Seeking new visions in portraiture.
Closed for new entries.
  • $10,000 in Photographer Prizes
  • Exhibition in New York
  • Projections at International Photo Festivals
  • Visibility With Industry Insiders
  • International Press Exposure
  • Online Exhibition Promoted to Audience of 3 Million
  • Immediate Exposure of Your Work During the Competition
The 8th annual LensCulture Portrait Awards aim to discover and reward more than 35 photographers around the globe who are making exceptional photographic portraits today.
These awards are open to photographers at all levels of experience, and all genres of portraiture are welcome — from professional studio shoots, to detailed environmental portraits, to casual candids. We’re open to all types of artistic approaches, too, including staged, fiction, fashion, metaphoric, self-portrait and conceptual work.
Winners will enjoy career-changing opportunities including exhibition in New York, extensive media coverage, cash prizes and more. Scroll down to meet our expert international jury and read about our free entry option for single image submissions.
Whether your portraits are traditional or eclectic, quirky or visionary — we want to see your work!
Images by ©: Pasquale Miele, Ruby Ingleheart, Renata Dutrée, Verena Vötter, Guoman Liao, Chris Schneider, Yian Lee, Alex Lockett, Andrew Kolb, Isabel Pinto, Rachel Louise Brown, Ella Mack, Alexandr Isakov, Sandra Mickiewicz, Ole Christiansen, Jon Enoch, Denisa Rahma, Jakob van Vliet, Joseph Kayne, Jurian Den Besten, Laura Chen, Ruben Timman.
Be seen by our international jury
Magdalene Keaney
Senior Curator, Photographs
National Portrait Gallery
United Kingdom

Magdalene Keaney is Senior Curator, Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London, where she is responsible for the care and development of one of the world’s largest and most significant collections. Her work encompasses acquisitions, commissions, displays and exhibition development. At the NPG Keaney has curated the 2019 and 2020 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibitions, Ethan James Green: Couples and Inspiring People: Collecting for the future. She has written widely for exhibition catalogues, books and magazines notably around fashion photography and contemporary practice. Recent publications include: 100 Fashion Icons (National Portrait Gallery, London, 2019) and contributions to publications including Cindy Sherman (National Portrait Gallery, London, 2019), Know my Name (National Gallery of Australia, 2020), and A World History of Women Photographers (Editions Textuel, 2020). She is currently working on a major representation of the NPG’s historic collection for the Inspiring People redevelopment project. Previously holding curatorial roles at the Australian National Portrait Gallery, London College of Fashion and the Australian War Memorial her expertise spans nineteenth century to contemporary and she is particularly interested in women’s practice.

Brent Lewis
Photo Editor
New York Times
United States

Brent Lewis is a photo editor at The New York Times working on the Business Desk, where he assigns visual coverage of technology, the economy, and auto industry. He is also co-founder of Diversify Photo, a platform and resource for art buyers, creative directors and photo editors to discover photographers of color available for assignments and commissions.

He was previously a photo editor at The Washington Post and was the senior photo editor of ESPN’s The Undefeated, where he drove the visual language of the website based around the intersection of sports, race, and culture. Before turning his life over to photo editing, he was a staff photojournalist with stints at The Denver Post, The Rockford Register Star and the Chillicothe Gazette. Through the years his photos have been used by the Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, Associated Press, Forbes, and Yahoo! News.

Chiara Marinai
Senior Visuals Editor
Vanity Fair
United States

Chiara Marinai is a Senior Visuals Editor at Vanity Fair where she produces photo and video content for print and online. She leads’s creative concepts for awards season portrait booths, including the annual Oscar party, and overall visuals for the site.

Oliver Schmitt
Picture Editor

Oliver has been working for the SPIEGEL ONLINE Picture Desk since 2004. He became a picture editor after finishing his studies of "Media and Information" in 2007 and was deputy head of the department between 2009 and 2016. During that period his main focus was on international and domestic news and politics. He is now responsible for sports photography and "Pictures of the Week" at

Virginia Heckert
Department of Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum
United States

Virginia Heckert has been a curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum since 2005, where she also served as department head from 2014 to 2018. In addition to organizing monographic exhibitions on Sigmar Polke, August Sander, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Irving Penn, and Ed Ruscha from the permanent collection, she has collaborated on presentations of the photographs of Lyonel Feininger and the Bauhaus and Ray K. Metzker and the Institute of Design. The exhibitions Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography (2015) and Cut! Paper Play in Contemporary Photography (2018) addressed the materiality of contemporary approaches to the medium of photography. She is currently working on the exhibitions Mario Giacomelli: Figure/Ground and The Expanded Landscape, both drawn from the Getty’s permanent collection. Prior to joining the Getty Museum, Virginia was the inaugural Curator of Photography at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, FL (2001-2005), and held fellowships at the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin. She received her PhD from Columbia University, New York, with a dissertation on the German modernist photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch.

Francesca Marani
Photo Editor
Vogue Italia

Since 2015 Francesca Marani has been part of Vogue Italia’s photography department. She is a contributor to, photo editor for the PhotoVogue platform and co-curator of the Photo Vogue Festival. Francesca also manages the production of Vogue Italia’s photographic exhibitions and creates digital contents for Vogue Italia’s Instagram account.
In 2018 she curated a talk series about contemporary photography at the Affordable Art Fair (Milan), she co-curated the exhibition “Italian Panorama” at the Armani/Silos and was a juror of the Ooshot Award (Paris). Over the past few years Francesca has been a portfolio lecturer for the Blink Portfolio Review (New York) and a juror of the Photolucida’s Critical Mass.
In 2019 Francesca took part in “Scouting for India”(Mumbai), the Vogue Talents’ project in collaboration with FAD International Academy. In 2020 she was a member of the jury of Fresh Eyes (GUP magazine), PHmuseum Women Photographers Grant and Photoville FENCE.

Francesca regularly collaborates with several photography festivals and schools as portfolio reviewer and lecturer.

Roman Härer
Creative Director
Plain Picture

As Creative Director, Roman has established plainpicture as a very popular alternative source for photography. With a credible and unconventional portfolio, plainpicture steers away from the current photography mainstream and focuses on targeted editing to develop its ambitious and challenging collection. It is an inspirational source for all creatives from the advertising, design and publishing fields, including a special collection, «Rauschen», dedicated to book jacket designers. plainpicture has offices in Hamburg, Paris, London and New York. Topics of interest: «We look for photographers who want to provide us a part of their photographic work for exclusive and worldwide sale: both for commercial use and for editorial use, as well as for bookcovers.»

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.

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
– Paul Caponigro
© 2019 LensCulture Exhibition in Paris
Exhibition in New York
All winning photographers for this award will be exhibited in New York. An opening reception will be held for artists, invited media, photo editors and industry insiders for a night of art appreciation and networking. We are hopeful that a gala exhibition can be held in the fall of 2021!
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!
© Lola Montiel
© Simon Martin
© Karel Fonteyne
© Jana Mai
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.
© Senya Bo
© Lionel Benang
© Theo McInnes
Written reviews available!
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.
Read what LensCulture’s community of photographers is saying about our reviews:
Competition Gallery
When you enter, your work will be reviewed by our editors for immediate exposure in our Competition Gallery and across all our online channels, reaching a combined audience of over three million. Enter your work early and take advantage of this opportunity!
Note: While our editors review entries for inclusion on a daily basis, not every submission can be shown here. You can click on the photos to learn more about the photographer. If you like someone’s work, share their submission on Facebook or favorite their image! Your support help increases the exposure for every participating photographer.
“The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson
© Tommaso Montenesi
© Joaquin Burgueño
© Lutz Hilgers
Career-Launching Exposure
In addition to a print exhibition in New York and cash grants, those recognized will also receive the following benefits.
Free Project Review
New Award!
As a special part of the launch of our new Review service, all Winners and Juror’s Pick will receive a free Fine Art 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 »
Permanent exhibition on LensCulture online gallery
All photographers recognized for this award will be prominently featured in the permanent online gallery on our site.
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 recognized in this award will be profiled via our Instagram (1M followers) and Facebook (one million followers) accounts, sharing your work with new audiences and potentially new opportunities.
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.
© Meg Jepson
© Douwe Beckmann
Series Award Winners
1st Place: $3,500
2nd Place: $2,000
3rd Place: $1,000
Single Image Award Winners
1st Place: $2,000
2nd Place: $1,000
3rd Place: $500
Jurors’ Picks
Each juror will select an individual Juror’s Pick to receive special distinction.
25 Finalists will be selected.
© Robert Stevens
Benefits for all who enter
6 Winners8 Jurors’ picks25 FinalistsEditors’ Picks(1)Every Entrant
$10,000 in Cash Awards
Exhibition in New York
Free Project Review
Portrait Awards 2021 Online Exhibition
Visibility with LensCulture Insiders
Featured in International Photo Festival Projections
International Press Exposure
Massive Exposure to our Global Audience of 3 Million
LensCulture Portfolio Account(2)
Opportunity to be in LensCulture Discoveries online directory of
top-rated photographers(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)LensCulture Portfolio Account: Available for all Series entries and 5+ Single entries
(3)Winners & Jurors Picks are automatically included in LensCulture Discoveries online directory.
© Karolina Ketmanová
© David Pruden
Show us your work
Become a part of our passionate community of photographers from around the world! When you share your work, you participate in a community with more than 3 million members worldwide. LensCulture is dedicated to offering you the best opportunities for exposure, engagement, recognition, and critical feedback. Don’t miss this opportunity―start your entry today! There are no limitations on age, level, genre or location. For further information, please see our FAQ.
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.
Closed for new entries.
© Julie Balfour
© Dmitry Bartenev
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
  • Alex Vasyliev
    Russian Federation
  • Ana Vallejo
  • Antonio Pulgarin
    United States
  • Diego Moreno
  • Heloisa Lodder
  • Juul Kraijer
  • Marinka Masséus
  • Mathieu Willcocks
    United Kingdom
  • Nadir Bucan
  • Rahima Gambo
  • Sheng Wen Lo
  • Tadas Kazakevičius
  • Vikesh Kapoor
    United States
  • Walter Plotnik
    United States
We respect artist’s 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.
© Roberto Di Patrizi