Rules for The Clips, NPPA’s Regional Monthly Still Photojournalism Competition.


The contest is open to all members in good standing whose dues are paid for the month of the competition entered. New or renewal dues must be received by the national office during the contest month. (Note: dues paid by check may take up to a week to process; please plan accordingly.)

Members submit entries online in the region in which they reside or work. Interns or students may enter in either their region of residence or in the region where they work or attend classes, but not both.


All entrants who place (first, second, or third) in any competition month will be entered into a pool of potential judges for one additional contest in another region within the next 12 months.

Placing in a contest and being entered into the judges pool does not mean the entrant will automatically be called to judge. A judge who completes a contest will not be re-added to the judging pool or selected again for another 12 months unless they volunteer proactively.

Only published entries are eligible. Publication is defined as printed or electronically reproduced by a news/editorial outlet. Simple database postings are not eligible. Discretion in determining the form or context of a news/editorial outlet is granted to the Regional Clip Chairs. Entries may be from any publication or enterprise except those produced by NPPA, including wire services. Entrants may be asked to show proof of publication on a case-by-case basis or risk disqualification of the image.

Additionally, photographers cannot be paid by anyone with a commercial stake in the story, and no branded content will be accepted. Photos taken under contract with an institution/organization, regardless of style or use, are not eligible.

Images taken in one month but not published until a later month may only be entered once they have been published.

Neither the name of the photographer nor the publication or enterprise may be shown visually on the image (that is, no watermarks or badges should appear).

All entries must have a caption, which may be either the original published caption or a freshly produced caption that clearly explains what the picture shows.


Before uploading your images please make sure that your File Info/IPTC caption information area is filled out correctly.

Please place the following information in the specific corresponding text fields. The contest chair has authority to disqualify any image that fails to have the required IPTC information properly placed.

Caption* = IPTC Caption (PhotoMechanic) or IPTC Description (Photoshop)

Photographer’s Name only = IPTC Credit (PhotoMechanic) IPTC Credit Line (Photoshop)

Publication Name only = IPTC Source

*DO NOT put Photographer’s Name/Publication Name in the same field.

*DO NOT place your name or credit information in the caption field.

*DO NOT fill out these fields in ALL CAPS. Please use standard capitalization.

  Example from PhotoMechanic IPTC stationary.
Example from Photoshop File Info.

If you do work for multiple outlets you may indicate the specific publication name in the Source field for each image, but in the submission form either choose ONE publication consistently, or designate “freelance” or similar title.

*Captions MUST include the date the image was shot and should be in proper style i.e. “John Smith chops wood on March 14, 2015.” The publication date must also be included if the date taken is a different month then when the image was first published i.e. a photo taken in June but isn’t published until August MUST include publication date. Photographs published later in “year-end” galleries are not eligible to be entered.

Entrants should clean their captions of any internal publication notes and wording. Clip chairs will not clean up captions and judges are instructed to judge entries on the complete merit of photographs – caption and image.


All images must be saved as Good quality JPEG files with a maximum dimension of 3000 pixels on a side (10″ at 300 dpi). Image files must be 3 MB or less (the submission form will reject your entire set of entries if even one file is over-size).


The list of the categories, the category codes, and descriptions can be found on the Contest Categories and Descriptions page.


Each image file that is entered must be unique. Each entrant at the start of the image filename should put the image category abbreviation followed by an underscore (_), then their phone number followed by an underscore (_), then the story slug. If the image is part of a multi-photo package, entrants should add an underscore (_) and then a sequential number following the story slug. The story slug should remain the same for all images in the package.
Feature Single = FTSG
General News = GENW
Portrait = PORT
Photo Story/Essay = PSES
Sports Feature = SPFT
Sports Action = SPAC
Spot News = SPNW

For single images, label your images like the following:


Feel free to use more than one word for the slug, capitalizing each word instead of a space.

*DO NOT put a number on the end of single image entries.

For multiple images within the same package, use the same story slug across all images and add a numerical sequence:



GENW_3215551234_WomensMarch_03.jpg, etc.


A maximum of 12 entries may be made each month in any combination of the seven categories.

Multiple picture entries can be made in any category EXCEPT Feature/Single.

[Updated for 2023] *Multiple photo entries in the General News (GENW), Portrait/Illustration (POIL), Sports Action (SPAC), Sports Feature (SPFT), and Spot News (SPNW) must consist of a minimum of three photos and a maximum of 15 photos. If you are submitting only two photos then they would count as two single entries. (not including the title slide, which does not count toward either the minimum or maximum count)

[Updated for 2023] Entries in the Photo Story/Essay (PSES) category must consist of a minimum of five images and a maximum of 20. (not including the title slide, which does not count toward either the minimum or maximum count)

[Updated for 2023] All multiple photo entries, regardless of category, MUST have a title slide. This title slide shall be a blank slide, any color (though Black or White is preferable) with clearly legible text that gives the story slug (you may use the full entry name as outlined above) on one line, and a second line with the number of images (not including the title slide) included in the entry (see example below). The title slide should be number 01 in the entry sequence, but does NOT count for or against the entry minimum of maximum. An entry with the maximum 15 (or 20 in PSES) images would have 16 (or 21) slides including the title slide. Conversely, a minimum entry of 3 images would have 4 slides including the title slide.  The caption field for the title slide is an ideal place to include your summary paragraph for the story/series. 

Multiple picture entries made in the Photo Story/Essay category should have a continuous narrative or theme throughout the images. A collection of photos from a funeral, for example, should be entered in General News – a funeral is a planned event, the collection shows the timeline of the event. A collection of action photos from an NCAA Tournament game could be entered as a single set in Sports Action. A series of photos that follows a team throughout the NCAA Tournament and tells the story of their journey which consists of more than just action or feature photos alone could be placed in the Photo Story/Essay category.

Any series of related pictures published in more than one month may be entered as a single entry for the final month in which they were published.

A picture can only be entered once in the contest. If a picture is published at a later date, after it has already been entered in a previous month’s competition, it can not be entered again.

Similarly, the same picture cannot be entered in more than one contest category for the same month, nor may a picture entered singly appear as part of a multiple-picture entry for the same month. If the same picture appears in more than one entry for the month, the regional chair may disqualify one or both entries.

An entry must have been first published in the month it is entered in the contest. For example, an image shot and published in February must be entered in February’s competition. Photographs published later in “year-end” galleries are not eligible to be entered. This rule does not apply to multiple picture entries which may have been photographed over the course of months or even years. This rule is to try to maintain a level playing field for all entrants in order to more fully realize the spirit of the competition.

If an entrant is confused or not sure of a picture’s eligibility, it is suggested the photographer contact their clip chair before the contest deadline and get a clarification. It is up to the photographer to solicit the clip chair’s permission beforehand (or risk having their entry disqualified).

Each entry must be the work of an individual photographer.

Any entry not meeting to these guidelines are subject to disqualification by either the clip chairs and/or judges.


[Updated for 2023] Please submit all your entries for the month in one batch. DO NOT submit each entry individually as this complicates the entry tracking system.


Each photographer entering the contest receives five points per month entered. First place receives 50 points, second place receives 40 points and third place 30 points. No ties or honorable mentions will be awarded. Points count only in the region in which they are earned and cannot be transferred.

If a winning entry is disqualified for any reason, the next place will be moved up to fill the disqualified image’s spot. For example: If the first place winner was disqualified, the second place winner will move to first place; the third place winner will move to second place. An alternate image – if the judges have selected one – will be moved into the third place position and receive 30 points. The judges will be asked to pick four winners in each category, but in the off-chance they do not, there will be no third place winner and the 30 points will be lost.

Judges have the authority to not award any place to an image if the entries within a category are exceptionally weak or not enough entries are present.

If an image is disqualified, the photographer may challenge the ruling. In that case, the photographer would appeal to the national clip chair. The national clip chair and two other regional clip chairs (from a different region than the photographer who is making the appeal) will make the final decision. The photographer must supply any information they feel will help make his/her case or that the MNCC Appeals Committee requests. A decision will be made within three weeks of the appeal.


The photographer who accumulates the most points in each region during the calendar year will be named Regional Photographer of the Year, provided the photographer has shown versatility by winning in at least three of the seven contest categories during the year. In case of a tie, both photographers will share the title.

In case of a year-end tie within a region’s top 10 scores, the rank(s) beneath the tie will be skipped for the next award. For example, a two-way tie for top place leaves third place for the next highest photographer.

NATIONAL COMPETITION [The National competition is currently suspended]

Immediately after monthly regional judging, first, second and third place winners in all regions will be combined and judged to select national first, second and third places in each category. No additional points are awarded for national wins, but national winners may appear in national NPPA publications.

The photojournalist with the most points at the end of the year will receive a plaque and be named National Clip Contest Photographer of the Year.

It is understood that any copyright of an entry remains the property of the photographer or employer of the photographer.

However, all participants agree that by entering the contest, entrants give permission to NPPA for its regional and national publications to reproduce winning entries, including but not limited to, regional publications, News Photographer magazine, commercial online services and NPPA presences on the Internet. Reasonable precautions will be taken to ensure the security of electronic reproduction.

NPPA may also enter into agreements with other entities or enterprises for delivery of images entered in the contest. Release of the original photo of any image entry is solely at the discretion of the entrant and any entrant may decline to release any photo for non-NPPA publication without penalty to regional contest standing.

Questions should be addressed to your regional clips chair, or the national clips chair.