2021 Photography Awards Rules, Categories & FAQs


30 June 2021 – Closing date for photography heat 1
31 August 2021 – Closing date for photography heat 2
31 October 2021 – Closing date for photography heat 3

Once a heat closes, the next one will open the next day.  So if you almost made the deadline but then forgot – go ahead and submit them straight away to the next heat.


Can videographer members enter photography heats?

Yes. Both photography and videography heats are open to all full members.

Where can I find my Awards Login details?

For all our newer members who joined in the past 12 months or so, your details were included in your onboarding email when you became a Full Member of the IPPVA.

If you search for the subject line: “Congratulations – you have been awarded your Licentiateship with the IPPVA”, you’ll find everything you need in that email.

If you still cannot find your login details, please contact straight away. 

For other members, try the “Lost Your Password” link, but if you cannot remember your account’s email, please email so as not to lock yourself out with failed attempts.

Please make sure you log in to the system several days in advance in case there is a problem.  Support is not available 24/7 so do not wait until 23:55 on the closing date to log in for the first time.

Note: the IPPVA Awards Website is separate from the IPPVA website and may have different email addresses and passwords set up.


  • Real-Time Judging: Over two evenings, the judges will meet online to judge the images simultaneously.  This will allow for discussion of some images.  This session will be recorded and available to members to watch later.  
  • Membership benefit: 12 free award entries per year – 1 per category per heat. (€120 value). *In 2021 because of the delayed start there will be 3 heats instead of 4, so it will be 9 free award entries this year. 
  • Heat Schedule will be announced in advance for the year.
  • No Recategorizing of images: Pre-moderation will still happen to make sure entries abide by the rules.  But we will no longer re-categorize entries. It is the responsibility of each member to read the category description and enter accordingly.  Judges will be instructed to mark down any images that are obviously in the wrong category.  The real time judging will facilitate discussion on images with respect to category.
  • Judge’s score: It will now be a single score from judges, no more impact, technical and creative breakdown.
  • The 2-year restriction on when an image was created will be relaxed this year due to Covid.  You can enter images taken from 1 January 2018.
  • Judges: A list of the judges will be published.
  • Entry fee: €10 per image.


Login in at IPPVA Competition System.

  • Click the ‘more information’ button on the current heat.
  • Click ‘Enter Competition’ and accept the Terms and Conditions
  • You will be presented with the categories and upload buttons
  • Upload your entries
  • Confirm your entries look right and once you are happy with everything then hit the Pay Now button at the foot of the page

We strongly suggest that you make all your submissions before paying to keep the process simple.  Once your entry is paid it will be valid.  No other steps are required. 

IPPVA Awards System // Login


NEW MEMBERSHIP BENEFIT: In each heat, you may enter 1 image per category, up to 3 categories, free of charge!

2nd and subsequent images in a category: €10. 


Close attention needs to be paid to the technical specification of the submitted images also:

  • Ensure that all images are 4000 pixels on the longest edge
  • Ensure that images are in sRGB and saved as JPEGs.
  • Run images through JPEGmini and/or save with 80% quality to keep file sizes manageable.
  • Images must be < 8MB.
  • No borders are permitted, except in Press where a small are below the image can be used for a plain text caption that does not identify the photographer.

Please note that part of the T&C’s of entry are that images entered into the awards competition are promotable and only images which may be used in promotion should be entered.  You MUST have a signed model release!

Additionally, the awards system is not intended to be a mentoring system, so please enter only your best work.  This means making sure images are the best possible in ALL aspects. Colour balance, exposure, focus, tone, detail, composition, cropping, posing etc.  


While filenames get scrambled during upload to preserve anonymity, you should use the following naming convention for your images.  This will facilitate us in keeping track of the original images in the future.

e.g. CorinBishop-PO-2001-01.jpg  


Architectural  AR
Commercial  CM
Fine Art  FA
Landscape  LS
Newborn  NB
Open Creative  OC
Portrait  PO
Press  PP
Wedding Classic  WCL
Wedding Creative  WCR
Wedding Documentary  WD

RULES – Photography

  • Images must have been taken on/after 1 January 2018 and not part of any other IPPVA competition.
  • There is a maximum of 5 entries per category, per heat. With a total entry per heat not exceeding 15.
  • The images must be anonymous and, in the case of images pertinent to advertising campaigns, they must not contain any text or graphic elements, which were not part of the original exposure. Images containing text will be immediately disqualified.
  • Commissioned Works: All images in the Commercial, Architectural, Press, Portrait, Newborn and Weddings must be on a commissioned/real portrait/real wedding basis. The photographer must be able to provide proof of the commission. If the photographer is unsure of the eligibility of any images, they should contact the awards chairperson to check.
  • In the case of Weddings, the images must have been taken a real wedding at which the photographer was the principal photographer.
  • Images taken at seminars and workshops are not allowed, with the exception of the Landscape and Open Creative category where it would count as ‘personal’.
  • Fine Art and Landscape categories may contain un-commissioned, speculative (i.e. future sales work).
  • Personal images, either from workshops or personal projects should be entered into the Open Creative category.
  • Images with the same subject/scene cannot be entered into multiple categories. This rule applies to each heat and across all heats in the same awards year.
  • By entering the IPPVA Photographer of the Year competition you confirm that you:
    • Hold the copyright for the image(s) that you submit
    • Have signed permission from the client/subject in question to enter the image
  • All images submitted must be at the correct size and resolution (see Technical specification)
  • No adjustments can or will be made by the IPPVA or its Judges to images that are not correctly sized
  • Nude images should only be entered in the Fine Art Category.
  • You agree to accept that the judges’ decision is final.
  • Composite images: In any image, where multiple images are composited, either in part or whole, all elements must have been photographed by the entrant. The individual entering acknowledges that all parts making up the image are solely shot by him/her, however insignificant that or those parts may be in the final image.
  • It is a condition of entry that the IPPVA may use your images to promote the association and standards in professional photography through all media channels. Your statutory rights are not affected in any way by this condition but if you so wish you may write to us to withhold your work from any and all promotions.



An image of the interior or exterior of a building or structure, in whole or in part, as a detail or graphic, where the integrity, design and structure of the building are the primary focus of the image.

The image must be sympathetic to the architectural elements of the structure. While there is an obvious emphasis on the technical elements of the image, the judges will be looking for harmony between design of the building/structure and the composition of the image.

  • Good use of composition
  • Use of light and time of day
  • Good use of camera lens, camera angle and camera height
  • Correct perspective (either corrected or deliberately emphasised perspective)
  • Control of depth of field


Any image that is commissioned to illustrate a product, people, expertise or to promote brand awareness. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Product Photography
  • Fashion Photography
  • Promotion of Brand or Corporate Identity
  • Corporate Portraits
  • An image used to convey an idea or concept
  • Please note that any exterior or interior images should be entered in Architectural

The normal judging criteria of course applies here but there is a strong emphasis on the technical elements of the image, i.e.

  • Control and use of colour, contrast and tone
  • Presentation
  • Detail and sharpness
  • Fulfilling the client brief


In this category we are heavily into the realm of creative photography in all mediums. Human Form is included. Anything that contributes artistically to the image is allowed including editing, manipulation, compositing, use of illustration and graphic elements. All elements in the images must be taken by the photographer. No stock imagery may be used as part of the composition. All elements must be photographed/produced by the entrant. Landscape and urban landscapes should not be entered in this category.

  • Artistic Merit, Originality and Style
  • Technical ability
  • Composition
  • Storytelling


Any image that portrays a landscape or urban landscape. Judges will be looking for a strong emphasis on originality and artistic merit. Images taken at common/popular Landscape locations will require something very unique in their approach in order to stand out. Fine Art Landscapes are also a part of this category.  Images may be black and white. Stitched panoramas are acceptable.

Particular attention will be paid to

  • Composition
  • Originality
  • Use of Light
  • Colour, tone and dynamic rang


A Newborn portrait must include a newborn baby that is less than 6 weeks past their due date. This will allow for babies who are born premature to be included in this category when they are well enough to be photographed. The image may include other people including parents, siblings, pets, etc. All images that include a newborn must be entered in this category. The style is open to classic and documentary and can be done in studio, at home or environmental. Newborn images must be derived from commissioned portrait sessions and images with the same subject and/or from the same scene/session cannot be entered into multiple categories. If it is personal work, such as the photographer’s baby, it should be entered in the Open Creative category.

No composite images can be used unless ALL elements of the composite are also photographed by the entrant. Digital backgrounds may not be used unless photographed by the entrant.

Additional pointers:

  • Use of lighting appropriate to the style of portrait
  • Posing of the subject(s) particular to newborn portraiture
  • Flattering angles of the newborn
  • Emotional Impact


The Open Creative category will be for anything the photographer would like to have judged which does not meet the criteria for other categories, including personal work. Additionally, if anyone is trying to branch out into other genres of photography, they can enter their work here. All judges, regardless of which categories they judge, will judge this category.

Examples of images for this category include (but are not limited to):

  • Travel/documentary photography
  • Personal portrait work
  • Personal Landscapes
  • Photographs featuring photographer’s own family members


From a single subject to family groups. Young and old. Pets may be included in this category either on their own or with family members. The style may be classic, modern, documentary or environmental. This is a social category. Corporate Portraits would be under the Commercial Category. Likewise, Fine Art Portraits fall under Fine Art. Please bear in mind that Portrait images must be derived from commissioned portrait sessions and that images with the same subject and/or from the same scene/session cannot be entered into multiple categories.

No composite images can be used unless ALL elements of the composite are also photographed by the entrant

Documentary and environment portraits are included in this category

Additional pointers:

  • Use of lighting appropriate to the style of portrait
  • Direction and posing of the subject(s)
  • Interaction between the subject and the viewer
  • Emotional Impact


Any image that captures an event or newsworthy item that would be of interest to the public or a specific group. An image that creates awareness of what is going on in the world, be it at local, international or global level.

The judges will be expecting a high level of journalistic merit to an image.

Images should be captioned just below the image, not over the image itself – a small border may be used to accomplish this.

Images must be commissioned, published works or speculative (i.e. with the intention to sell to publications).

Press images are distinct from Commercial images.

No composites allowed. All images must be produced using standard camera and lighting techniques.


Posed, traditional or classic photography – The classic style focuses on taking posed shots of the couple and the group at large and involves a lot of direction from the photographer. It may not necessarily capture the emotions of the day as whole, but will give some beautiful traditional shots.

This category shows reverence to the classic wedding images of the past that are the definition of timeless.


Creative Photography closely follows market trends or even sets new ones. Creative wedding photography is modern, contemporary, fresh and exciting. This style of image may have many of the classic elements, but also incorporates many modern and creative elements, often pushing the boundaries beyond the norm in wedding photography.

Posing or client interactions may be unusual and break convention. Compositions, cropping and styles of processing may also be key elements in an award-winning image of this type. The photographer must clearly convey their understanding of the elements of modern, creative photography and show that they have attempted to understand the genre.

These shots may be less about the mood of the day or the couple as characters, but instead the vision and artistic style of the photographer.


Also known as reportage or journalistic photography. The aim of this type of photographic style is to document the wedding day in an unobtrusive fashion, conveying a clear narrative. The photographer must show that the image was completely undirected and had a ‘hands-off’ approach when taken.

It is imperative that the image tells a story. This is where there is a difference between documentary and candid. There are many moments that can be captured on the fly, i.e. ‘candidly’ but this does not necessarily make it a documentary image. The judges will be looking for a story/drama/life/emotion, looking to see that the photographer has composed the shot to include the elements needed to convey that story. A simple candid shot is not documentary, judges will be looking for more.