POY Nikon RJI | Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

Entry Standards and Specifications

Photographs entered must have been taken or published for the first time between Jan. 1, and Dec. 31, 2023.

First-time publication is defined as being published by a media organization in print or online. Personal web sites or social media accounts do not qualify.

A single photograph may be submitted only once among the single-picture categories.

A single photograph may be entered as a single photograph as part of a picture story, a portfolio as well as one premiere category: Community Awareness Award or Environmental Vision Award.

A picture story consists of 5–10 photos.

Do not submit alternate versions of a picture story with a different selection or sequence of photos.

15 submissions allowed per person

A maximum of 15 submissions can be entered in any combination of categories.

You may enter up to 10 entries in a single image category.

The definition of one submission:
One picture in a single-picture category.
One picture story (5-10 photographs).
One project (12-40 photographs) in the premiere categories.
One portfolio in the Angus McDougal Excellence in Editing, Documentary Storyteller, Photographer or Visual Editor of the Year categories.

POY reviews every submission in advance of judging. We often contact photographers for clarification. Once judging begins, judges have the discretion to disqualify entries if the entry does not meet the POY standards.

ENTRY TIP! Judges often review the category definitions when looking at images. Consider your category decisions carefully. Judges cannot move entries.

Photographs must be credited to an individual photographer. Team credits for single images are not allowed.

File Specifications

File naming

Your files are automatically renamed when you submit. It is not necessary to rename your files.

Photo specifications

File type: .JPG
Image Size: 3,000 pixels minimum on the longer side.
Resolution: 300 dpi, minimum.

Video and web site entries

Submit a thumbnail .jpg image and an active URL for each video and online entry.
Do not upload video files.
Include required usernames and passwords.

Required IPTC fields

Embed metadata into the images. The information automatically fills Picter’s fields.

Picture story sequence

The order or sequence of images you create will be preserved. You can change the sequence after you upload the images. POY cannot change the order of the pictures.

For the portfolio categories #27, #28 and #29, create a title slide (white text, black background). Put the title and story summary in the IPTC title and caption fields. Place the slide at the beginning of each story.

Print editing entries

We cannot accept .pdf files. Please convert them to .jpg files. This is a 1-click process in Adobe Bridge: File-Export to-Save as jpgs.

Please submit each page as a separate .jpg file. A double truck (two facing pages) should be submitted as a single .jpg file.

POY Ethics

Entries should be true representations of a news scene or candid moment. Documentary photographs cannot be posed, set up or staged. Portraits may be posed.

POY follows the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics. All captions and story summaries should meet journalistic standards for accuracy and publication requirements. Link to code of ethics: https://nppa.org/code-ethics

POY is open to amateur and professional photographers. Entrants may be independent or affiliated with media organizations such as newspapers, magazines, photo agencies, media companies, NGOs, or specialty advocacy organizations.

Personal portfolios, publications or websites are not allowed. Business promotions, catalogs, branded content or stories in which the funding organization is also the primary subject are not allowed.

We do not accept entries in which the subject is also the employer or restricted access was granted only to photographers hired by the organizing agency, such as a political party or a corporation. You cannot submit entries that feature your employer.

POY will not accept images and stories from government agencies or state-sponsored media that do not practice editorial independence.

ENTRY TIP! Heavily edited images can repel judges. Color images should replicate what the human eye experiences. Flagrant pre- or post-production effects that use excessive tonal aberrations, textures, vignettes, color saturation or other manipulations may be disqualified.

POY will not accept AI-generated images or text in any category. Photojournalism is based on eye-witness reporting with a camera.

POY accepts two photographic modes: color and black and white. Black and white images should be bi-tonal and display a full grayscale range of 256 intensities from black to white. Black & white image files that artificially impose a color shift, such as sepia or cyan tones, may be disqualified.

Entries must not be digitally manipulated or altered through post-production processing. Routine post-production processing of images for exposure correction, white balance and color toning is acceptable. Adding, altering, or removing elements is not permitted. Excessive saturation or desaturation is also not allowed.

A photograph of a photograph may serve as a detail image in a picture story or project.

Smartphone images are allowed. However, filters that apply excessive tonal aberrations, textures, vignettes, or other manipulations are not allowed.

Diptychs and triptychs are not allowed. Digitally manufactured photo illustrations, masks, borders, backgrounds, text, handwritten notes, or other effects are prohibited.

Film edges are allowed if the original photograph was shot on Polaroid or film (negative or transparency) and the border is the true nature of the medium.

POY may request the original RAW or JPG image files from a random selection of photographs voted to final places by the jury, plus any images that the jury or POY staff request. Any photograph that does not meet POY standards will be disqualified.

Caption Criteria

Each photograph must include a caption that meets journalistic standards for accuracy and be ready for publication. Captions that are inaccurate or falsely represent the picture content may be disqualified.

Please verify the creation date. Each caption should include a date. For example, “The photo was taken on Feb. 4, 2023,” or “The photo was taken in February 2023.”

Do not include your name or organization in the caption.

IPTC data can be embedded into images using programs such as Photoshop, Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, or Bridge. The description fields will populate automatically.

ENTRY TIP! Captions are read in the final rounds of each category. Well-written captions with relevant details strengthen your entry.

Portfolio Criteria

All premier categories are open to everyone.

ENTRY TIP! The title slide provides important context. Keep it short!

Picture stories in portfolios are not limited to 10 images.

All photographs should include captions. You are encouraged to use the caption field to expand on story details.

Single images may not be repeated in a picture story in the same portfolio.

ENTRY TIP! Picture story entries should have a clearly defined structure. Each image should contribute unique information. In the final rounds, judges often focus on the quality of the edit. Eliminate weak and redundant images.

If you enter work from your portfolio into single or picture story categories, you must upload separate entries into those categories.

Documentary Criteria

The term “documentary” is defined as a non-fiction, video narrative, relying on visual evidence to report real situations or events involving real subjects. The photographer should follow the concepts of observational and direct cinema techniques.

All documentary entries should adhere to strict journalistic ethics. The content should represent the news, issues, or cultural trends.

Documentaries must be published online or shared publicly via broadcast or festivals during 2023. However, an entry may include content from previous years. Documentaries entered in previous years are not allowed.

Entries should be presented in a linear format, edited in a timeline sequence, and presented in a web-based video player. In other words, the viewer clicks "play”, and the story runs from start to finish.

Do not upload video files. Submit a thumbnail image and an active URL link. If a password access is required, please include a password and username.

Not allowed are fictional stories, staged reenactments, docu-dramas, or television news reports where an anchor person tells the story.