(Updated for 2024)

First off, what constitutes “Storm Photography”?

Before we get into the rules, we know the definition of “storm photography” is probably going to be different for everyone. Photography is subjective already – art is subjective – so we realize a standard definition for this is likely impossible. But we understand the photographs that get submitted will vary from things like a light rain shower with some sunset colors to a full blown tornado destroying a cornfield.

A storm is defined as “a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, or lightning”. Our judges will be looking for photos that fall into that broad definition. Dramatic, beautiful images that capture the power of storms. But also stunning scenes, fantastic compositions, and unique moments. A haunting rainbow could be just as powerful an image of a tornado a few feet away from the photographer. Bottom line is that “storm photography” will be determined based on the opinion and expertise of our judges.

Who Can Enter

The contest is open to any professional or amateur photographer who personally photographed the images they are submitting, have full copyrights, and the image was taken in the past year (2023). By entering your image into this contest, you are confirming that it belongs to you and does not violate any laws where you might reside.

Who Can’t Enter

Those who judge the competition, the owners of this site and the owners/judges’ family members are ineligible to enter.

Entry Period and Important Dates

The time in which photos can be submitted will be from February 1st, 10:00AM ET, 2024 to February 29th, 11:59pm ET 2024. Winners will be announced on March 27th, 2024.


Feb 1st – Contest Opened

Feb 29th – Contest Closes

March 14th – Video Critique for Selections Review Posted

March 21st – Video Critique for Finalists Review Posted

March 28th – Live YouTube Award Show!

How to Enter the Contest

You can only submit your photos for entry through our Enter Contest page. The submission process will come with a fee of $10 for one image submitted to our “Single Image” categories (currently Storm Photo of the Year, Tornado Photo of the Year), and $5 for any additional photos submitted to those categories. The fee will be $25 for our “Multiple Image” categories (currently Storm Photographer of the Year). You can enter as many categories as you’d like, but you can only submit one entry for Storm Photographer of the Year.

Photo Requirements and Restrictions

All submitted photos will be required to follow these guidelines and rules:

  • Any photo you submit must have been taken in the previous year (2023).
  • Each submitted photo must include date, location, and a short caption. It also must be in JPG format.
  • Every submission should include social media channels we can link, mainly Instagram and Twitter. You can add this during checkout.
  • Submitting for the Photographer of the Year award will require 10 photographs to have all been taken on at LEAST SEVEN DIFFERENT DATES. This is a change from our first contest…meaning you can have more than one photo taken on the same day, but seven of your ten submitted must at least be taken on different dates.
  • If you are a Finalist, you MUST produce the corresponding RAW file(s) to the judges within 24 hours of it being requested. We may also request the high resolution JPG(s) for a more detailed critique.
  • If you CANNOT provide a RAW file, IE. you took the photo in JPG only, you must provide overwhelming proof that nothing was majorly manipulated or changed. Video proof, other photos showing the original scene would be acceptable. Judges will determine if it’s enough evidence.
  • At this time, we will not be allowing composites, digital art or stacks. Panoramas are okay and Focus STACKING is okay. We are not allowing “lightning stacks” at this time.
  • Photos need to be at least 2000 pixels wide for landscape orientation and 2000 pixels tall for portrait orientation.
  • All submitted photos should as faithfully as possible represent the scene captured. We understand and expect all the standard RAW file editing that goes into making a beautiful photograph, and while some removal of small objects, power lines, etc is to be expected, anything that vastly affects the original scene will be in jeopardy of being rejected if the original RAW file is too manipulated from the original. This will be solely up to what the judges deem acceptable.
  • Any photo submitted must not violate any licensing terms or exclusive rights that the photographer has made with other parties. An entry into The Storm Photo Contest confirms you have the legal right to submit and we will not be held responsible for any violations in this matter.

Winning and Judging Criteria

The following guidelines lay out exactly how winners will be selected.

  • All submitted photos will be sorted into their specific award categories. All images will be reviewed by judges and Selections will be made for potential Shortlist inclusion.
  • The Selections will then be judged and narrowed down to the Shortlist: 30 images for the Single Image categories and 15 portfolio groups for Photographer of the Year. This process will happen internally by the judges.
  • The Shortlist Review will be conducted by the judges on video with each image critiqued and discussed. Videos will be posted to our page and YouTube channels.
  • Judges will vote offline on each of the Shortlisted images and determine the Top 10/6 Finalists in each category.
  • Finalists will be notified via email and RAW files/high res JPGs will be requested. Finalists have 48 hours to respond.
  • Any Finalist who does not respond, or has no RAW file to provide, will be replaced by the next image in the judging order.
  • The Finalist review will be conducted on video with the judges critiquing each image once again, with more detailed discussion on strengths and weaknesses. This video will be posted to our page and YouTube channels.
  • The judge will vote offline to determine the Top 3 in each category.
  • Winners will be announced live on Zoom, and will be invited to participate on the Zoom call to discuss the winning images with our judges. Winners will also be notified via email and a press release will go to our website and social media channels!

Judging any kind of image or art is always going to be subjective. All of our judges are professional photographers and specialize in storm and/or landscape imagery, and will be looking for high quality work to be deemed the winner in each category. Here are some of the criteria our judges will be using when reviewing/critiquing images:

  • Color correction/white balance
  • Sharpness/focus
  • Composition
  • Overall editing quality
  • Uniqueness of the image or subject
  • Emotion, drama and power
  • For the Photographer of the Year award, variety will also be a factor in the consideration


The prizes for each award will be as follows:

How Your Images Will Be Used

We want our contest to be different. Most of the big, commercial contests out there make you sign your life away and have big terms of usage agreements that essentially give them the rights to use your image commercially for any means they want. We want Storm Photos of the Year to be a safe space for photographers to enter their work and know it will never be used for anything other than promotion of the artist and the contest.

How your images will be used:

  • Any image posted online will be Watermarked with the Storm Photo of the Year logo in the bottom corner and artist name will be credited wherever possible.
  • Images will be shared on our Instagram channel (@StormPhotoContest), Twitter/X (@TheStormys), Facebook (@StormPhotosOfTheYear) and our blog/website/YouTube (The critiques) to help promote the contest and the photographer.
  • Any image we post on social media, such as Instagram or Twitter, will tag/mention the photographer so long as they provided us usernames and also have accounts there. If you provide another link to your work, like an online gallery, website, YouTube, etc., we will endeavor to link to those instead where we can.
  • The goal of the contest is to not only provide prizes and recognition to the photographer, but also as much publicity as we can for everyone. Therefore the contest results and images may be shared by media outlets when winners are announced and we will ensure that any publications that do write about the contest use only the watermarked images with corresponding artist credit alongside. Since it is a public contest, sharing the results of it online by media would be considered fair use.

Lawyer Stuff

While want to remain different from other contests and focus solely on showcasing the best storm photography out there, we are still a company and need to protect ourselves. Therefore here are things lawyers think are important:

Winners are responsible for all taxes from prizes. Monetary prizes over $600 will be reported via 1099 in the United States.

Storm Photos of the Year = The Contest

Submissions amount to a perpetual non-limited license for The Contest to use photos as exemplars of entries and winners, to promote the contest, but not for other commercial usage (I.E. we wont sell your photos). Any commercial opportunities that arise from this contest about the images posted will be passed on to the photographer.

In the unlikely scenario that the operation of The Contest is impaired or unable to continue, The Contest will choose to either pause until it can resume at a later time or award prizes based on the eligible entries up until the time of impairment. The Contest reserves the right to disqualify or seek damages from any individual that tampers with The Contest, violates the Official Rules or acts in an unsportsmanlike manner.

By submitting and participating in The Contest, the entrants agree to release and hold harmless The Contest, associated judges and sponsors from any liability, claims of loss or damages that arise from being part of The Contest, including but not limited to: human interventions; copyright violation out of our control; mistakes in the administering of the contest; use or misuse of any photo, including claims based on copyright, publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy.

The Contest, judges and sponsors are not responsible if any prize cannot be awarded due to cancellations, delays, or interruptions due to acts of god, acts of war, natural disasters, pandemics, weather or terrorism.

Entrants waive the right to claim any attorneys’ fees and any damages or losses whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, incidental, direct, or indirect damages.

All entrants become part of our mailing list automatically. Communication through the email list will be solely about the contest itself, important dates, sponsor information and announcements. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

Any information you submit as part of The Contest is provided to and will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Except where prohibited, you consent to The Contest’s use of your name in any list of winners and/or for promotional purposes in any media without further payment or consideration.

All entrants agree that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, The Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in the State of Arizona.