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2021 Photography Awards

Call for entries


Eligibility Period: January 2020 – February 2021

Great work needs to be recognized

Now, more than ever before, getting business is all about credibility – what work you've already done, and who's given it the nod. Applied Arts Awards have been a reliable source for showcasing the best of the best for 30 years. A nod from one of our juries – always different, always independent – gives you bragging rights, exposure, more confidence, and, above all, a portfolio showpiece.

We remain committed to celebrating all the great work out there. So show us – and the creative world – what you've poured your heart and soul into over the past year.

This is an international competition open to all forms of commissioned, published, unpublished, and personal Illustration work, including these and many more categories:

  • Advertising Photography
  • Cinematography
  • Corporate Photography
  • Editorial Photography
  • Environmental/Spaces Photography
  • Event/Experiential Photography
  • Food Photography
  • Packaging Photography
  • Promotional Photography
  • Sports Photography

The competition also includes categories for newly minted professionals and Canadians working in smaller communities or smaller businesses. Please see eligibility section for details.

Be sure to review the Call for Entry kit and 2021 Categories kit for important information and tips on entering.

2021 Call for Entry Kit 2021 Photography Awards Categories Kit

2021 Photography Awards Jury

It's important that our Photography & Illustration Awards are judged by award-winning designers and art directors. After all, the quality of their work is highly dependent on the quality of the images they choose. So who better to judge award-worthy images, than a cross-section of some of the best – and most highly awarded – creatives from across Canada and beyond. A new jury is chosen each year for each of our competitions. Here is this year's chosen jury for Photography & Illustration:

Clare Chow
Independent Graphic Designer
Toronto, ON

Clare is an independent designer that has collaborated at agencies such as lg2, Bruce Mau Design, Huge, Rethink, Puncture and Jacknife. Her 14-year career spans print, digital, branding and editorial across business and consumer audiences. A proud immigrant – born in Hong Kong, raised in Toronto – Clare brings a unique perspective to the industry with her passion for travel, food, and culture.

Marcella Coad
Creative Director
Seattle, WA

Marcella is a Creative Director at Amazon leading global, multi-channel campaigns for Alexa, Amazon Music, Fire TV, and the Amazon Retail Brand. As a visual storyteller, Marcella loves all mediums that capture experiences and emotions in a compelling way – always looking to push conceptual creative work. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, her career has spanned across Canadian agencies from Ogilvy, TAXI, john st., Sid Lee, and Anomaly to the US at RPA, R/GA, and now in-house at Amazon.

Phil Copithorne
Partner, Creative Director
C&B Advertising
Calgary, AB

Phil, with long-time partner Leigh Blakely, opened C&B Advertising in 2013. At a time when the word 'advertising' was off trend, C&B was built on the classic ideal that smart advertising can both sell product AND be creatively rewarding. A steadfast approach in delivering long-term creative strategies, emotive storytelling, and beautiful execution has helped make C&B Advertising one of western Canada's notable creative agencies. Phil's work has helped create enduring brands, as well as well-loved and awarded campaigns for some of western Canada's most prominent destinations and organizations.

Francis Desrosiers
Co-Founder, Creative Director
Harrison Fun
Montreal, QC

Francis is an art director and multidisciplinary graphic designer. He worked between Montreal and Paris for over 15 years for agencies including bleublancrouge, Circo de Bakuza, Tux and GSM Project. In 2016, he co-founded Studio Harrison Fun with Lisa Arduini, where he transposes his artistic vision through branding, packaging, retail design, and creating events, installations and activations for brands like Yves Saint Laurent, L'Oréal Luxe, Cirque du Soleil, Quebecor, Kanuk, Université de Montréal, Cœur de Pirate, and Les films Sévilles. His notable awards include his interactive installation for Cœur de Pirate, his multi-award-winning rebrand for production house Les Enfants, and design of magazine LSTW no3, which won the prestigious Issue Grand Prix at the 2019 National Magazine Awards, and a 2019 Prix Grafika.

Sarah Foelske
Artist & Illustrator
Make Nice Design
Los Angeles, CA

Sarah started her career in New York in 1999 as a graphic designer at Wieden+Kennedy. She spent time in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles working for notable brands and agencies including M•A•C Cosmetics, The Gap, Nike, Morgans Hotel Group, Laird + Partners, Sid Lee, The Drake Hotel, and Bruce Mau Design. Sarah is now an artist and illustrator primarily working with paper and photography from her studio Make Nice Design in LA.

Kristian Hay
Co-Founder & Creative Director
Vancouver, BC

Kristian is one of the co-founders and the creative director at award-winning boutique design studio ZAK. Carefully guiding the visual process across every touchpoint of an identity, he ensures that everything created is connected to the overall brand strategy established at the start of a project. As with the other partners at ZAK, Kristian is also in the weeds every day working closely with clients and bringing their brands to life. Whether a project is big or small, you're sure to find his prints on everything. Much of his work is infused with imagery, and his versatility as a designer means he's as comfortable designing websites as he is developing packaging design and coordinating print runs.

Jason Hill
Creative Director
St. John's, NL

Jason joined Target in 2018 as CD, and he has steered the agency to its best awards year ever, and Strategy Small Agency of The Year. He oversees creative on all accounts, including much loved and awarded Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism. Jason began his career in a few small – but award-winning – boutique agencies in the UK, then moved to TBWA. In 2002 he relocated to Canada where he worked as an AD and ACD at some of the best Toronto agencies, including TAXI, Zig and CPB. During his career, Jason has produced many award-winning campaigns for brands like IKEA, Viagra, Virgin, AXE, Crime Stoppers and Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism, and has been awarded globally in many shows including Cannes and The One Show.

Gary Holme
Director of Art & Content
Mass Minority
Toronto, ON

Gary grew up in Detroit, moved to Canada in 1990, and built his advertising career in Toronto. He has been an Art Director, a CD, and an ECD for some of the best agencies in the world, including Chiat/Day, Sapient Nitro, FCB, Publicis, Y&R, and J. Walter Thompson. He is also an accomplished artist and published illustrator and has spent his career weaving creativity with commercial success on a myriad of award-winning brands and projects. He is currently Director of Art & Content at Mass Minority, writing, producing and directing videos and content for businesses of all sizes across many platforms and channels. Gary Holme has been called many things – artist, painter, cartoonist, illustrator, writer, art director, creative director and creative provocateur.

Jinah Lee
Senior Art Director (freelance)
Toronto, ON

A multi-hyphenate senior creative, Jinah's wide ranging skill set has taken her career across a range of disciplines including creative direction, branding, UI, art direction, graphic design, and fashion. She spearheaded award-winning campaigns for prestigious brands including BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Nike before moving to New York to focus on fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and Sephora. She is currently at BBDO Toronto bringing her conceptual thinking and beautiful design back to Canada.

Joanne Lefebvre
President and CEO
Montreal, QC

While her first love was modern dance, Joanne pursued studies in art, marketing, and management. After her degree in Business Management from UQAM, and extensive experience, she co-founded Paprika in 1991. Since then, the agency has been recognized internationally, and Joanne has sat on national and international juries including the ADC Awards and The One Show. Joanne is also active in business development, oversees project management for national and international campaigns, and acts as strategic consultant for brand and platform development. Her unique ability to balance strategy and creativity ensures her talented design team are always challenged, inspired, and encouraged to push the boundaries of creativity. For this reason, Joanne was named an Infopresse 2017 Person of the Year. Photo by Geneviève Caron.

Natalie Mathers
Associate Creative Director
john st.
Toronto, ON

Natalie is an Associate Creative Director and Art Director at john st., with 10 years of experience in the industry, including stints at Leo Burnett, Cossette, Anomaly, and others. She's created both award-winning and buzz-making work. She also makes art out of trash and has written a song or two. She enjoys work that feels thoughtful, aesthetically pleasing, and clever. Talk to her about short films, building community, cool bands, art, and design.

Danielle Murrell Cox
Designer, Author & Illustrator
Founder, DMCMTL
Montreal, QC

Danielle is a minimalistic graphic designer from Canada. She graduated from the Graphic Design Program at Dawson College in 2011. In addition to her work as a graphic designer, she is an illustrator and the toy designer of the plush toys 'Zuri & Dre'. Danielle is best known for her self-published colouring books Black Queens and Black Kings, which went viral on social media and gave her the opportunity to have a segment on NowThis HER, amongst many other platforms. She is also the illustrator and designer for the Big Dreamers activity book series. Danielle's hope is that all girls will appreciate their unique style and tresses, along with their beautiful smiles. Check out more of her story on her site.

Jordan Poirier
Creative Director
Concrete Design
Toronto, ON

As Creative Director at Concrete, Jordan directs all aspects of the branding process, from strategy through to creative execution. In his over 15 years at Concrete he has lead branding projects for clients from a wide range of sectors such as Norco, Pizza Nova, Woodbine, Red Earth, Azure Magazine, and Cougar in addition to rebranding iconic Canadian retailers Joe Fresh and MEC. His work has won numerous design awards throughout North America and Europe.

Howard Poon
VP, Design
DDB Canada
Edmonton, AB

Howard has a reputation for frank feedback and has a low tolerance for complexity. He feeds his curiosity with the Sunday New York Times and reading non-fiction. He's obsessed with Greg McKeown's Essentialism. At DDB, Howard collaborates with a cross-disciplinary team of strategists, creatives and designers to use insight-driven design to build exceptional brands. His team's work has appeared in Applied Arts and Communication Arts, and has been awarded internationally, nationally and regionally. DDB was also Strategy Magazine's 2019 Bronze Design Agency of the year. Passionate about nurturing young talent, Howard was an advisor on MacEwan University's Bachelor of Design Advisory Committee and is a design management sessional instructor at the University of Alberta's Visual Communication Design program for the past four years.

Cédric Rossel
Co-Founder & Art Director
Lausanne, CHE

Cédric is the Co-Founder and an Art Director of WePlayDesign, an award-winning Swiss-based creative design studio. From art direction to type design, visual identity to motion design, interactive design to generative design WePlayDesign's work covers all areas of creativity. The studio has a keen interest in the creative process and its design approach is playful and highly visual. The studio is focused on works that promote experimentation and encourages innovative projects that extend to the entire range of its design capabilities. WePlayDesign's work is frequently exhibited, published, and awarded in many countries around the world. Cédric also teaches Art Direction and Design.

Christina Yu
Creative Director
Toronto, ON

Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 thought leaders, Christina's most recent position was Managing Partner, CD at Rethink Canada. She helped lead Rethink to Agency of the Year and Design Agency of the Year for both 2019 and 2020, a feat not accomplished by any other agency. Prior to Rethink, Christina led creative at Red Urban Canada, an agency she helped form in 2010. While there, Volkswagen Canada saw five years of sales records and a few Cannes Lions, and Subaru Canada reached record-breaking sales as well. Before that, Christina was VP, CD at Lowe Roche, winning Canadian Agency of the Year. Her work has been awarded at every major award show, including Cannes, Clios, and The One Show. She's also been on the prestigious 30 Under 30 list, been named one of Canada's 'Marketing Icons in the Making', has been a speaker at industry events, and taught at OCADU.

Judging Process

All work is entered and judged digitally. There are no hard copies. Therefore, please read our RECOMMENDED BEST PRACTICES, in the 2021 Categories Kit to ensure you submit your work properly for maximum impact.

The judges are divided into groups, with each viewing a different and random group of entries. Each judge reviews and scores entries separately. Judges do not confer or discuss their work, and there is only one round of judging.

Entries are given one total score, based on three criteria only:

  1. Creative merit
  2. Technical excellence
  3. Suitability for end use in the category into which it is entered.

NOTE: Young Blood, Community and COVID-19 Response entries are judged with the level of experience and/or available resources taken into consideration.


Open internationally to all forms of commissioned, published, unpublished and personal work from professionals and enthusiasts created between January 2020 and February 2021 (but not entries that have been submitted into last year's competition). Only digital entries are accepted for this competition.

Young Blood
For professionals that have graduated within the last 3 years.

Exclusively for Canadian artists and firms working in smaller communities or with smaller businesses or budgets, to help them get the recognition they deserve.

To be eligible to enter Community categories, you must be Canadian and meet one of the following criteria:

There is a stand-alone awards competition for students studying in a creative arts program at the post-secondary or high school level. Work from any year of study is eligible and may be entered up to one year after graduation. Students are only eligible to enter the Student Awards competition.

Categories & Entry Fees

Entry fees vary per sub-grouping and category. Please be sure to download the 2021 Photography & Illustration Categories Kit for detailed pricing.

Advertising Photography
Calendar Photography
Catalogue Photography
Conceptual Photography
Corporate Photography
Editorial Photography
Fashion & Beauty Photography
Food Photography
Gallery Photography
Lifestyle Photography
Nature Photography
Packaging Photography
Photo Manipulation
Photojournalism Photography
Portrait Photography
Promotional Photography
Pro Bono/PSA/Charity Photography
Still Life Photography
Travel Photography
Unpublished/Personal Photography

MOTION – SHORT: $100 / LONG: $115

Entries can be from any application from the groupings of categories above.

Entry Material Guidelines

All entries are submitted digitally only. Hi-res, final files are to be submitted for judging. These files will be used for publication, if selected as a winner.

Main Entry Files

Your Main Entry File(s) must clearly show the images/illustrations to be judged in hi-res format.


*Exceptions are noted in specific categories.

IMPORTANT NOTE RE MULTI-PAGE PDFS: Use a multi-page PDF to incorporate any additional images into the maximum number of files allowed (e.g. the image in context, inside pages from a book, or multiple views of 3-dimensional entries such as packaging).

Support Files

Support Files are for clarity to assist the judges. They are not for publication (except where noted) and do not count towards the file limitations noted above. Upload these to the "Entry Supporting Materials" sub-section of ENTRY MATERIALS on the entry form.

Please note these important required vs. optional Support Files for certain entries:

~ English translations for French (or other language) entries:  Include any important text (e.g. headlines, entry title) either as a Support File or within a multi-page PDF as your Main Entry File.

~ Images in context of the finished piece, for example the finished ad or self-promotion piece, etc. Upload as either a Support File or within a multi-page PDF as your Main Entry File.
~ Explanatory notes for the judges: Although not recommended (except where noted in a category), brief descriptions/explanations of up to 50 words may be added for clarity (or up to 10 seconds for video files) Include either as Support File or within your Main Entry File.
~ Case–studies: While not recommended (as outcomes are not a criteria for judges in scoring), case–studies can be added ONLY as a Support File and should be limited to max. 45 seconds. REMINDER: You must include the actual creative to be judged as your Main Entry File.

~ Entering URLs of the same creative as a Support File: (i.e. don't also submit a URL link, if you've already submitted the MP4 as your Main Entry File). However, available links to non-static creative are requested in the Winners Information section for publishing in the online Winners Gallery.

Acceptable File formats





Entries are judged online. Here's how to help the judges:

How To Enter

The Entry Form consists of five steps. You will have the option to save your progress during each step of the process.

Create your 'MY ENTRIES' Account.

This is your Applied Arts Awards account for all Awards competitions. Once logged: in personal account information can be updated, a new entry can be started, copied from an existing one, or edited; and you can pay for all or some entries.

Bookmark for easy access to your account later.

NOTE: If you've entered the Applied Arts Awards previously, please use the email address associated with your account.

All entrants must complete an online entry form in My Entries, regardless of payment method, to be eligible for entry.

Step 1: entry information

Select from one of the Awards competitions, choose a category and add your entry title.

Step 2: Entry Materials

Entry format: All entries are to be submitted digitally only. See ENTRY MATERIAL GUIDELINES section above for detailed specifications.

Step 3: Winners' Information

Everything entered in this section is for publication only and is not visible to the judges. Please review the information carefully. There will only be 48 hours to edit this information after the Winners have been notified.

The 'Winner' field is the primary company or individual you want to be credited on the piece (i.e. company name, photographer, illustrator, Young Blood, etc.).

NOTE: In the instance that a team (e.g. AD & writer) worked together (typically for the Young Blood or Student categories), enter only the first individual of the team as in the "Winner" field. The other team member(s) should be added in the CREATIVE CREDITS section. (See Step 4: CREATIVE CREDITS for further explanation on how to enter additional names so that they are properly credited as "Winners").

Optional fields: Phone, email, web address, social handles, and the URL to the winning entry (typically, for motion entries). If these are entered, they will be published beside your winning work.

NOTE: We recommend including the URL as, due to file sizes, we don't upload the MP4 files directly for viewing in the Winners Gallery. They are only used for judging.

Description of Entry: For the purpose of providing a brief creative summary of the project to be published beside your winning entry. The description is limited to a maximum of 500 characters (includes spaces).

NOTE: "Descriptions of Entry" are for publication use only and are not shown to the judges. If additional clarity is needed for the judges, a description/explanation may be added to either your Main Entry file(s) or as a Support File. Please limit it to 50 words or a max 10-second intro for video/broadcast.

Step 4: Creative Credits

Credits are a summary of the individuals or companies that have worked on the project.

A credit can be designated with an individuals name or an organization's. A credit role is a job function (e.g. creative director, or production house). Multiple names can be assigned to one credit role (i.e. if you have two creative directors, they are counted as only one credit role).

A maximum of 6 creative credit roles will be published in the Annual, however, any/all creative credits you entered will appear in the online Winners Gallery.


Step 5: Certificate information

Winners will receive one certificate for each winning entry. Complete the winning company/individual and/or client you wish to appear on the certificate. The entry title and the category the project won in will automatically be included on the certificate. You will have the opportunity to order additional certificates once winners have been notified.

Next: Finalizing Your Entry
After Step 5, the entry form is complete. Press the 'Save' button to return to 'My Entries' dashboard to submit a new entry, copy an existing entry to a new category, or submit payment.

IMPORTANT: A submitted entry is not final and entered in the competition until it's paid for. Entries may be edited until paid for. Once payment has been processed, it is final.

Payment & Refunds

Entry fees vary. Check the categories kit for entry fees. Some or all of the entries can be paid for at any given time – just select which entries to pay. Once an entry is paid it is officially in the competition and cannot be modified.

Payments can be made by Visa, MasterCard or American Express (AmEx is for Canadian payments only at this time), or PayPal. For US and international entry fees are payable in US funds.

We only accept cheque, or direct deposit in special circumstances. These cases must be pre-approved. Contact with your request.

If you are entering a piece as both a Single and as part of a Series, ensure there are two separate entries on My Entries - one for the Series and one for the Single.

Keep a record of your submissions.


All entrants will be notified by late-March 2021 via email. At that time, you will have only 48 hours to correct or finalize creative credits and descriptions.

To ensure you don't miss the results notifications, add to your address book.

What Winners receive


  • Order additional certificates for your creative team, client, etc. with an option to order a plaque-mounted certificate
  • Order additional copies of the Awards Annual at a discounted price
  • Order a personalized, engraved Awards trophy. This attractive and original lucite AACE cube is 3.5x3.5x3.5 square inches

*Additional fees apply

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility FAQ

Can students enter? No. Students may enter the Student Competition. Go here for categories, eligibility and deadlines for the Student Awards competition.

Can I enter something I entered last year? Not in the same competition, but if it meets the eligibility period for a different competition, then yes.

Can I enter something in multiple Awards competitions? Yes. Each competition has different eligibility periods, please check each competition for eligibility requirements.

Judging FAQ

Will the judges see my descriptions during the judging? Judges do not see the creative descriptions you have entered. These are only for publishing beside your entry if chosen as a winner. If you feel judges need an explanatory note, you may include a brief description as a Support File (no more than 50 words or 10 seconds for broadcast/video).

Categories FAQ

Can I enter a piece in multiple categories? Yes. In your account on the My Entries home page, click "Copy" on any entry you've created. Be sure to change the discipline and/or entry category to the new one you want to submit to.

Which category does my entry belong in? Often the best way to understand a category is to see previous work that won in that category. Check our online Winners Gallery for examples. If you still have questions regarding our categories or require assistance in selecting the appropriate category, contact

NOTE: Applied Arts reserves the right to move an entry to another category if we feel it unsuitable or incorrectly categorized.

What is a single, series, and campaign? A single means 1 piece. Series means you are submitting more than 1 piece of the same project to a maximum of 3 (5 pieces for Photography & Illustration competitions). A campaign is up to 9 pieces (6 pieces for the Student competition). If an entry contains more than the specified images, we will either contact you to split the submission into multiple entries, or choose which ones will be judged, so it's best to stick to the indicated number of pieces specified.

What is the Young Blood category? Young Blood is a series of categories open only to entrants who have been out of school up to a certain number of years (3 for Photography and Illustration, and 5 for Design and Advertising). As with all categories, they are judged on creative excellence, technical merit and suitability for end use, but the jury also takes into account the level of professional experience. You will be required to specify the name of the Young Blood entrant to qualify.

What is the Community category? The Community Awards was our newest Awards program, launched in 2017, to help Canadian artists and firms working in smaller communities or with smaller budgets or local clients get the recognition they deserve. In 2019, Community Awards categories were rolled into each of the four competitions (Photography, Illustration, Design and Advertising) for added exposure.

Entry Material FAQ

At what specs do I need to submit my entry? Refer to ENTRY MATERIAL GUIDELINES section for specifications.

Can I submit a hard copy or disk? No. Only digital uploads are accepted.

The program crashed. Did I lose everything? No - you are saving your work as you go through each section of the entry form. If the program crashes as you are completing a certain section, it may not have saved that section.

The file I uploaded won't show me a preview. Why? You may not see the image preview if you haven't followed the specs outlined in ENTRY MATERIAL GUIDELINES. Check your file and re-upload. If you continue to experience difficulties, try clearing your browser history or contact

I uploaded the wrong file. Can I change it? Yes. You can resubmit images at any time until payment is made. Click the 'X' beside the appropriate file and re-upload your image.

NOTE: The thumbnail image may not correctly display your new image. If this happens close your browser and log back into My Entries for the changes to show. If you continue to experience difficulties, try clearing your browser history or contact

Rights FAQ

Do I need to get the rights of the subjects or material used from external sources in my entry? It is the responsibility of the entrant to ensure copyright is not infringed. Upon entry you must grant us the rights to reproduce the image or images for both our online and print publications, so you would most likely need to have these rights in place to protect yourself. Although you do not need to send us a copy of the release forms, we do suggest that you have them. Entrants who request we don't run their winning work because they don't have the rights will not be refunded for their entry. NOTE: Student work is often exempt from copyright rules.

What rights do I retain if my work is chosen? You retain all rights to your images.

My client has revoked the right for me to enter work I've won for. What do I do? We do not issue refunds in these cases, but please contact if you need the entry removed from the Winners' pool.

Payment FAQ

Can I submit more entries after paying? Yes. In My Entries, you will have the opportunity to submit additional entries even if others already entered have been paid. This will simply generate a new confirmation email when you complete your entries with payment.

I want to change something after I've paid. What do I do? Once an entry is paid, you cannot change the category, entry title, entry format, winners information, description of entry, or credits. A paid entry is final, so check carefully before proceeding to the payment field. If chosen as a winner, you will be given a small window of time add or edit information.

Can I get a refund? Entries are non-refundable; costs cover administration, processing and the judging of the entry. A submission of entry acknowledges acceptance of these rules.

My client has revoked the right for me to enter work I’ve already paid for. What do I do? We do not issue refunds, but contact if you need the entry removed from the judging or winners' pool.

I'm getting error messages when I try to pay. What do I do? If you entered your payment information incorrectly on your first attempt, any subsequent attempts would be declined, even if you change your payment type. Close your browser and log back into My Entries. You should now be able to proceed with payment. If you continue to experience difficulties, contact

Winners FAQ

If I win, what image will you use for reproduction? We will use the image(s) you submitted on entry. In the case of series, complete, campaign or motion, we select a sampling at our discretion from the images/files submitted.


Questions? If you've checked all of the above sections and cannot find the answer to your question, or if you are having difficulty entering, contact


Applied Arts reserves the right to amend these rules throughout the competition. Applied Arts assumes all entries are original and the property of the entrant, with all rights granted therein. Applied Arts reserves the rights to publish or exhibit entries for our print or electronic formats, or related promotions. Entries are non-refundable. Costs cover administration, processing and the judging of the entry. Entries may be moved to more suitable category, if Applied Arts deems the category chosen unsuitable. All descriptions and credits are subject to be edited for length, clarity and grammar in accordance with the Applied Arts editorial style guide. A submission of entry acknowledges acceptance of these rules.