Muster Photo Competition

This year’s submission period is June 1, 2016 - August 12, 2016.

Read through the guidelines below and use the button on the bottom of the page to complete the $30 USD Muster entry payment. Upon completing payment, you will receive a link to the photo submission site.

Note that some aspects of entering the competition have changed significantly. Read the Entry Submission procedures carefully before submitting your photos. 

Muster Photo Competition Rules and Requirements:

  1. The SATW Muster Photo Competition is open to all members of the Society of American Travel Writers.
  2. All images must have been shot between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016. Photos do not need to have been published in order to be submitted.
  3. A maximum of 20 images can be submitted per member in a jpg format.
  4. Entries must be received no later than Friday, August 12, 2016 at 5:00 P.M. PDT. Submissions received after this date will not be considered.
  5. Photos submitted must not have won a cash prize in any previous Bill Muster Photo Competition. Honorable Mentions may be re-entered if they still fit within the time limits.
  6. A photo that is judged to be too similar to another image (by the same photographer) that has previously won a gold, silver, or bronze award in a previous Bill Muster Photo Competition will be disqualified. This means a photo that shows the same activity or same location, with a similar viewpoint to a previous winning image. Conversely, a photographer who has won a cash award in a previous year with a photo of, for example the Parthenon, may submit another photo of the Parthenon at a later point if the new image is distinctly different from the earlier one.
  7. Images may have been shot with film and scanned to a digital file, or shot with a digital camera.  Basic photo processing such as cropping, exposure, contrast, color balance and adjustment, saturation, sharpening and dust spotting is allowed as well as High Dynamic Range (HDR) techniques where two or more images are blended together realistically and the stitching of two or more images.
  8. Images that are not allowed: Altering photos by adding or removing objects, backgrounds, or skies; compositing by combining two or more photos with different elements such as a moon; adding colors or textures not in the original capture; and other major alterations that transform the image into something significantly different than the original capture.
  9. All photos submitted must be essentially editorial in content.  This means that these images are appropriate for a travel publication, book or web site.  Photos identified as having been taken in a studio, or perceived by the judges as having been shot primarily for a commercial purpose (such as an advertising campaign), will be disqualified.
  10. The decision of the judges is final. Judges may reclassify entries into another appropriate category at their discretion.
  11. Winners will be announced at the SATW annual convention in Wenzhou in October 2016, and will be featured in the Bill Muster Photography Showcase presentation.

Three Competitions Available for Submission

1) Photographer of the Year

  • Submit 20 images on a variety of travel destinations and categories. Images not selected as Photographer of the Year winners will be considered for the six individual categories.

2) Single Subject Portfolio

  • Submit 10 images from one specific subject. Images not selected as Single Subject Portfolio winners will be considered for the six individual categories. Because you are allowed 20 total photos, you may submit two single subject portfolios, or one single subject portfolio and up to 10 photos in the six individual categories alone.
  • Single Subject Portfolio images may be any of the following:
    • Single destination, a particular cultural group, such as the Spanish Basques; a particular subject, such as Austrian Lipizzaner horses; or a performance group, such as Cirque du Soleil. 

3) Individual Categories 

  • Submit up to 20 photos to be judged exclusively for the six individual categories.
    • Action – Things in motion, sports
    • Animal – Animal(s) should dominate, but people in the frame are acceptable
    • Cultural – Man-made or ethnic
    • Natural Scenic – Dominantly natural but may have some human elements such as a dock on a beach
    • People General – Groups of people or individuals engaged in activities such as kayaking, on horseback, etc. 
    • People Portraits – One or more individuals in a portrait format
  • There is no restriction as to the number of entries in any given category—you can submit one photo or 20 in any individual category, up to a maximum of 20 total.

Entry Submission Procedures

1) Submit your 2017 Muster Competition Entry Form online via the button at the bottom of this page.

2) Submit photos online (you will receive the link in your entry form confirmation email). 

3) Once on the file submission site, submit photos for each competition you are entering into. Enter all the photos you are submitting for each category. For example:

  • If you are entering a Photographer of the Year Album, click on this competition and upload all 20 photos in this submission.
  • If you are entering two Single subject Albums, click on that competition and enter your first album. After completing this submission, go back to the original link and submit your second album.
  • If you are entering one Single Subject Album, four individual Animal photos, three individual Cultural photos, two Natural Scenic photos, and one People General photo, click on each of these competitions and enter all your photos in each of these categories. This means that you will have submitted a total of 5 times: once for your ten photo album and once in each of the individual photo categories you are entering into.

4) File Naming: For albums, if you would like your photos to be looked at in a particular order, please title them as 01, 02, 03... in each submission. Other than ordering, you will NOT need to name your photos in a particular manner. Your photos will be designated into the correct contest based on where you submit them above, and judges will be able to discern which of the six categories that photos in albums belong to.

5) File Size: Please keep photos to less than 10 MB.

Cash prizes (USD) are subsidized by a generous donation from Bill Muster Jr. and Nori Muster.

  • Cash awards for Travel Photographer of the Year: Gold ($1000); Silver ($750); Bronze ($500)
  • Cash awards for Best Single Subject Portfolio: Gold ($750); Silver ($500); Bronze ($300)
  • Cash awards for the six individual categories: Gold ($300); Silver ($200); Bronze ($100); Honorable Mentions do not receive a cash prize

View the 2016 Muster Award Winners here

Judging Criteria
All photos will be judged on their overall quality as well as the extent to which they meet specific criteria for each contest. 

- For Photographer of the Year, judges will be looking for albums that display multiple destinations and categories and inspire travel. The album will be judged as a totality.
- For Single Subject, judges will be looking for albums that display a single destination, subject, or group in a way that creates a sense of identity for the subject and inspires travel. The album will be judged as a totality.
- For Individual Category, judges will be looking for high-quality photos in each category. 

Judging and Photography Rights
An independent panel of highly qualified judges will select all winners. Submission of photos automatically allows SATW the right to display, exhibit and publish said images in non-profit society-related uses, including the SATW website. Otherwise, all rights remain with the photographer.

Contact Jocelyn Padilla at

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