Head On Photo Awards 2021 - $70K in cash and prizes

Head On Photo Awards Portrait, Landscape, student

Head On Photo Awards

Entries for 2021 now closed

Explore past finalists

Image: Elena Anosova

Finalists for 2021

Finalists for the 2021 Head On Photo Awards will be announced in November. Winners will be announced during the opening night of Head On Photo festival on Friday 4 November.

About Head On Photo Awards

We have been helping photographers to create, exhibit and inspire since 2004. Since then, we have awarded over $700,000 in cash and prizes to photographers all over the world.

The Head On Photo Awards represent a global selection of the best work from emerging and established photographers across three categories:

Portrait | Landscape | Student

The Head On Portrait and Landscape Awards are open INTERNATIONALLY to professional, emerging and enthusiast photographers from classical to contemporary styles, and the Head On Student Award is open to Australia’s young photographers (school years K-12).

Selection process

Work is judged anonymously; no identifying details of the photographer will be visible to the judges to ensure that the photographer's celebrity and/or the subject of the image does not affect the selection process.

Judging panel

The judging panel is comprised of leaders in the Australian and international photography communities. It represents all aspects of the photography world, including curators, picture editors, photographers, educators and other industry leaders.


Head On Photo Festival launch event
Image credit: John Swainston

Prizes and exposure

Over 2000 people attended the 2019 Head On Photo Festival launch, where the Head On Photo Award winners were announced.

The Head On Photo Awards exhibitions receive large visitation across key Festival venues and have toured nationally and internationally.

In 2020, the awards ceremony and Festival launch was live-streamed around the world and finalists shared $70,000 prize pool including $30,500 in cash.

Printed Finalists exhibition

Curators walkthrough 2019 Portrait Award Photo: Stephen Godfrey

The Head On Photo Awards Finalists’ exhibitions will be open to the public during Head On Photo Festival 2021 at the Festival Hub (subject to public health orders). The Festival Hub is at the heart of the Festival where talks, tours and school excursions take place; in 2019, the Hub attracted over 12,000 visits. Head On team curates, designs and produces the exhibitions and the Festival covers all associated costs (once you enter your image, we do the rest).

In 2020 in response to Covid-19 lockdown, Head On presented the entire Head On Photo Awards as online exhibitions as part of Head On(line), the world's first photo festival delivered entirely online.

Head On Photo Awards catalogue


Each year we produce a limited edition, 120-page printed catalogue of the Finalists’ work. The high quality 20x20cm hardback book contains a full page for each photograph and is available for purchase at the Festival Hub or in our online store.

Tips for entering Photo Contests

Pick me! Get into photo awards

Having difficulty choosing the right images to enter into photo awards? Join us when Head On Photo Festival Creative Director, Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, shares his tips and expertise for entering photo competitions and answers your burning questions.

International Head On Photo Awards Categories

Portrait Award

Head On Portrait Award 2020 International runner upPhoto credit: Jouk Oosterhof

The image must feature or reflect the essence of a person or group of people and must be photographed by the Applicant. Group portraits, self-portraits and collages are accepted.

Landscape Award

Head On Landscape Award 2020 WinnerPhoto credit: Marcia Macmillan

Our approach to ‘landscape’ is very broad and encompasses ‘large vista’ images of the natural environment (land or sea), urban or industrial settings. It may include people, but these should be ‘incidental’ rather than the main subject matter.

2020 Head On Photo Awards announcement of winners