Photo Contest

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

Deadline extended! Enter by April 12! »  

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. View the judging criteria.

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

  • The Natural World—Capture an image of nature, plants, animals, landscapes; geological, biological, or climatological features; or scientific processes and endeavors.
  • Travel—Snap a photo of locales, peoples, or activities in the United States and abroad that convey a sense of place.
  • Beautiful MundaneUsing creative composition, lighting, etc., turn an ordinary object or scene into something extraordinary.
  • Then & NowFind an archival photo of your subject and compare how it has changed over time. 
  • It’s a MoodCapture a mood or emotion in just one snap.
  • Optical Illusions & AbstractsCapture an image that distorts the senses to make you think you are looking at something entirely different.

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_2022_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 12, 2023


Judging will take place in April, with results posted May 2023.

View the judging criteria


Contact Julie Tatsukawa, julietat [at] (julietat[at]stanford[dot]edu)