10 Creative Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Photo Contest Themes Ideas

For me, photography started as a passion and only later became a profession. But as much as I have learned over the years, I still consider myself a student of photography, as there is just so much to learn! A few years after starting in photography, I entered many themed photography competitions and eventually managed to get first place.

Participating in photography competitions can sometimes earn you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, as well as fame as a exciting reputation.

Starting as a photographer many years ago, there was no chance then to become as famous as you can become now. Digital media has completely, changed the landscape however. Now anyone can become famous and earn a living as a photographer. There exist many organizations that promote photography education, as well as many online classes offering lessons on technique. You can join these as a student, a teacher, or just as a fun hobby. These groups often organize photography competitions, which are always a great idea for boosting creativity and coming with new ideas.

I can still remember my photo competition. As I read the guidelines, I realized that I would have to move across to the other side of the village. The theme was street dogs. Luckily, my friends helped me track down these dogs for the competition, and I ended up winning first place!

There are certain rules

There are endless themes in photography, and there are endless competitions taking place around the globe to explore these themes. As a member of any competitions you need to always be aware of the rules and regulations involved within them. If you don’t follow these rules, your photos could very well be denied.

When it comes down to themes in photography, I think there are two main objectives. The first one is creativity. The second is commercial value.

Things to remember when setting up a photo contest:

Most photo contests today have several aspects, including brand promotion and advertising. Often, these contests are organized by groups like Facebook or Instagram, with the main objective being commercial promotion. There are also photography competitions put together art clubs and photography clubs, which are more geared towards fostering creativity. Keep in mind that if you are participating in the aforementioned social media contests, your work can be vulnerable. Here are some tricks to follow if this is the case.

Using specially programmed applications

If your photo contest is based on social media, you should be prepared for some possibly fraudulent activity. A lot of individuals can band together to provide extra likes for specific photos, using fake accounts to multiply likes. You can find apps to use that are specially designed to track IP addresses and recognize voters specifically. If you are afraid that this may be happening to you, it is always best to involve the authorities.

Image entry system:

Photo contests often charge for image entries, and restrict the maximum number of entries allowed for individuals. Some contests are actually free to enter, and don’t require any sort of registration fees. When these contests are digitally based, the quality of the uploading system can be crucial. Most HD images are of a large size, and RAW photos tend to be even larger. Therefore it is the organizers duty to to provide an error-free system for uploading these images to their website.

Selecting a theme:

The most important part of a photo contest is the theme. As participants need to focus on these themes, as they judges will be paying close attention when looking for them. If for example the mentioned b&w photos, all participants must submit in b&w only. While there are literally hundreds of photography themes, most of them tend to be based on nature, candid shots, street art, wildlife, working professionals, and macro shots.

Avoid highly modified photographs:

Most creative photography contests don’t allow highly modified images. Participants are usually allowed to touch up their images to a certain extent. If however, you are participating in an only photography contest for professional purposes you often are granted far more freedom to modify images, because the goal is more to attract a wide range of customers who may not know that much about photography.

Booking an art gallery:

Art galleries tend to be the best places for photo contests. These locations should be spacious to accommodate large amounts of guests. There should be proper lighting to showcase larger photographs, as well as properly illuminate all images in the gallery should an individual want to purchase them.

Jury boards:

This is the most important part of contest for both online and traditional contests. Especially in traditional gallery-based photo contest, visitors are very much aware of photography. Some of them may come from elite society. Jury board’s decision is the final. This should be declared in the very beginning of the contest.

This tends to be the most important part of photography contests for both online and traditional contests. Traditional gallery-based photo contests tend to depend more on the view of the visitors, as they tend to come from all walks of life. Remember, the jury’s decision tends to always be final, but you should check the rules prior to entering.


Photographers are often attracted to these contests because of the valuable prizes they offer. This could be money, vouchers, or even a brand new professional-grade camera.

Fun photo contest ideas:

Babies being the evergreen fun photo contest idea. Babies are driven by moods and express varieties of gestures. Capturing those brilliant moments is a fun.

Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Taking photos of your pets running around is also a great idea, as they can often present you with hilarious material.

Enacted photo shoot like a boy is trying to impress a girl by ridiculous activity is a wonderful fun photo contest idea. To do this you may have to hire professional model. If you are a college going student then you can request your friend to

Setting up photo shoots that tell a story can also be quite enjoyable. For example, you can get a couple of friends you to to act as if they are in love but can’t seem to get it right. To do this, you may have to hire a professional model or two. If you are a poor college student, just pester your friends!

Some of the best photography themes tend to be in motion, so it is always wise to shoot them on a high shutter speed. I prefer a shutter speed over 500 with the aperture set wide open. As it is difficult to focus on these objects with a manual focus lens, try to use a camera with auto-focus.

Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Pet photo contest ideas

People love pets, the number of pet lovers increasing day by day. Many photography club and organization are organizing pet photo contest around the globe.

People love pets, and the number of those individuals tend to grow every day. Many photography contests you will come across will have this as their theme.

  • Dog shows are always a great place to capture photographs, as you can shoot different kinds of dogs moving with their masters. If you have your own dog, then maybe make them a subject.Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Go to an open field and let your dog run around. Capturing running dogs frame by frame is an excellent idea. You also can capture their lovely eyes and funny gestures.Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Throw a dog biscuit in the air, and try to get your dog to jump in the air to catch it. Take this photo with a high shutter speed and auto focus.

  • Bird shows are another great place for shooting pets. The various types of colorful birds make great subjects, and this is a great place to catch them standing still.Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Bird shows often also have birds showcased in “natural” positions, which can give you the chance to shoot like a wildlife photographer.

  • If you enjoy fish, than maybe try visiting famous aquariums and taking photographs. The choices on this will vary from person to person. For example I know an individual who shot photos of his snake, which was a novel idea and easy because of their lack of movement.

You could also capture a shot of a rabbit funnily chewing his food.

Creative photo contest ideas

Most photo competition theme ideas evolve around creative concepts, like street photography, candid photography, macro photography, wildlife photography and even arial photography.

Street photography:

These types of photos are an attemp to capture candid shots of daily life on the street. You could name albums full of shots like this something like “Rainy Day, Men at Work”.Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Another creative concept is to capture the shadow of a walking person. Whatever you capture that should make a sense. It’s a genre of candid photography.

Night life photography

Life on street is another interesting concept. A good photographer with a sense of art can create almost any theme out of street photography. Remember, proper exposure is very important for these images.

Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Creative motion-blur effect:

This is another good way to make something look more creative. Sometimes it requires some technical knowledge. Suppose for example you are shooting a running horse. A shot like this can be much more exciting than just taking an image of a standing horse.

Photo Contest Themes Ideas

If you can take photos with proper light and exposure, you can capture animals in all of their glory. The horse will almost look alive in the photo. To create this sense of life, you will want a low to moderate shutter speed. Because this effect uses blurring, you will have to experiment with changing the light levels and exposure time.

Delightful fireworks:

Firework photography is an outstanding example of creative photography. You can also call it light photography.

Photo Contest Themes Ideas

The best kind of fireworks for these types of photos tend to be professional-grade fireworks. This kind of photography is usually shot at night with a tripod. Photographers also often use bulb mode to shoot fireworks.

Playing with water:

This is another subject. Have you ever captured a splash of water? If not, you can try it. Splashing water in your face is a wonderful idea. By using high shutter speed you can capture each and every droplet of water in the air which makes the photo look more energetic. You probably have seen this kind of photo on roadside billboards.Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Candid portraits:

This is a cool subject. Capturing natural expressions of a person can have a special charm. Photographers often choose wrinkly faced people to get a nice contrast

Photo Contest Themes Ideas

The main aspect of candid photography is that you have to capture the moods and expressions of the subject without him or her noticing.

Repetition of objects:

This type of creative photography deals with repetitive objects like castle arches, trees in a row, structural marvels, etc.

Photo Contest Themes Ideas

Playing with shapes:

You can find various kinds of shapes in nature. Capturing naturally occurring geometric shapes found in nature is another idea. You may have visited mountain cities before, which are great for these kinds of shots.

When there are photo competitions, I suggest you visit art galleries to have some experience with these various themes. Most exhibitions are organized in the spring.Photo Contest Themes Ideas

These are some traditional themes for photography competitions. Some of the most famous photo competitions are organized around the globe by top ranking photography schools and are almost always based on these themes.

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