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SPIE International Day of Light Photo Contest

Erupting volcano at sunrise

The SPIE International Day of Light Photo Contest is held annually to raise awareness about IDL and to demonstrate the impact light has on cultural, economic, and political aspects of our global society.

Amateur and professional photographers alike are encouraged to submit photos for a chance to win cash prizes. Photographers age 13 to 17 should submit their images to the Youth Photo Contest.

The theme of the photo contest is A World of Light: The Vital Role That Light and Light-Based Technologies Play in Daily Life. Examples of content include, but are not exclusive to, artistic images that depict:

• Various properties of light and how it interacts with the atmosphere, nature, and materials
• Light technology such as lasers, LEDs, etc.
• Images created with light technology such as telescopes and microscopes
• People interacting with light and/or light technology
• The betterment of the human condition with light

Enter Photo Contest  ›       Enter Youth Contest  ›


Contest Details:

By entering the International Day of Light Photo Contest, you are agreeing to the rules.

The 2022 SPIE IDL Photo Contest runs from 16 May 2022 to 16 September 2022.

Have questions? Email us at IDLinfo@spie.org

Cash Prizes:
• First Prize: US $2,500
• Second Prize: US $1,000
• Third Prize: US $500
• Technology and Science Prizes: US $750
• Youth Prizes: Surprise gift box of SPIE merchandise
Important Dates:
• 16 May 2022: Photo Contest opens
• 16 September 2022: Photo Contest closes
• 16 October 2022: Winners are notified
• 30 October 2022: Winners are announced


 Congratulations winners of the 2021 Photo Contest

The annual SPIE International Day of Light Photo Contest is held to raise awareness about IDL and the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in daily life. This year, photographers from Russia, Vietnam, Italy, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, and the United States were named winners of the contest from more than 1600 entries depicting the world-of-light theme.

The winners are:

• First Prize (US $2,500): Pavel Tkachuk from Moscow, Russia, for his image “Russian Drift”

I live in Moscow and work in the social-media marketing sphere. Photography is my hobby rather than my main work, but I never miss an opportunity to take a shot, even if I only have my phone with me. I believe that the best camera is the one you have in your hand. For this image, I believe I mostly was inspired by the film Mad Max: Fury Road, but my friends think that images of Mars inspired me to take this photo. I was waiting for the moment when I would be lucky enough to get the right light and the car's color. I like the moment that's captured here:  it shows all the power and spectacle of a car during drift competitions. I always enjoy taking a new shot - it always feels like the first lucky shot of my life. That feeling passes fast, but with the next new shot I can enjoy that feeling again, like a child with their first toy.

• Second Prize (US $1,000): Tuan Ngoc Do from Nha Trang, Vietnam, for their image “Night Salt Harvest”

I live and work in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam. I have been to photograph the labor scene of the salt makers many times. This time, I photographed the sunset in Ninh Diem Salt Field, and I saw the working people taking advantage of the light of the motorbike, creating a frame. It was a fanciful scene, very different to the ones at daytime. The night salt harvest is very rare, so it was my luck to catch this moment, and I'm so proud that this work brought me your award. I started taking photos in 2015; now I work to compose themes about marine landscapes as well as daily life in all regions of Vietnam.

• Third Prize (US $500): Le Tri from Hoi An City, Vietnam, for their image “Grass Harvest”

When I drove my scooter by the rice field in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, I saw the beauty of that image and I wanted to capture the moment, so I used my drone - a Mavic 2 Pro - to take pictures. I took many shots, but I found this to be the most interesting one. I'm really proud of it, because it shows our country to the world. I was born, live, and work in Hoi An, a beautiful, ancient city. Being a photographer has provided me with many experiences around my country, and I learn many things when I travel. I'm now a managing director of Trile Media, a company which produces commercial videos and photography in Hoi An.

• Technology Prize: Technology-made Images* (US $750): Giancarlo Rupolo from Caneva, Italy, for the image “Crystals”

This image, taken in 1985, was inspired by a phrase by Paul Klee: "Art does not reproduce the visible, rather, it makes visible." This phrase stimulated my imagination and, as I am a chemist, I started to cause crystallizations during specially created chemical reactions and photograph them under the microscope. The first difficulty was in finding the most suitable type of lighting to achieve this result. The second difficulty was in capturing the instant in which crystallization is being created — I'm proud of being able to capture this force that is generated by nature. I want to clarify that I am not a professional photographer: I have always worked in a cancer research laboratory and am now retired. Photography is an art form that began to fascinate me many years ago and that I developed, with a lot of effort, always in an amateur way. I am 76 years old, and I live in Caneva, Italy, a small town in the province of Pordenone.

• Technology Prize: Technology around the Globe * (US $750): Froiland Rivera from Manila, Phillipines, for the image “Light in Tech”

I took this photo in Manila, Philippines, where I am a freelance photographer. Technology today is very vital for all of us, especially for our children.  Many kids today enjoy the games these gadgets offer, but if they use the technology in a more productive way, they can learn almost anything about the world around us. The light from those screens is one of the key components of how we live today. Lighting is always difficult in photography; I had to work to balance the LCD lights with the subjects and their environment. The element I'm most proud of in this image is capturing this scene, a natural environment, a natural setting - it's real. As a photographer, I really appreciate the opportunity to travel, and to meet different people from different cultures. I often shoot for events as a job and with my spare time I enjoy walking anywhere and taking photos of anything interesting.

• Youth Category: Ages 13 -17 years old (Gift baskets)

• Jai Shet (17 years old) from Sugarland, Texas (USA) for his image “Lighting Up the Night”.

• Arnob (17 years old) from Dhaka, Bangladesh, for his image “Abendrot”.

• Adrita Dey (15 years old) from Kolkata, India, for her image “Lantern Festival at China”. 

Featured submissions from previous Photo Contests

2017 2018
2019 2020