2021 Focus on the Story Portrait Awards — Call for Entries

Call for Entries

Focus on the Story Portrait Awards 2021

© Chinelle Rojas

We are looking for portraits that tell rich, vibrant stories.

At its best, a portrait’s composition, lighting, setting and subject come together to tell a story in a way that needs no words. A single image of a person or group of people can invite us to explore backgrounds, experiences and cultures different from our own. The face of a stranger can fill us with a sense of our shared humanity. The Focus on the Story Portrait Awards recognize photo-based artists who have achieved excellence at telling stories through the people they photograph. We will make awards in a single category:

Best Single Image

Winner, first runner-up, second runner-up and honorable mentions will be exhibited at the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival in Washington, D.C. in June 2021. We will also publish winners in our festival catalog and in an annual “best of” book. Focus on the Story will award $1,000 to an overall winner, $500 to the first runner-up and $250 to the second runner-up.

Entries Close on January 14 at 11:59 p.m. ET

(Photo at the top of the page is a self-portrait by Chinelle Rojas)

Submit via LensCulture

This competition is hosted in an agreement between LensCulture and Focus on the Story.

By entering this contest you acknowledge you have read the terms and conditions.

Once you click the “enter” button, you will be redirected to the LensCulture website so that you can sign up for an account and submit your entry through the online entry portal.

Featured Submissions

Images are refreshed in random order. To see the full Editor’s Gallery, click here.

Awards and Benefits

Festival Exhibition

Winners, runners-up and select honorable mentions will be exhibited at the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival in Washington, DC.

$1,750 in Awards

The overall winner will receive a $1,000 award, with the first runner-up receiving $500 and the second runner-up receiving $250.

Catalog and Book Features

Winners, runners-up and select honorable mentions will be published in the festival catalog and an annual “best of” book.

Open to All Portrait Genres

An independent jury impaneled by Focus on the Story will select winners and finalists. Jurors will evaluate entries on how well the images tell a story, their use of light and composition and how well the setting complements the storytelling.

In addition to being featured in an outdoor installation at Focus on the Story 2021 and in a virtual gallery, Focus on the Story will invite the winners to talk about their work in front of an international online audience during the festival.

This call is open to all genres of portraiture, including environmental, studio, fine art, family, candid and street. Photos can be staged, however, no people or objects may be digitally added, rearranged, reversed, distorted or removed from a photograph. Additionally, staged photos must clearly be identified as such in the caption. Likewise, images purporting to be documentary or photojournalism should comply with the ethical guidelines of the National Press Photographers Association (https://nppa.org/code-ethics).

Focus on the Story Portrait Awards 2021 Jurors

Jide Alakija
International wedding and documentary photographer; Nikon Ambassador.
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Rhonisha Franklin
Portrait photographer; winner Sony Alpha Female+ Grant
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Kirsten Lewis
Documentary photographer, co-founder of the Documentary Family Awards.
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Priyanca Rao
New York City-based wedding, engagement, portrait, family photographer and educator.
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Chinelle Rojas
Self-portrait artist, logo designer. Fujifilm X-Photographer.
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Matt Sayles
LA-based entertainment, fashion, and documentary photographer.
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How we will use your images

The full terms and conditions are here. Please be sure to read them before entering.

Our primary goal is to curate an exhibit for the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival to be held in June 2021 in Washington, D.C.

By answering this open call, you are giving us permission to use your photo(s) in that exhibition, which is planned to be both a physical installation, as well as a virtual one.

You are also giving us permission to post your photo(s) on our social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We may do this to help promote the open call, as well as to recognize our winners and finalists. You can see examples of how we do this here, here and here. Some of these posts are promoted through Facebook’s “sponsored post” option.

You are also giving us permission to publish your photo in our festival catalog. You can see our 2020 catalog here. If you are a winner or a finalist, we may also publish your work in a “best of” book.

We may also use your photos to promote future open calls that we host. One way we might do that is to use your image in a slider image, like here or here, or in an email promoting the next open call, or in a video that recognizes your work, like here.

We make no claims on your copyright and if we use your image, it will only be in relation to our open calls, either in a promotion or as an example of past entries. We are obsessive about crediting photographers, so whenever possible, and it’s almost always possible, we’ll credit you and link back to your website or social media account.

Please contact us at info@focusonthestory.org if you have any questions.

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