Perry Photo Challenge

A photojournalism competition Perry Challenge

2019 Finalists | 2021 Finalists | 2022 Finalists
life after graphic

Do you have the drive to compete?

Do you have the passion to win?

Can you tell a story in photos?

Enter the Philip Perry Photojournalism Challenge for the chance to win a scholarship to continue your studies at Nebraska.

Open to all undergraduate majors at CoJMC graduating no sooner than May 2024.

February 25 & 26, March 4, 2023

About the contest
  • Saturday, February 25
    • 11:30 a.m. – Perry Challenge kickoff meeting.
    • 12:00 p.m. – Challenge begins. Participants have 24 hours to shoot and edit a photo essay of up to 12 photographs interpreting the 2023 theme (TBA).
  • Sunday, February 26
    • 12:00 p.m.– Photo essay and caption submissions are due.
  • Saturday, March 4
    • 9:00 a.m. - Judges begin reviewing essays. They will choose five finalists based on their photo essay and caption submissions.
    • 2:00 p.m. - Judges annouce top five finalists.
    • 5:00 p.m.– Finalists present their work to the judges, faculty and the public and a winner will be named.

The Spring 2023 contest is open to all undergraduate majors in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications graduating no sooner than May 2024. There are no pre-requisite courses or experience needed to compete. The contest is limited to the first 20 participants who register. Students need to be present in Lincoln, Nebraska, for the kickoff meeting and the judging to participate. Photographs must be taken only during the contest period and only using the provided equipment.


All needed equipment will be provided by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Participants may not use their own equipment. Students must return the equipment following the competition.

Judging criteria

Judges will review each participant’s digital submissions, considering the quality of the photographs’ subject matter, impact, creativity, composition, technical quality and storytelling.

  • Subject matter - Does the photo essay fully capture the theme ‘Life After’? Do the images support the story idea and intent.
  • Impact - The sense one gets upon viewing an image for the first time. Compelling photo essays evoke laughter, sadness, anger, pride, wonder or another intense emotion. What emotions does the photo essay evoke? 
  • Creativity - How original and imaginative the contestant was to convey an idea, message or thought through their photo essay and images. 
  • Composition - Ability to bring all the visual elements together to express the purpose of the images in a consistent manner. The images draw the viewer in and prompt the viewer to look where the creator intended. 
  • Technical quality - The use of color and lighting in the images is thoughtful and enhances quality. The images are clear and in focus. 
  • Storytelling - The ability of the essay to evoke imagination in what is happening in the photographs. Does the story being told reflect the theme of the contest? 
*About the prize

The winning participants will receive scholarships applied directly to their student accounts during the 2023-2024 academic year. The total dollar value of the scholarship will not exceed $7,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. The scholarship must be applied during the 2023-2024 academic year and cannot be carried forward to future semesters. The winning participant must remain a major in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, in good academic standing during the 2023-2024 academic year to remain eligible for the award.

The 2022 Judges

Allen Schaben
Allen Schaben

Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Times 

See Allen's Bio

Calla Kessler
Calla Kessler

Freelance Photographer, NYC

See Calla's Bio

Robert Cohen
Robert Cohen

Staff Photojournalist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

See Robert's Bio

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

Professor of Visual Communication, University of Connecticut

See Steve's Bio

Anna Reed
Anna Reed

Photojournalist, Omaha World Herald

See Anna's Bio

Registration has closed

Registration for the 2023 competition will open in February, 2023

Contest Rules
  1. Contest participants must be available and in Lincoln, NE for the event on February 25 & 26 and March 4, 2023. 
  2. Entries must be the sole and original work of the entrant taken during the contest period beginning at 12 p.m. on February 25 and ending at 12 p.m. on February 26, 2023.
  3. Photo and caption entries must be submitted to the judges by the deadline of 12 p.m. CST on Sunday, February 26, 2023.
  4. Each photo entry should contain the following information: title of essay, name of contestant, time and location of the photographs, and captions. 
  5. Each photograph should include a caption that clearly identifies the people and location that appear in the photo; includes the date and day the photo was taken; provides some context or background to the reader so he or she can understand the news value of the photographs.
  6. On Saturday, March 4, 2023, the judges will select five contest finalists using the criteria listed above. 
  7. On Saturday, March 4, 2023, the five finalists will present their essay's in-person (location TBA). The judges will have the opportunity for questions following the presentations. The judges will select the topt three grand prize winners following the presentations. The judge's decisions are final. 
  8. By submitting the entry form, entrants are agreeing to grant the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, its component campuses, its representatives, employees, agents and assigns, the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use, reproduce and publish, royalty-free,  submitted photographs for editorial, trade, advertising or any other purpose and in any manner and medium; to alter the same without restriction. Entrants release the University of Nebraska, its component campuses and its Regents, officers, employees, agents, legal representatives and assign from any and all claims, actions and liability related to its use of said photographs.
  9. All entrants hold the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, its component campuses, its representatives, employees, agents and assigns (the University) harmless from and against all claims of any nature arising in connection with entrant's participation in the contest and acceptance of the prize. The University is 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 university is not responsible for incomplete or misdirected entries, technical or network malfunctions or failures, or causes beyond their control. 
  10. The university reserves the right to cancel or modify the rules at its discretion. In the event of a dispute regarding the winners, the university reserves the right to award or not award the prize in its sole discretion. The university 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 the rules or other applicable law or regulations; infringes on the rights of third parties; or act in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Decisions of the university are final and binding. 
  11. The contest, entrant submission and the rules shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Nebraska. Any aspects or disputes arising out of or in connection with the contest and/or entrant submissions will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Nebraska courts. 
Code of Ethics
    1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
    2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
    3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one's own biases in the work.
    4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
    5. While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
    6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
    7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
    8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
    9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.
    10. Do not engage in harassing behavior of colleagues, subordinates or subjects and maintain the highest standards of behavior in all professional interactions.
    In our grit our glory words

    Andrea Gaghagen
    Scholarship Committee