Photo Contest Rules

Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine’s 2017 Photo Contest begins March 22, 2017, and ends November 1, 2017, at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST). By submitting an entry, each contestant agrees to the rules of the contest and states that he or she is 18 years old or older.

Who may enter:
The contest is open to all individuals 18 years old or older. Individuals affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, including employees, emeriti, Regents, trustees, interns, volunteers, fellows, research associates and their immediate families (children, siblings and spouses), and others living in their households are not eligible for any prize. Photographers who have not had a photograph published in the magazine during the past year are eligible. Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine will determine winners’ eligibility in its sole discretion.

What to enter:
The following four contest categories are drawn from subjects of interest to Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine:

1.     Astronomy: Images of celestial bodies, whether taken in your backyard with your camera or through a telescope.

2.     Military: Photographs of fixed-wing or rotary aircraft, or UAVs—in any category from combat to cargo—currently operated or operated in the past by any armed service.

3.     Civilian: Photographs of any non-military aircraft or spacecraft, vintage or modern; everything from homebuilts to rockets to aerobatic craft to airliners.

4.     People & Planes: Airplanes and the people who appreciate them, anyone from pilots to enthusiasts. 

To be eligible for any category, a photograph must have been shot by the entrant between January 1, 2014 and November 1, 2017.

Cropped photos are eligible in all categories. Minor adjustments, including spotting, dodging and burning, sharpening, contrast and slight color adjustment or the digital equivalents, are acceptable for all categories. If the judges determine that a photographer has altered his or her photo, they reserve the right to disqualify it.

Model release: For a photo in which a person is recognizable, you must secure a model release from the subject or, in the case of a minor, the subject’s parent or guardian and provide it to Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine upon request. A sample release is available for download here.

Similarly, entrants whose photos depict other people’s work (such as sculptures, statues, paintings, and other copyrightable works) may be need to obtain a release from the rights holder and provide it to Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine upon request.  When photographing the work of others, it must be as an object in its environment and not a full-frame close-up of another person’s creation.  A sample release is available for download here.

Photographs that have won any other contests are not eligible. We define winning as having won a grand prize or 1st, 2nd or 3rd place overall. Photos that violate or infringe upon another person’s rights, including but not limited to copyright, are not eligible.

Photos that contain sexually explicit, nude, obscene, violent or other objectionable or inappropriate content, as determined by Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine in its sole discretion, are ineligible for all categories of this contest.

How to enter:

Please submit photographs and requested information online through our website. We do not accept photographs submitted through the mail. Submit no more than fifteen (15) photographs per category. We do not accept more than one contestant per e-mail address.

High-quality scans of non-digital photographs are acceptable. Digital photographs should be taken at the highest resolution possible. Use the online entry form on our website. Complete a separate form for each photo submitted. Photographs must be in a .jpeg, .jpg or .gif format. Files submitted may not be larger than 10 MB. The 40 finalists will be asked to submit a high-resolution file or an original negative, print or slide. Original negatives, prints or slides will be returned to finalists.

Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine reserves the right to disqualify incomplete entries and/or contestants who are unable to submit, upon request, a high-resolution photograph of at least 300 dpi at 3,000 pixels on the longest side or an original photo negative, print or slide.

Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine may collect a photograph’s metadata upon entry.

You retain your rights to your photograph; however, by entering the contest, you grant Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine (and those authorized by Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine) a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion of the magazine and its website, exhibition, and commercial products, including but not limited to Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine publications. 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.

Entry deadline:
The contest begins on March 22, 2017. All entries must be received through the Air & Space magazine website by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on November 1, 2017.


Photo entries will be selected based on creativity, quality, originality, adherence to category, and overall impact, except that the Readers’ Choice award will be determined based on which of the finalists receives the most votes.

Selection will be conducted by the editors of Air & SpaceAir & Space/Smithsonian magazine will select 10 finalists per category, a winner for each category, and a Grand Prize winner from the 40 finalists; and a Readers’ Choice winner will be selected from among the 40 finalists based on public voting. Winning photographs will be announced in the magazine in spring 2018.

The 40 finalists will be notified of their status by November 20, 2017 and will appear on our website in December 2017. At that time, the public can vote on our website for one Readers’ Choice winner from the 40 finalists. The Readers’ Choice winner will be announced in the magazine in spring 2017, along with the grand prize and category winners.

Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine will notify the winner via the contact information provided at the time of entry; Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine may disqualify anyone who fails to respond to the notification within five business days.

Please do not contact us about the status of entries or judging.

Prizes: Five prizes will be awarded, as follows:

Grand Prize: $500

Category Winners: $100

One cash prize per person. Winners must sign a release and license, as well as a declaration of eligibility, and will be responsible for paying any taxes they may owe on a prize.

Online Features:  Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine may select photos for highlight on its website or display in a publicly accessible contest archive; such selections will be made at Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine’s sole discretion.

Conditions of Entry

All entrants hold the Sponsors and their respective regents, directors, officers, employees, emeriti, fellows, interns, research associates, and volunteers (the “Indemnified Parties”) harmless from and against all claims of any nature arising in connection with entrant’s participation in the contest and acceptance or use of a prize. The Indemnified Parties are not liable for any costs, damages, injuries, or other claims incurred as a result of entrants’ participation in the contest or winner’s acceptance and usage of a prize.  The Indemnified Parties are not responsible for incomplete or misdirected entries, technical or network malfunctions or failures, or causes beyond their control. Entrants are solely responsible for their entries. Entrants may not submit materials that introduce any software viruses, worms or other programs designed to damage software, hardware or telecommunications equipment or are off-topic, partisan-political, contain advertising, nudity, personal attacks or expletives, or is otherwise abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, discriminatory, libelous, obscene, false, sexually explicit, or that infringes on the rights of any third party.

The contest is void where prohibited or restricted by law. Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine reserves the right to cancel the contest or modify these rules at its discretion. In the event of a dispute regarding the winners, Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine reserves the right to award or not award the prizes in its sole discretion. Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine reserves the right to disqualify any entrant whose entry or conduct appears in any way to: inhibit the enjoyment of others; tamper with the competition; violate these rules or other applicable law or regulation; infringe on the rights of third parties; or act in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Decisions of Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine are final and binding.

Updated: March 20, 2017