The final submission deadline for this year’s IAFOR Documentary Photography Award has now passed.

Winners will be announced at The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia), which will be held October 09–11 in Tokyo, Japan. The award follows the theme of the conference, with 2018’s theme being “Fearful Futures”.

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If a submission is incomplete or incorrectly entered, it will not be considered by the judges. Therefore, please ensure that you carefully follow the instructions listed on this page before submitting your work.

The IAFOR Documentary Photography Award expects all participants to act in accordance with the guidelines of professional conduct as specified in the IFJ Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists.

Submission Requirements

Each applicant may submit 10 to 20 images related to the award theme, either in the form of a photo-essay or as a collection of single images.

Applicants must be 30 years old or younger on September 12, 2018 OR enrolled in part-time or full-time education on September 12, 2018 (proof may be required).

The majority of images should have been made during 2017-2018. However, at the discretion of the judges, images made earlier than 2017 will be allowed if they form part of a photo-essay continued during 2017-2018.

Photographs must be submitted via the online submission system on the submission page. A username and password are required to enter the award. Once you have completed the registration process, you will be sent a confirmation email.

You are able to make as many changes as you like to your submission before the final deadline of midnight on September 12, 2018 (Greenwich Mean Time – GMT). Once the submission deadline has passed, the images currently uploaded to your profile will be the images that are entered into the competition.

Only entries submitted via the award website will be accepted. Entries submitted by email, or by post on a USB or CD, will not be accepted.

We accept high-quality scanned images of non-digital photographs. We do not accept hard copies (prints) of photographs.

Though every effort will be made to contact applicants with incomplete submissions, if a submission is incomplete (e.g. the images have not been uploaded correctly), it will not be considered by the judges. We are not responsible for incomplete entries.

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Project Description and Photographer’s Biography

Along with your images, please submit a project description about the photo-essay / portfolio of images entered into the award and how it relates to the project theme of “Fearful Futures” (see below for more information). Your project description should be no more than one A4 page in length (approximately 500 words).

Please also submit a short biography of the photographer (approximately 100–300 words).

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2018 Award Theme – “Fearful Futures”

We live in a period characterised by rises in regionalism, nationalism and authoritarianism; a time of great global uncertainty and anxiety, as well as inequality and iniquity which both reflects and drives political divide, and undermines international systems of cooperation. Clashes of identities, beliefs and ideologies contribute to a feeling that humanity is spiralling out of control; that our relationships with each other, as well as with the earth and environment, have never been worse.

Yet, as humans, we are not conditioned by fear alone, but instead by a remarkable ingenuity, and a capacity for hope, self-reflection, activism and action. This agency to improve our own lives, and those of others, is the theme of this year’s IAFOR Documentary Photography Award, inviting us to consider the ways in which we contextualise and process the past, reimagining ourselves, our relationships, and our environments; driving positive change and reclaiming the future as a time we look towards with hope, and even optimism.

We hope that the broad nature of this theme will encourage photographers to submit work that addresses these perspectives, and others that connect and arise.

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Story Proposal

Please submit a story proposal for an assignment that you would undertake if you were to win the award. The story proposal must be uploaded via the online submission system during the registration process. Your story proposal should be no more than one A4 page in length (approximately 500 words). Your story proposal should demonstrate that you have researched the subject and should include a breakdown of your budget. Please include references and links to information regarding the subject. The story proposal is an important aspect of your submission, and will be carefully considered by the judges.

Important: The story proposal can be a continuation of the submitted photo-essay / portfolio of images entered into the award. Though the submitted images/portfolio must be related to the award theme, with 2018’s theme being “Fearful Futures”, it is not necessary for the submitted story proposal to be related to the award theme.

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Size and Quality

  • Images must include your full name and image number in the file info. For example, 01_firstname_surname.jpg
  • Images must be uploaded in jpg / jpeg format (medium to high quality).
  • Images should be saved at 300 dpi.
  • Images should be saved at 3000 pixels on the longest edge.
  • Images should be no more than 10mb per image. If your images are larger than 10mb, please adjust your quality settings.
  • An embedded ICC profile is needed. Adobe RGB or sRGB is recommended for colour images. Gamma 2.2 is recommended for black and white. No CMYK.
  • Both black and white and colour photographs are accepted.

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Titles and Captions

The following information should be entered when uploading your images via the online submission system.

  • Image title
  • Image caption

Captions may include anything noteworthy about the photograph, including details about the subject pictured, the context of the image, the location where the image was made, and the date it was made. Do not use all upper case. Please check your spelling, facts and grammar. Please limit your captions to 40 words or less. Do not list any caption over 40 words.

Once an image has been uploaded it is not possible to edit its caption or title. Therefore, if you need to change a title or caption, please delete the image and re-upload it. You will then have the opportunity to add a new title and caption.

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Image Adjustments

The content of an image must not be altered or retouched beyond the accepted standards allowed by the industry. The jury will ultimately decide whether an image conforms to these standards.

Minor adjustments are acceptable in the following areas.

  • Levels
  • Curves
  • Dodging
  • Burning
  • Minimal sharpening
  • Contrast
  • Colour correction

Images with added borders, personal logos, embedded watermarks or other effects (such as HDR or selective colouring) will not be accepted. Images must not show the name of a photographer or the name of the agency or publication that the photographer belongs to. This information can be included in the metadata of the image but must not be visible on the image itself.

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If you are having difficulty submitting your images, it may be for one of the following reasons:

  • You have already uploaded the maximum number of 20 images
  • One or more of your submitted files is over 10mb in size
  • Your file is in the wrong file format (jpg/jpeg only)
  • The website is experiencing high levels of traffic – please try again later
  • You are using the Chrome browser. Users of Chrome may experience problems when uploading. We recommend uploading on another browser such as Firefox.

If your file upload is taking a long time, try uploading fewer files at once.

If you continue to experience difficulties, please address your questions to Thaddeus Pope (

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