How TPOTY is judged

Travel Photographer of the Year is one of the world’s most stringently judged photography awards. Judging takes place over three rounds and all judging is completed ‘blind’ – the judges do not know the identity or nationality of any entrants.

The selected judging panel is international and made up of respected photographers, picture editors, editors/publishers, art buyers, curators and other users of the photographic image. Each year there is also a lay judge to represent the views of the wider public who enjoy photography. Sponsors are not included on the judging panel. None of the judges has a vested interest in the results, beyond using their considerable knowledge and experience of photography to choose the winning images on merit. There are usually between 12 and 17 judges on the TPOTY judging panel. You can watch a fun, short (and rather low-res!) video of the final round of judging for the 2012 awards here.

Judging Round One

Conducted online and from any print submissions that have been received – All entries are assessed on whether they meet the criteria and standard of photography required for the awards and the particular category in which they are entered. Images in the Young Travel Photographer of the Year section are judged less harshly on camera craft at this stage than the other categories. This round is judged by a small panel of judges.

Judging Round Two

Conducted online – All images/entries which have qualified from Round One are judged independently online by the entire judging panel. Print submissions are digitised by TPOTY so all the judges can view the images, regardless of where in the world they are based at the time. The best entries in each category are chosen based on the number of votes they receive from this panel. Top entries are shortlisted for the final (print only) judging round. The number of finalists varies from category to category and year to year and depends on the standard of entries received.

Final Judging Round

Conducted on prints which will have been requested from the shortlisted entrants. We are often asked why we judge the final round on prints rather than online. Often we see images which look great on a screen but are poor quality when printed. Similarly there are images which look ordinary online but fabulous when printed. Here TPOTY judge Colin Finlay explains why judging prints is important.

The final judging round is held over two days in London. Shortlisted images/entries are individually assessed by a judging panel of 7 to 10 judges. The judges take great care and time to consider all shortlisted entries and their choices are made following group discussion. In the unlikely event that any judge recognises an image or the photography of an individual entrant, they withdraw from judging and commenting on that particular entry. This is done to maintain anonymity during the whole judging process.

The TPOTY judges are people of the highest integrity and we would like to thank them for giving their time and experience to ensuring that the awards set and maintain the highest of standards. Both Travel Photographer of the Year and you, the entrant, benefit from their invaluable input.

Meet the Judges

The awards are judged by leading photographers and experts in the field, whose distinction and integrity add greatly to the prestige of the awards. Over the years the international jury for Travel Photographer of the Year has included photographers, editors, picture editors, picture buyers, stock photography and digital imaging experts from Germany, Italy, Kenya, New Zealand, Panama, South Africa, Sri Lanka, UK and USA.

We would like to thank our judges for giving so much of their time, expertise and impartiality to Travel Photographer of the Year, sustaining the quality and credibility of the awards.

The 2020 Judges were:

  • Daria Bonera (National Geographic Italy)
  • Keith Berr (advertising & charity project photographer)
  • Cheryl Brophy Chan (former Picture Editor – Corbis)
  • Chris Coe (Photographer & TPOTY Founder)
  • Richard Dunwoody (photographer & champion jockey)
  • Colin Finlay (Stock photography expert & collector)
  • Jeremy Hoare (photographer & TV cameraman)
  • Debbie Ireland (RPS Curator, author & former Director of Photography at AA Publishing)
  • Lawrence Jackson (former official photographer in President Obama’s White House)
  • Brigitte Lardinois (Head of Art & Photography, LCC & former Magnum curator)
  • Caroline Metcalfe (former Director of Photography at Condé Nast)
  • Michael Pritchard (Director of Education and Public Affairs at Royal Photographic Society)
  • Mary Robert (Director of Photography, American University, London)
  • Jerry Tavin (Stock photography expert)
  • Manfred Zollner (Editor-in-Chief of Fotomagazin, Germany)