Frequently Asked Questions About the Air & Space Photo Contest

When will the winners be announced?
The category winners, Grand Prize winner, and Readers’ Choice winner will be announced in our magazine in spring 2018.

How about the finalists?
The 40 finalists will be announced on our website in December 2017.

What is the Readers’ Choice winner?
Readers will select one winner from the 40 finalists by an online vote at our homepage. The Readers’ Choice winner will be announced in spring 2018 along with the Grand Prize and category winners.

What are the prizes?

Grand Prize Winner: $500 

Category Winners: $100 each

Who selects the winners?

Judging will be conducted by the editors of Air & Space/Smithsonian MagazineAir & Space/Smithsonian magazine will select 10 finalists per category, a winner for each category, and a Grand Prize winner from the 40 finalists. A Readers’ Choice winner will be selected from among the finalists based on public voting.

Will I be notified if I was NOT chosen as a finalist or winner?
No. Due to the large number of submissions, only the 40 finalists will be notified of their status by November 20, 2017. If you do not hear from Air & Space by November 20, then you are neither a finalist nor a winner.

How many photos can I enter into the contest?
You may enter no more than fifteen (15) photographs in each category with a total contest submission of sixty (60) photographs.

I share an e-mail address with another person. Can we both enter under the same e-mail address?
We accept one contestant per e-mail address. You can easily obtain a free e-mail address from a number of sites, including and

How do I submit my photograph?
You can submit your photograph, or a high-quality scan of your photograph, online at our photo contest page. We do not accept entries submitted through the mail.

What category should I select for my photograph?
Use your best judgment, but here are the guidelines we suggest you follow when selecting the category:

  • Astronomy: Stars, planets, telescopes—anything that showcases the majesty of the universe. 
  • Military: Airplanes currently or formerly used in military service.
  • Civilian: Photographs of any non-military aircraft or spacecraft, vintage or modern; everything from homebuilts to rockets to aerobatic craft to airliners.
  • People & Planes: Airplanes and the people who appreciate them, anyone from pilots to enthusiasts. 

Do you accept non-digital photographs?
Yes. We accept high-quality scanned images of non-digital photographs. We do not, however, accept hard copies of photographs.

Can I enter if I live outside the United States?
Yes, but photographs must be uploaded by 11:59 pm ET, November 1, 2017.

Can an old photo be entered?
Photographs that were taken before January 1, 2014 are not eligible.

Will negatives and slides, which will be requested of finalists, be returned?
All original negatives, slides and prints will be returned to finalists.

Do I need release forms for people in my photo?
If they are recognizable, and especially if they are children, you need a release form upon Air & Space’s request. A sample release is available for download here.

If you have a signed model release, please retain it in your personal files. If you are selected as a finalist, you will be asked to submit the release at that time.

Can I enter a photograph if I no longer have the negative?
If a photograph taken on film does not have a slide or negative, it cannot be entered into the contest unless you have a high resolution digital scan.

Can photographs be cropped?
Cropped photographs are eligible in all categories.

Can photographs be manipulated or enhanced?
Minor editing is permitted, but Air & Space reserves the right to disqualify photos that appear excessively altered.

What does it mean when you say photographs  may not be enhanced?
Contestants cannot construct photographs from pieces of other photographs. But minor adjustments, including spotting, dodging and burning, sharpening, contrast and slight color adjustment or the digital equivalents, are acceptable for all categories. If our judges see that the photographer has obviously altered a photo, they have the right to disqualify it.

When submitting a photograph, you will have an opportunity to describe any adjustments made to the image. Please be as descriptive as possible. 

Do you accept black-and-white photographs?
Yes. Also, color photographs changed to black and white are acceptable in all categories; however, please make sure that any additional adjustments you make to the image abide by the rules concerning enhancing or altering photographs.

May I enter the same photograph into multiple categories?
No. Please do not enter the same photograph in more than one category.

What size should my digital image be for uploading with the online entry form?
Files submitted may not be larger than 10 MB. Photo contest images are judged on computer screens, which have a maximum resolution of 72dpi. When uploading an image, we require a minimum width of 2,000 pixels. Please retain a high-resolution version of your photograph(s) in your personal files. You will need to have a higher-resolution image on hand, a minimum of 300 dpi and 3,000 pixels on the longest side, to be considered in the final rounds of the contest.

What if my digital photograph does not have a resolution of 300 dpi, or more, at least 3,000 pixels on the longest side?
Without this requirement, Air & Space editors cannot consider your photograph as a possible finalist or winner in our contest.

Will you accept photos with watermarks?
We will always display a credit alongside your photo as it appears on the site. We encourage you to remove any watermarks so we can see your photograph without any part covered up.

Will you change the category if you think I put my photograph into the wrong one?
Yes. If appropriate, Air & Space judges will change the category of your submission. This will not affect your eligibility to win.

I entered my photo into another contest and it won. Can I enter it into this contest?
No. Photographs that have won other contests, either online or in print, are not eligible for submission. We define winning as having won a grand prize and having won 1st, 2nd or 3rd place overall.

Is it OK to enter a photograph that has been on my website?
Yes, your photograph is eligible for submission.

I am a Smithsonian Institution intern. Can I enter?
No. Smithsonian Institution employees, Regents, trustees, interns, volunteers, fellows and research associates are ineligible to enter the contest. Photographers who have had work published in the magazine within the last year are also ineligible. 

I'm 17 years old. Can I enter the contest?
We are sorry, but you will need to be 18 as of November 1, 2017 to qualify.

What rights to my photograph do I retain?
You retain your rights to your photograph; however, by entering the contest, entrants grant Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine 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 Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine purposes. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit as feasible. Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

Where can I send questions and feedback?
Please e-mail further questions to

Last updated: March 20, 2017.