So you unleashed your inner Ansel Adams this summer and now have albums of hundreds of vacation photos. Sharing them with friends and family on Facebook is great -- but wouldn't winning cameras, lenses, vacations, and cash be even better? Many photo contests are open to amateurs shooters, some with very specific themes and some more general. Check out these five opportunities to score big with your best vacation photos.National Geographic Photo Contest
The 2014 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest has already been decided and its awesome prizes awarded, but you can still submit photos this year for its sister competition, the National Geographic Photo Contest . Submit photos that best fit the contest's three categories of People, Places, and Nature for a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize -- which includes a trip to the company’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. in January 2015 to participate in the annual National Geographic Photography Seminar. First place winners in each category win $2,500. The deadline is October 31, and there's a $15 entry fee per photo.
World in Focus
Photo directors from AFAR and Travel+Leisure help judge this prestigious competition that awards separate grand prizes for professionals ($2,000) and for amateurs ($1,000). First place winners win a $100 B&H gift card to use on photographic equipment. Categories include Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, Spontaneous Moments, and Photo Essay. Its online gallery will give you an idea of what the judges are looking for. The per-image entry fee is $35 for professionals and $15 for amateurs. Deadline is October 2.
Eyes on Asia
Visit Asia recently? Eyes on Asia doesn’t have as much participation as some of the bigger-name contests here -- National Geographic ones receive more than 18,000 entries -- but you can still win cash (a minimum $1,000 for the overall winner) as well as your choice of other prizes, including an Australian outback experience, Maldives beach vacation, and mentoring sessions. Judges look for fresh images that are positive and uplifting and make you want to board a plane to Asian and Oceanic countries. The entry fee is $10 if you submit your images before September 30 and $15 if you submit before the deadline of December 31.
Wanderlust Photo of the Year
Sponsored by the popular UK travel magazine Wanderlust, this photo contest allows you to enter up to four compelling images total in any combination of its four categories: People, Wildlife, Landscape, and Travel Icons. Entry in the contest is free for a shot at scoring some great prizes: photo commissions to Senegal or Ghana; Nikon D5300 cameras; Nikon COOLPIX P600 cameras; one Nikon COOLPIX S9700; and cash prizes totaling nearly $5,000. In addition to last year’s winners, you’ll find photography tips online to improve next year’s photos and a link to the company’s photography publication, Take Better Travel Photos. The closing date for submissions is October 31.
Global Frame Travel Photography Contest
Unlike the photo contests listed above, the Global Frame Travel Photography Contest is open only to premium members of the Global Frame community, but at less than $5, that amount could work out to less than entering multiple photos in other contests. Plus, membership allows you to interact with a community of established travel photographers, ask questions, and create a travel photography blog. The photographer whose image receives the most votes will win a Canon EOS 100D. Second prize is a Timex Intelligent Quartz Tide Temp Compass. You have until October 31 to submit your entries before online voting within the community begins.