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CREDIT: Robert K Hughes LRPS

Documentary Photographer of the Year 2021

Our popular competition opens for entries on 6 May and is now open to our international audience with Open, Student and Member categories

The Documentary Photographer of the Year (DPOTY) competition is organised by the Royal Photographic Society's Documentary Group. It runs every two years. The competition has been running since 2012 and provides an opportunity to showcase documentary work and storytelling. 

Anyone of any age can submit their images to DPOTY - this includes student, amateur and professional photographers and story-telling image-makers worldwide. There is no theme or topic, so the choice of subject matter is yours. There is also no limit on when the images were taken. Just show us your best work, that has not been submitted to DPOTY before. 

Entry is made online using our submission platform. After the closing date, the online selection is made and final judging will take place in September and October. Entrants remain anonymous throughout the selection process.

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CREDIT: Laura Pannack

Entry Overview


The Competition has three categories:

Open - open to anyone anywhere
Student - for anyone on a recognised full-time or part-time photography degree course (and those completing in 2020-21 academic year)
Member - for members of the RPS


RPS DPOTY 2021 Terms And Conditions Of Entry V1.3
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CREDIT: Edward Thompson

Key dates


Opening Date for Entries:
Thursday 6 May 2021

Closing Date for Entries:
Submissions closed on Thursday 5 August 2021 

Shortlisting and Judging: Shortlisting has been completed. We ave informed those shortslieted and those who were not successful. The judges are now selecting the Commended and Winners in each category. We hope to complete this by November.

Awards Event: 
will take place in December 2021 (venue TBC)

Exhibition: from early 2022 and a UK touring Exhibition throughout  2022 (four venues already confirmed, more later).

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CREDIT: Alexander Komenda

Awards and Prizes

All winners will be part of an Exhibition 

Open winner - a bursary, professional development support from Martin Parr Foundation and one-years free RPS membership

Student winner - a bursary, professional development support from leading photographer, Simon Roberts HonFRPS and one-years free RPS membership

RPS Member winner - a Fujifilm X100V camera (donated by Fujifilm) and one-years free RPS membership

Commended entries - one-years free RPS Membership and inclusion in Exhibition (as digital projection). Selected photographers will also have opportunities via our Engagement Talks and published in Decisive Moment magazine.

Shortlisted entries - there will be some opportunities for posting in social media, and on RPS Website.

Entry Guide and FAQs

Judges May2021 Copy

Our Judges

Our international panel of experts and judges includes:

Lekgetho Makola, CEO Javett Arts Centre, Pretoria

Roy Mehta, Photographer and Lecturer

Tanvi Mishra, Photo Editor, Writer and Creative Director, The Caravan, New Delhi

Mimi Mollica, Photographer and Director, Offspring PhotoMeet

Rosy Santella, picture editor, Internazionale, Rome

Marie Sumalla, international picture editor, Le Monde, Paris

Bindi Vora, Curatorial Projects Manager at Autograph, London

Learn more about our expert judges

Our Awards

The category winners will feature in a London and UK touring exhibition.

Open winner - a bursary, professional development support from the Martin Parr Foundation and one-years free RPS membership

Student winner - a bursary, professional development support from leading photographer, Simon Roberts HonFRPS and one-years free RPS membership

RPS Member winner - a Fujifilm X100V camera and one-years free RPS membership

All commended will receive one-years free RPS membership and an opportunity to take part in a UK touring exhibition (digital projection).  

Winners and commended photographers will also have opportunities for publication in the Decisive Moment and The RPS Journal and selected photographers will be invited to present at our Engagement Talk series. 

Congratulations to Our Shortlist

Our Shortlisted entrants in each of the categories:

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CREDIT: Swastik Pal

Shortlist - Open

Shortlist - Open Category

Aakriti Chandervanshi
Debsuddha Banerjee
Edward Thompson
Hari Katragadda
Laura Pannack
Doro Zinn
Mohammad  Rakibul Hasan
Swastik Pal
Taniya Sarkar
Prasiit Sthapit
Santosh Jana
Stefano Sbrulli
Yarin Trotta del Vecchio


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CREDIT: Francesco Andreoli

Shortlist - Student

Shortlist - Student Category

Aishwarya Arumbakkam
Francesco Andreoli
Hannah Norton
Jake Varker
Alexander Komenda
Natalie Durrant
Nico Froehlich
Nicole Mullan
Mina Boromand
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CREDIT: Gareth Jenkins

Shortlist - Member

Shortlist - Member Category

Angela Lam
Jason Ashwood
Bharat Patel
Bill Pilkington
Chris Jennings
Nicholas Mackey
David Collyer
Gareth Jenkins
Neil Johansson
Quentin Ball
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Fujifilm HOP
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DPOTY Related Events

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CREDIT: Mohammad Rakibul Hasan

DPOTY Related Events

Along with the competition there are Engagement Talks which are free and bookable via our Events page. So far, there have included:

Alys Tomlinson

Daniel Meadows

Mimi Mollica

Following our Awards Event there will be an Exhibition which will then tour the UK.

Browse DPOTY events
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CREDIT: Yarin Trotta del Vecchio

RPS Documentary Photographer of the Year 2021 - Awards


TBC - December 2021

Dates subject to confirmation.

Our RPS Documentary Photographer of the Year 2021 Awards will be held at RPS House, Bristol


Save the date

Sponsors and Friends

We are grateful for the support of Fujifilm and its commitment to the photo community.