Skip to content Skip to navigation

2021 Student Photo Contest

Our contest presents an opportunity to show the world through a unique lens – that of the SGS student. 

Enter your photos by April 7, 2021 »  

Who can enter?

Any graduate or undergraduate student affiliated with an SGS program or center, including internship program participants, grant recipients, and students enrolled in degree programs.


What makes a photograph a winner? Technical quality, clarity, and composition are all important, but so too is a flair for the unexpected and the ability to capture a picture-perfect moment.

Photographs should be entered into one of the following six categories. 

  • The Natural World—Nature, landscapes; geological, biological, or climatological features (not including animals).
  • Animals—Photos of non-human living beings and creatures from around the world.
  • People—Individuals from all walks of life.
  • Travel—Locales, peoples, or activities in the United States and abroad that convey a sense of place.
  • Photojournalism—A photo (or a series of photos) that tell a story, or that capture a specific global event or perspective either at Stanford or abroad. The image should be accompanied by a caption that helps explain the story witnessed by the photographer.
  • Hometown Love—A photo from the time spent at home in quarantine during the coronavirus lockdown.

Submitted photographs must have been taken by the entrant within the three years prior to the submission date.  Please do not send photos that have been entered in a prior year's contest.

Category winners and a grand prize winner will be selected, in addition to honorable mentions. Category winners and honorable mentions will then be added to social media for a "Popular Vote," and the winner will receive an additional prize. Photos will be displayed in the SGS offices and may be used in printed materials and/or online. 

Cropped and edited photos are eligible in all categories.

For a photo in which a person is recognizable, you should secure a model release from the subject wherever possible. If the individual is a minor, you will need parental or guardian consent.  Releases are generally not required from people who are identifiable in a photograph of a street or public place provided that the photograph is reasonably related to the subject matter and the identifiable people are not the focus of the photograph. A sample release can be found here.

Click here to see last year's winning photographs.


Each category winner will receive a $50 award. Judges will select a grand prize winner who will be awarded a $200 stipend. We will also post the finalists on social media and offer an additional $50 prize for the “most liked” image. Honorable mentions will receive smaller prizes that change each year. Judges reserve the right to recategorize submitted photos, combine multiple categories, or choose not to award a prize in any given category.

How to enter

Submit one photograph per submission using the submission form. For each, include the following:

  1. Your full name, contact information, and degree major
  2. The SGS program you are affiliated with
  3. Category of entry
  4. Photo title
  5. Short description of your photo (what/who, your connection, when and why the photo was taken, etc.)
  6. The city, state, or country where the photo was taken
Multiple entries are permitted, but a new entry form will need to be completed for each submission. All digital files must be 10 megabytes or smaller, must be in .jpeg, or .jpg format, and must be at least 1,600 pixels wide (if a horizontal image) or 1,600 pixels tall (if a vertical image). Please submit the highest-quality image you have within these parameters.
Please name your entries in the following manner: name_title of entry_year entered_country.jpg
(i.e.  Jane Smith_Blossoms in Berlin_2021_Germany.jpg). Entries not following this naming convention may need to be resubmitted.

NOTE: By entering the contest, entrants grant Stanford University a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or subsequently developed, for any educational, promotional, publicity, exhibition, archival, scholarly, and all other standard purposes.  Any photograph reproduced will include credits as feasible.  Neither SGS nor Stanford University will be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

Entry deadline

Entries must be received by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, April 7, 2021


Judging will take place in April, with results posted early in May 2021.


Contact Julie Tatsukawa,, 650-724-8932