SPIE International Day of Light Photo Contest

Submit your image for a chance to win prizes in our annual photo contest

Shining a light on our global stage

The SPIE International Day of Light Photo Contest is held annually to raise awareness about the International Day of Light and to demonstrate the impact that light has on cultural, economic, and political aspects of our world. Amateur and professional photographers alike are encouraged to submit photos for a chance to win cash prizes.
Winners of the 2023 contest will be announced here on 30 October, 2023.

View 2022 contest winners

Prizes and important dates

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 2024: Photo Contest opens
  • 16 September 2024: Photo Contest closes
  • 16 October 2024: Winners are notified
  • 30 October 2024: Winners are announced

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

Photographers age 13 to 17 should submit their images to the Youth Photo Contest.

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

Have questions? Email us at IDLinfo@spie.org

2022 Photo Contest winners and judges favorites


First Prize (US $2,500) 

Mustasinur Rahman Alvi from Barishall, Bangladesh for the image Roadscape.

"I am a 24-year-old engineer and photojournalist based in Barishal, Bangladesh. Bangladesh has only one express road -- the Faridpur-Vanga-Dhaka highway -- connecting the capital of Dhaka with my hometown, Barishal. Whenever I go to Dhaka, I have to travel by this express highway. This is one of the beautiful roads in Bangladesh, and always inspires me to take a drone shot of it: whenever I have an opportunity to take a ride on this road, I take as many drone shots as I can, morning or night. At night, the roads look especially fantastic. I faced a couple of challenges to get his shot as you can't just stop your car on the highway. At night, when the vehicles are less in number on these roads, I could get my desired shots. I have been doing photography for seven years now, focusing on daily-life or lifestyle-based photography. I also like capturing light and shadow in nature. I want to capture the life we lead everyday with my eyes and with my camera."

Second Prize (US $1,000)

Rahmad Himawan from Argamakmur, Indonesia, for the image The Bright Morning Sun Makes the Rice Grow Luxuriantly

"I live in a rural area on the edge of the small town of Argamakmur, Bengkulu Province, Indonesia. Here, I wanted to show that light when the morning begins. It gives hope and enthusiasm to every living creature, including plants and rice which grow with the help of sunlight and water. Morning light reflects that beauty, in addition to helping the growth process itself. I am always very happy to enjoy the morning light; it makes me excited to go through the day. I really love to wake up early, before the sun rises, go to the mountain, feel the cool morning air, and wait until the sun starts shining bright. I am very satisfied with the results of my photo because I can share the beauty of the morning with others. The water reflections show the natural beauty of the sky, light, mountains, and the arches of the terraces – in my mind, depicting the path of life that is not always straight. I work as a freelance photographer, I usually get job calls for documentation needs, such as social and cultural events, and natural disasters. I not only like but love my profession, because with photography I can learn about many things – about nature and life – as well as other aspects that make me appreciate life more, from the small to the biggest things."

Third Prize (US $500)

Volker Sander from Münster, Germany, for the image Lighthouse.

"I live and work in Münster, Germany, a beautiful city in North Rhine-Westphalia with many historical buildings amid lots of nature. I like lighthouses very much. I visited the lighthouse at Westerhever as part of a photography workshop, and we stayed in the former lighthouse-keeper's home. At night, I was very amazed by the intensity of the light sent across the coast. One of my main challenges in capturing this image was that the light segments of the lighthouse can only be seen clearly when weather conditions are perfect, so I had to wait until two o´clock in the morning, until the air humidity was high enough to make the segments clearly visible. I am very proud of the clear representation of the light segments of the lighthouse, and of the beautiful starry sky that completes the picture. Photography is a real passion for me; it relaxes and enriches me. A day without a camera is a lost day. I really learned to "see" through photography. I'm much more aware of my surroundings now because I'm always on the lookout for great motifs."

Technology Prize: Technology-made Images* (US $750)

Karl Gaff from Lucan, Ireland, for the image Chemical Flower.

"I am from and live in Dublin, Ireland, and work as a technical officer in the School of Physics, Clinical, and Optometric Sciences at TU Dublin. My curiosity lies in the experimentation and synthesis of chemical cocktails and the observation of the resultant shapes and structures of the grains. This is a photograph of one such grain, a crystal grain in a thin polycrystalline film made from a cocktail of chemicals. I liked how the constructive interference of the white ‘stars’ scattered among the wispy tendrils and stellate ridges give a cosmic appearance. In addition, the unusual palette of colors evokes a feeling of pleasure to the eye. The image is not a single shot – it comprises multiple images stacked together. This is because the microscope has a shallow depth of field consisting of only a few microns. To overcome this, a number of images must be acquired at different focal depths in order to gather all information to create a complete, in-focus image through a deconvolution algorithm. When testing out my chemical cocktails, I make at least 10 slides at a time because not all slides are aesthetically beautiful. It is rare that I come across photogenic formations like this one: It is like finding a diamond in the dirt.

When a photogenic formation is found, the lighting is optimized in order to emphasize structure, the image is framed and composed, and the magnification is adjusted – all in order to remove any distractions. Here, I particularly like how, by optimizing the lighting, I was able to give a sense of depth to the image. I have not experimented with this particular retardation plate before; that’s what provided the image with this palette of purple, golden, and turquoise hues. I am particularly interested in the similarities between the patterns that have evolved in this crystalline grain, with similar patterns regularly seen in the botanical kingdom. Being a scientific micro-photographer, I am really interested in photographing and documenting sights never seen before, as well as photographing them in ways that are pleasing to the eye. As a micro-photographer, it is my duty to create awareness of the invisible world around us."

Technology Prize: Technology around the Globe (US $750): 

PFG Precision Optics from Ocean Springs, MS, USA , for the image Artistry of Optics.

"We wanted to showcase the beauty of the precision optics industry. Some people may perceive this line of work as industrial or mechanical, but it is so much more than that – there is a sense of artistry in what we produce and how we produce it. We believe this image captures this feeling."

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

  • Makayla (17 years old) from Ballarat, Australia, for the image The Projection.
  • Geisha (17 years old) from Cosenza, Italia, for the image Greenpeace.
  • Idris Poordehghan (17 years old) from Juoybar, Iran, for their untitled image.