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The mission of Pictures of the Year International is to recognize excellence in documentary photography and photojournalism, within still photography, motion photojournalism (videography) and visual editing in both print and online formats. "Show truth with a camera," remains the guiding principle as articulated by POY founder Cliff Edom in 1943.
Pictures of the Year International sets the following criteria for the context of images as well as digital post-production image corrections. All photographers, editors or contest coordinators submitting entries are required to accept these standards for the Spirit of the Competition with an electronic signature.
POY competition entry standards:
- Photojournalism should reflect the human experience, capture the moment and report the news events and social issues with respect for the integrity of the scene and the intent of the moment.
- Photographs must be true representations of the scene and cannot be posed, set up or staged by the photographer. Portrait categories are the only exceptions.
- POY will request the original RAW or JPG image files from a random selection of 20 percent of the photographs voted to final places by the jury, plus any images that the jury members request. POY will examine and verify each of these selected files for authenticity. This verification process will take place at the conclusion of judging and before the official results are announced. Any photographs that do not meet these standards will be disqualified.
- The content of a photographic scene 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.
- POY accepts two photographic modes: color and black & white.
- Color images should replicate what the human eye experiences. Flagrantly desaturation, over saturation, or production effects that artificially impose on the integrity of the scene with excessive tonal aberrations, textures, vignetting, or other artistic manipulations will be disqualified.
- Black & white images should be bi-tonal and display a full grayscale range of 256 intensities from deep-shadow blacks to highlight whites. Black & white image files that artificially impose a color shift, such as sepia or cyan tones, will be disqualified.
- Photos from mobile-device cameras are eligible. However, the use of software capture filters (Hipstamatic, CameraBag, Instagram) that artificially impose on the integrity of the scene with excessive tonal aberrations, textures, vignetting, or other artistic manipulations will be disqualified.
- Digital manufactured photo illustrations, double exposures, in-camera multiple exposures, added masks, borders, backgrounds, text, handwritten notes, or other artistic effects are all prohibited.
- Diptychs, triptychs are not eligible.
- Film edges will be allowed if the original photograph was shot on film (negative or transparency) or Polaroid and the border is the true nature of the medium.
- POY reviews every still photograph entry in advance of judging. POY will contact photographers whose images seem to conflict with these standards, and provide them with the opportunity to resubmit the photograph before judging begins. Once judging begins on Feb. 8, jury members have the discretion to disqualify entries that they feel over manipulate the image or exploit the process.
- Images submitted into single-photo categories cannot be copies, scans, or a photograph of other photographs or documents. A photograph of a photograph can serve as a detail photo as part of a larger photo story or extended project, but several of these may not comprise a majority of the story.
- Each photograph must include a caption embedded in the .jpg file's IPTC metadata description field that meets journalistic standards for accuracy and ready-for-publication requirements. Photographs with captions that are inaccurate or falsely represent the scene or subject will be disqualified. Photographs without captions will be disqualified.
- Photographs entered must have been taken or published for the first time, either in print or online, between Jan. 1, and Dec. 31, 2018.
The goal of POY is to review and honor the very best work from this past year — 2018.
Please respect the Spirit of the Competition.