at TIME. He co-manages a team of editors; assigns and collaborates with photographers around the world; pitches and produces covers, photo essays and features; and curates @time’s Instagram account. He came to TIME in 2013 as a reporter and later served as a news editor. Since joining the photography department in 2015, he has supported photojournalists on (or above) every continent and produced portraits with more than a dozen presidents and prime ministers, the U.N. Secretary-General and the Dalai Lama. The resulting work has been recognized by the American Society of Magazine Editors, World Press Photo, Visa pour l'Image, Overseas Press Club, Pictures of the Year International and more. In 2021, he was a POYi finalist for Visual Editor of the Year.

Anna Goldwater Alexander
Director of Photography
United States

Anna Alexander is Director of Photography at WIRED in San Francisco. She’s been producing photo shoots and commissioning WIRED photographers for approximately twenty years. She took a hiatus from WIRED as the Photo Director at Dwell from 2011-2013. Anna has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Arizona. Anna resides in the Marin County city of Novato with her husband and two children.

Caroline Hunter
Picture Editor
Guardian Weekend Magazine
United Kingdom

Caroline Hunter is a picture editor for The Guardian Weekend magazine. Caroline has 20 years experience of commissioning photography (from concept to celebrity, portraiture, still-life, beauty, fashion and documentary photography) and reviewing photo-essays and proposals. Caroline is regularly invited to review portfolios at international photo festivals and has also acted as a judge for a number of photography competitions. In 2017, she was a nominator for the Deutsche Börse prize.

Chloe Coleman
International + Outlook Photo Editor
Washington Post
United States

Chloe Coleman is an award-winning photo editor at The Washington Post, currently on the international news desk working with photographers worldwide. She is a contributing writer and editor on the Washington Post’s In Sight photo blog where she has written about and featured contemporary photography, photo books and exhibitions. Her career in photo editing began on the visual desk at NPR, followed by The Denver Post. She attended the Columbus College of Art and Design and is a graduate of the photojournalism program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Chloe also serves as a faculty member at The Kalish Visual Editing Workshop.

Chris Pichler
Founder and Publisher
Nazraeli Press
United States

Chris Pichler founded Nazraeli Press in Munich, Germany in 1989. In 1997, the press moved to the United States and in 2002 opened a subsidiary in the United Kingdom. Nazraeli Press has published over 500 books on the fine and applied arts with an emphasis on contemporary photography. The books are distributed throughout the world. Pichler edits and designs most of the books published by Nazraeli. He is known for his unorthodox use of common materials—such as papers, wood, plastic, metals—and for introducing elements of handiwork into otherwise mass-produced objects. The press’s award-winning books have themselves been the subject of exhibitions and books about books.

Elena Boille
Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Photo Editor

Elena Boille is deputy editor-in-chief and photo editor of the magazine Internazionale. Boille graduated with a degree in history of art and she co-founded, in 1993, the Italian news magazine Internazionale. She has judged many photo competitions and participated in portfolio reviews; Boille also teaches photo editing workshops and taught a photo editing class at Luiss Business School in Rome.

Internazionale is a weekly magazine that selects and translates the best journalistic stories from around the world and brings them to an Italian-speaking audience. Every issue features a photographic portfolio, which focuses mainly on long-term projects. Along with photojournalistic and documentary stories, it publishes personal works, conceptual series and more.

Elisa Medde
FOAM Magazine
The Netherlands

Elisa Medde edits, curates and writes about photography. With a background in Art History, Iconology and Photographic Studies, her research reflects on the relationship between image, communication and power structures. She has been nominator for the Prix Elysée, The Leica Oskar Barnack Award and MAST Foundation for Photography Grant, amongst others. Elisa has chaired numerous juries and written for Foam Magazine, Something We Africans Got, Vogue Italia / L'Uomo Vogue, YET Magazine and other publications. Elisa is Editor-in-Chief of Foam Magazine, Amsterdam.

Enrico Stefanelli
Artistic Director
Photolux Festival

Enrico Stefanelli is the founder and artistic director of Photolux Festival, the biennial of photography in Lucca, Italy. He has curated several exhibitions including: Tim Hetherington, Jan Saudek, Horst P. Horst, VII Agency, Nobuyoshy Araki, Boris Mikhailov and David Douglas Duncan. Since 2010, he is the Italian curator of the European Photo Exhibition Award. Enrico is a photographer and journalist and teaches photography in workshops. He has written articles and contributions on photography for several catalogs, books and magazines. He participates in portfolio reviews around the world, serves on international photography juries, and is a member of the nominating committee for the Joop Swart Masterclass at World Press Photo.

Eslah Attar
Photo Editor
New York Times
United States

Eslah Attar is a visual storyteller from the suburbs of Ohio where she studied photojournalism and documented immigration in her community. Prior to joining The New York Times as a photo editing fellow, she worked at National Geographic as an associate photo editor. Before then, she worked at National Public Radio as a photo editor and photographer.

Irina Chmyreva
Art Director
PhotoVisa International Festival of Photography

Irina Chmyreva is Co-founder and Artistic Director of PhotoVisa, Russia’s largest, international photography biennial outside Moscow. PhotoVisa had taken place since 2008 every October in city Krasnodar (South of Russia), since 2020 the festival has biennial format. The festival consists of an extensive exhibition program, international portfolio review, multimedia projections, lectures, workshops and an international juried contest. The PhotoVisa contest is still annual and free of charge, it is announced at web-site.
Irina has curated more than a hundred exhibitions worldwide. During past years she collaborated with several state and private museums in Moscow and other Russian cities, where she presented both national and international contemporary artists. From 2011 to 2015, she was the senior curator of Project in Support for Photography in Russia run by the IRIS Foundation. Irina was also part of the international team of curators who organized the FotoFest 2012 Biennial, Contemporary Russian Photography: 1950s-2012 in Houston, USA. In 2014, Irina was a jury member for the Hasselblad Award. For twelve years she was a member of the international editorial board for the independent art magazine European Photography.
For the past eleven years Irina has been working as a leading researcher (Ph.D.) at the Russian Academy of Arts, National Institute of Theory and History of Art, Moscow. She is teaching in Russian and foreign high-schools and university programs on photo editing and visual communication. As photo editor, Irina has been involved in several book projects and has published a great number of portfolios in different offline and online resources.

Jim Casper
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.

Manolis Moresopoulos
Athens Photo Festival

Since 2010, Manolis Moresopoulos has been the artistic director of the Athens Photo Festival, a leading international festival of photography and visual culture. In and beyond this role, Manolis has been responsible for numerous exhibitions and photography-related activities, including book projects, learning activities, artist exchange programs, and talent development initiatives. Over the past few years he has served as nominator, juror and reviewer for many international festivals and organisations, and regularly lectures on the theory and practice of photography. Manolis is always looking for new or emerging artists working with photography for possible future collaborations.

Mirjam Cavegn
Bildhalle Gallery

Mirjam Cavegn is the founder of Bildhalle, one of the most respected galleries for photography in Switzerland. Interested in both established and emerging innovative contemporary photographers, Mirjam shapes an ambitious gallery program through solo and group exhibitions as well as participation in international art fairs. Previously, she developed photo books for international publishing houses and was photo editor for various media companies.

Robert Morat
Robert Morat Galerie

Robert Morat is the owner and director of Robert Morat Gallery in Berlin. The gallery program focuses on emerging and mid-career positions in contemporary photography, representing artists such aa Christian Patterson, Ron Jude, Jessica Backhaus, Bertien van Manen, Hans Christian Schink, Lia Darjes, Mårten Lange, Simon Roberts, Andrea Grützner and many others. Robert, an art historian, went to Journalism School and started out as an editor working for magazines, newspapers and TV. He opened the gallery in Hamburg in 2004 and started showing at international art fairs in 2007. Today, the gallery is a regular exhibitor at art fairs such as PARIS PHOTO, UNSEEN Amsterdam or Photo London. In 2009, Robert became a member of AIPAD, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers, and served as a director and member of the board from 2010 to 2015. In 20015 the gallery relocated to Berlin and is found today on Linienstrasse in the Mitte art district, showing an alternating program of represented artists, guest exhibitors (John Divola (2019), Max Pinckers (2020)), book presentations and artist talks.

Whitney Johnson
Vice President, Visuals and Immersive Experiences
National Geographic
United States

Whitney Johnson is the Vice President of Visuals and Immersive Experiences at National Geographic. Prior to that she worked at the Open Society Foundations. She has taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and the International Center of Photography.

Xavier Soule
Agence VU & Gallery VU

Xavier Soule is the CEO of Abvent Group and president and director of Agence VU’, one of the most renowned agencies and galleries for photographers in France and Europe. The aim of Galerie VU’ is to affirm, on the walls, the diversity of contemporary stylistic photographic approaches, and to compare and contrast current viewpoints, so they can dialogue with their differences. Galerie VU’ works like any other commercial gallery: it is simultaneously a space for exhibiting and selling collectors’ editions, offering monograph approaches as well as hosting authors’ dialogues, group and thematic approaches. As a collector himself, Xavier is interested in a wide array of photography. From art pieces to documentary reports, he is particularly interested in cutting-edge photojournalism and contemporary photography that offer innovative approaches to expand our visual understanding of the world, people and light.

Yumi Goto
Reminders Photography Stronghold

Yumi Goto is an independent photography curator, editor, researcher, consultant, educator and publisher who focuses on the development of cultural exchanges that transcend borders.

She collaborates with local and international artists who live and work in areas affected by conflict, natural disasters, current social problems, human rights abuses and women’s issues. She often works with human rights advocates, international and local NGOs, and humanitarian organizations as well as being involved as a nominator and juror for international photographic organizations, festivals and events.

She is now based in Tokyo and is also a co-founder and curator for the Reminders Photography Stronghold, which is a curated membership gallery space in Tokyo enabling a wide range of photographic activities.

Instead of winners and finalists decided by consensus vote, each critic will select three photographers who stand out to them personally. The experts will write short statements of appreciation about each of their choices. This alone is an amazing addition to any artist’s resume.
Since winning the Critics’ Choice Top Ten, I have been named a finalist in The Hopper Prize, had features in D Magazine la Repubblica, The Observer / Guardian, shortlisted for the Belfast Photo Festival, winner in Imago Lisboa Photo Festival and finalist for the National Portrait Gallery’s Competition. I am also doing a book of the images with Yoffy Press to be published in September 2021!
Catherine Panebianco
Winner, Critics’ Choice 2020 Top Ten
Awards & Benefits
Be published in the Critics’ Choice 2021 Photobook
We are excited to publish a dedicated photobook featuring the work of all of the Critics’ Choice 2021 winning photographers. All winning photographers will get their own copy of the photobook to keep plus we will distribute the book to our expansive network of international editors, curators and photography professionals.
Online Solo Exhibitions
Critics’ Choice 10 Top Picks will each have their work permanently exhibited on the LensCulture website via our new solo feature pages. Benefitting from LensCulture’s high search rankings and traffic to the site, our online exhibitions offer wonderful and ongoing exposure for your work.
Visibility With Industry Insiders & Creative Professionals
All it takes is one set of eyes to change the course of your career. 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 key decision-makers including editors, book publishers, gallery owners, festival directors, creative directors, curators, and online media publishers.
Permanent Exhibition in LensCulture online gallery
LensCulture has become a key resource for discovering new photography work all over the world. All Critics’ Choice 2021 winning photographers will be prominently featured in the permanent online gallery on our site.
In-depth written Project Review
As a special part of the launch of our new Review service, the 10 Top Picks will receive a free Project Review. Building on the success of our Submission Reviews, the Project Reviews offer more comprehensive and in-depth written feedback on your project images, project statement and artist bio that is professional, personal, and actionable. Learn More »
International Press Exposure
Award winners receive press coverage from publications and media outlets around the world — the kind of exposure that can lead to viral, global recognition of your work. Winners, finalists and selected entrants 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.
Be sure to check out our latest feature on The Guardian, a beautiful image gallery sharing the work of the 2021 Portrait Award winners with the world.

Cash Awards & Recognition
The Top Ten
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.
Critics’ Picks
Each critic will select three critics’ picks to receive special distinction.
My winning series, Concrete Flowers, was published in Fotonostrum, was nominated for the European Month of Photography -Arendt Award and presented at different European Month of Photography shows in 2021, was published in a book and included in my retrospective solo show at Gallery Artget in Belgrade
Vanja Bucan
Winner, Critics’ Choice 2020
© Cathy Cone
© Patricia Pettitt
© Juan Brenner
Competition Gallery —
Editors’ Picks
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. (For example, more than 700 early entries were selected and featured during our HOME’21 Photography Prize open call, and more than 200 of those were promoted via LensCulture’s Instagram and Facebook platforms, garnering more than 460,000 likes and over 2,000 comments.) Enter your work early to take advantage of this incredible opportunity for global exposure!
Note: While our editors review entries for inclusion on a daily basis, not every submission can be shown here.
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
Juror Critics’ Choice 2020, Artistic Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival
Benefits for All Who Enter
When you share your work with us, you participate in our global community of over three million. The opportunities for connection, inspiration, and participation are endless — don’t miss your chance to get involved!
BenefitsTop 10 PicksCritics’ PicksEditors’ Picks(1)Every Entrant
$10,000 in Cash Awards
Critics’ Choice 2021 Solo Online Exhibitions
Free Project Review(2)
Critics’ Choice 2021 Photobook
Visibility with LensCulture Insiders
International Press Exposure
Massive Exposure to our Global Audience of 3 Million
LensCulture Portfolio Account(3)
Opportunity to be in LensCulture Discoveries online directory of top-rated photographers(4)
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 Instagram and Facebook pages, all updated daily. (2)Project Review is for series and projects with multiple images. (3)LensCulture Portfolio Account: Available for all Series entries and 5+ Single entries. (4)All Critics’ Choice wining photographers are automatically included in LensCulture Discoveries online directory.
Critics’ Choice 2021:
This Year’s Best Opportunity for Professional Recognition and Global Visibility
open to all genresfine artportraitlandscapearchitectureinteriorsalternative processphotojournalismdocumentaryconceptualvisual storytellingstill lifeb&wnaturestreet photographyabstractexperimentalstaged
Closed for new entries.
Are you currently an enrolled student?
Get a 30% discount on your entry fee. Start your submission and select the option to register as a student. Your discount will then be automatically applied to your entry.
© Simon Lehner
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!
Submission Reviews
Enter 5+ single images or a series into this competition and you can add a professional written review of your submission for an additional $25. This is a unique opportunity to receive valuable and specific feedback on your work from one of our experienced industry professionals.
© Wenpeng Lu
Success stories
For 16 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.
  • Marinka Masséus
  • Tadas Kazakevičius
  • Juul Kraijer
  • Sheng Wen Lo
  • Nadir Bucan
  • Aaron Elkaim
  • Ana Vallejo
  • Rahima Gambo
  • Heloisa Lodder
  • Diego Moreno
  • Antonio Pulgarin
    United States
  • Walter Plotnik
    United States
  • Alex Vasyliev
    Russian Federation
  • Mathieu Willcocks
    United Kingdom
  • Vikesh Kapoor
    United States
We respect artists’ rights
All photographers retain full copyrights for their own work. Period. Winners and Critics’ Picks 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.
© Antonio Denti