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FAQ – Eligible images and digital manipulation

Click on any of the Frequently Asked Questions below to expand the page and display the answer:

Are black and white images accepted?

Yes – take a look at the Winners’ Galleries from previous years and you will see some stunning B&W images, not least Larry Louie, Timothy Allen, Marsel van Oosten and Katy Gomez Catalina’s wonderful photographs that won the overall prize in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2019 respectively.

Does TPOTY accept transparencies/slides?

No, but we accept digital scans from transparencies/slides. In the past, too many entrants submitted great pictures as poor quality duplicate slides. This meant that the judges couldn’t assess the images properly, and as a result potentially winning entries were eliminated. With regret, we took the decision to accept prints and online submissions only – and, of course, those prints or online submissions can come from images originally shot on film, or digitally. Please note, for 2021 we are not accepting print entries.

Are digital images accepted?


Are panoramic images accepted?

Yes! In fact, our overall winner in 2007 won with panoramic images, and in 2006 there were two panoramic winners, one runner up and a commended. Images stitched to form a panoramic image will be accepted provided that the entrant declares, at the time of submission, that the final image has been produced in this way.

Are images shot using a drone or remote camera accepted?

Yes. Drone photography still requires the skills of the photographer to operate the drone and make the picture. Our overall winner in 2016 had images shot using a drone as part of his winning portfolios.

How much digital manipulation can I do?

In all categories, except the ‘One Shot: As Shot’ category, you can use digital manipulation to optimise an image, and you can crop an image but you are not permitted to add or remove key elements of the composition.

What is permitted in all categories except As Shot:

  • Cropping
  • Brightness, contrast, colour balance.
  • Dust spots and minor elements etc. can be retouched.
  • Sharpened before printing.
  • Editing which could realistically be achieved in a darkroom will be accepted but the judges have the discretion to reject any image which has been, in their opinion, over-manipulated, removing the integrity of the original image.
  • Multiple exposures in-camera.
  • Stitched panoramic images will be accepted provided that the entrant declares, at the time of submission, that the final image has been produced in this way
  • Images shot at different exposures/dynamic ranges and combined – HDR.
  • Focus stacking.

What is permitted in the ‘As Shot’ category:

  • Cropping
  • Brightness, contrast, colour balance.
  • Dust spots and minor elements etc. can be retouched.

N.B. No other digital manipulations are permitted in the As Shot category.

What’s NOT permitted in ANY category:

  • Composite or montaged images, from more than one original image, unless otherwise agreed by the organisers.
  • Adding, moving or removing objects.
  • Replacing backgrounds or foregrounds.
  • Embedded visible copyright notice or personal identification (entries are judged anonymously).

Entrants who are shortlisted will be required to provide the original image file (RAW or jpeg as shot) along with print and highest resolution versions of their image for final judging. Failure to do so will resort in disqualification at the judges’ discretion.

NOT PERMITTED: Adding or removing key elements of the composition other than by cropping. Montage of multiple images (see below).

Why can’t I enter composite or montaged images?

Composite or montaged images from more than one original image, are not eligible. This includes images shot at different exposures and combined. However, multiple exposure ‘in camera’ is permitted.

The reason for this is that TPOTY is a photography award not a digital manipulation award. If you have any doubts about the permissibility of your images then please contact us before submitting your entry. We will be happy to clarify and give you an answer directly related to your images.

Can I enter an image created through multiple exposure in camera?

Yes, images which have been produced by multiple exposure of the same frame/file are permiited. A final image created by combining different frames/files is not permitted accepted as a panoramic (see above). If an image is shortlisted, the original image must be provided along with the print for final judging.

Do I need to shoot new material to enter the awards?

No – we have always allowed entrants to submit images from their archives – i.e. contemporary photography shot in recent years – and have always said that ‘travel starts when you leave your home’. We want to stress that – as in 2020 – entrants should not make unnecessary journeys or break any lockdown that may be in force in their country of residence in order to take photographs to submit.

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