ZEISS Photography Award 2020

"Seeing Beyond – Discoveries"

Pushing the limits of creativity

Launched in 2016 by the World Photography Organisation and ZEISS, the ZEISS Photography Award rewards the world’s most distinctive image-makers creating outstanding series showing their individual way of seeing the world.

Photographers are challenged to submit bodies of work responding to a particular theme. The 2020 brief is "Seeing Beyond – Discoveries" and the submissions will be judged by three experts in the photography industry. The ZEISS Photography Award seeks out to celebrate those photographers pushing the creative boundaries of the medium while demonstrating a strong visual narrative.

15 October 2019 until 4 February 2020

2020 Brief

Seeing Beyond – Discoveries

For the 2020 ZEISS Photography Award photographers are asked to respond to the theme "Seeing Beyond – Discoveries".

Throughout time the human race has been driven to make discoveries. This might be a personal revelation, a scientific and technological breakthrough or an idea that has led to social change - a new way of thinking that’s revolutionised our everyday lives. Since photography’s inception, many great individuals have seen the camera as a tool to explore and question the world, and used the power of the image to shed light on something new.

Epiphanies, inventions and transformations from the known to the unknown, we want to see something new. Submissions exploring the landscape, humans, science, political or economic changes, or even something more conceptual, are all welcome.

While all creative responses are encouraged, submissions must actively explore the topic of the brief. The series should be between five to ten images, have a clear narrative that aligns with the brief (Seeing Beyond – Discoveries) and visual consistency.

Entrants can submit all different types of photography – be that in technique or subject matter. All submissions must be accompanied by a supporting statement which outlines the story behind the work.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 13:00 (GMT), February 4, 2020

The competition is closed, many thanks to all participants. The winner will be announced soon.

22 November 2018 until 8 February 2019

The ZEISS Photography Award is jointly organized by ZEISS and the World Photography Organisation.


Participants are required to submit a series of five to ten photographs, including a description of the images, online. The submission period begins on November 22, 2018 and ends on February 8, 2019.

You wish to submit your photos?


Rewarding the world’s leading image-makers

Winner of the ZEISS Photography Award receives:

  • A range of ZEISS camera lenses of their choice worth a total of €12,000 
  • €3,000 to cover travel costs for a photo project
  • Flights and accommodation to attend the Sony World Photography Awards night and the exhibition opening in London in April 2020
  • ZEISS will also invite the winner to their headquarters in Germany to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory and the chance to test out a variety of ZEISS lenses
  • The winner will also have the chance to collaborate directly with ZEISS and the World Photography Organisation for future projects

A selection of shortlisted series will also be on show at London’s Somerset House during the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition. Dates of exhibition to be announced early 2020.



Leading voices in the photography industry

The photo projects submitted to the 2020 ZEISS Photography Award are judged by a renowned panel composed of three international experts from the photography industry. Judges will be evaluating submissions on their technical expertise, visual storytelling and creativity. It is important each series entered sticks to the 2020 brief: Seeing Beyond – Discoveries.

Louise Fedotov Clements

Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival & Artistic Director, QUAD

Louise is the Artistic Director of QUAD, a centre for contemporary art, film and new technologies in Derby UK, and the Director of FORMAT International Photography Festival, which she founded in 2004.

An independent curator since 1998, she has initiated many commissions, publications, mass participation and exhibitions. A Guest Curator for numerous international exhibitions and festivals, including Dong Gang Photography Festival South Korea; Photoquai Biennale; Les Rencontres Arles, Discoveries; Venice Biennale; Photo Beijing; Lishui China. She has contributed to many publications as producer/writer and is on the Editorial Team of RVM Magazine Italy.

She is a regular juror, portfolio reviewer, speaker and award advisor throughout Europe, America & Asia.

Max Ferguson

Freelance Photo Editor

Max is the Photo Director of Port Magazine, the Editor of Splash & Grab Magazine and a regular photo editor at the FT Weekend Magazine.

He is a lecturer in photography at the London College of Communication and he also writes about photography and curates exhibitions.

Simon Lovermann

Founder & Artistic Director, Der Greif

Simon Lovermann is an artist, musician and cultural entrepreneur. He is the founder and artistic director of the internationally renowned organisation for contemporary photography Der Greif. Der Greif collaborates with and publishes the works of artists, curators and writers, including Broomberg & Chanarin, Alessia Glaviano and Carrie Mae Weems. The organization organizes events and exhibitions with renowned institutions such as the Aperture Foundation, Unseen and Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Simon is also co-founder and CSO at Picter, a software company providing tools for the creative industries. Picter contests is the industry standard for the world’s most renowned image-based contests. Picter Workspace is the images-first team collaboration tool built for the creative industries.

Key dates

All you need to know

  • 15 October 2019, 11am CET: Competition open for submission
  • 4 February 2020, 2pm CET: Competition closed for submissions
  • 31 March 2020: Shortlist published and Winner announced
  • 16 April 2020: Award ceremony and gala dinner London
  • 17 April to 4 May 2020: The winning photo series and selected photos from the shortlist exhibited at Somerset House in London


"I'm incredibly grateful for the ZEISS Photography Award because it provided me an opportunity to share the stories of my subjects with a global audience. Thanks to the award, my project was picked up by international outlets, and it really allowed me to share the photos with the world. I couldn't ask for anything more, particularly because my project features people who are often overlooked."

Rory Doyle, winner of the 2019 ZEISS Photography Award
Rory Doyle, United States, 2019 ZEISS Photography Award © Rory Doyle, United States, 2019 ZEISS Photography Award

"After winning the ZEISS Photography Award, I got a lot of requests from international magazines, also the big magazines. There was a lot of international attention, all of a sudden. This award really stimulates you to do what you do, to continue working."

Nick Hannes, Winner ZEISS Photography Award 2018
Nick Hannes, Belgium, 2018 ZEISS Photography Award © Nick Hannes, Belgium, 2018 ZEISS Photography Award

"Due to photo editors having seen my work through the news of winning the ZEISS Photography Award, my personal documentary work has since gone on to be printed in magazines and newspaper around the world. Winning the award helped secure more clients but, more importantly, my self-confidence as a photographer has certainly grown since the win."

Kevin Faingnaert, Winner ZEISS Photography Award 2017
Kevin Faingnaert, Belgium, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award © Kevin Faingnaert, Belgium, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

"The ZEISS Photography Award was a great opportunity for me because it opened up windows to exposure of my own work where I alone would have never gotten by myself."

Tamina-Florentine Zuch, Winner ZEISS Photography Award 2016
Tamina-Florentine Zuch, Germany, 2016 ZEISS Photography Award © Tamina-Florentine Zuch, Germany, 2016 ZEISS Photography Award