Arts & Culture, Featured

clay Photography Competition 2020: Photography as Poetry

Hello, fellow TPSers!

I am happy to announce the beginning of clay’s photography competition for this year! It’s been a while, but it has returned for the turn of a new decade. However, unlike last time, this year’s competition will be based around a singular theme: poetry. Your objective is to take a poem and recreate the experience of reading it in a picture. This isn’t limited to the imagery and also extends to elements like the rhythm and the emotions of the poem, so there will be many things to consider. Please read the details below and then fill out the form. Best of luck with your work and may it glorify Christ!


Samuel Kleis

Your 2020 competition host and clay’s Photography Columnist



In order to sign up, please fill out the form linked here: The deadline for submission is April 6.

You may enter only one (1) of the following categories with only one (1) submission: Portrait, Landscape, Macro, and B&W.

All submitted pictures must be taken after March 16, 2020. Furthermore, they must be submitted in JPEG or JPG formats. This is because JPEG/JPG is a compressed and universal format which will make uploading and judging your submissions far easier. If you shoot in a raw format like CR2 or NRW, please convert the image to JPEG/JPG before submitting. If you don’t take your pictures in this manner, don’t worry about this aspect of the submission since every digital camera shoots in JPEG/JPG by default.

There is a section of the form for EXIF data. This part of the form is completely optional, however providing that information will offer better insight into the photographer’s style and how the picture was taken. EXIF data can be found by analyzing your image at or with an image editor.

Judging will end by April 17, at which point the winners of each category and the final three winners will be announced, the latter of which will be the recipients of the prizes. Submissions will not only be evaluated on their overall quality, but also how well they fit into the theme. Off topic submissions will be disqualified.

Editing is allowed and you may alter your submission in any way you like, such as color correction, contrast adjustment, or some drastic edits. However, distortions, elements edited into the picture in post, or any other edits that compromise the original graphical elements of the image are not allowed and will result in disqualification.



1st place: certificate, Facebook/Instagram feature, clay feature

2nd place: certificate, Facebook/Instagram feature

3rd place: certificate


If you have any further questions, please email me at


  1. Woww this looks amazingg!! I sorta want to try it.. BTW what is Macro? (inexperienced photographer like me) and also, can we submit old pics? like, pics we took before? Thanks so much!

    • wow looks interesting!!! I’m also a terrible ameteur in photography (with a phone and not much of a camera), but I’ll be looking forward to this! ( Because I reallyyyyy love photography no matter how bad I am at it) ????????????

    • Oof I’m sorry i figured out the answers to both the questions lol

    • I’m a photographer. Macro is a definition for really close up shots where everything but one subject is blurry. However, it is still a very close up shot.

    • Macro is like an unclose photo mostly of nature!! Good luck!

  2. Skarggg, I’m definitely doing this. Sounds great!

  3. Skargin’ donuts, definitely participating!

  4. I will definitely try this!

  5. So stoked for this. Might be a difficult theme tho….how do you recreate the experience of reading poetry in a photo? Any ideas guys?

    • If you want somewhere to start, try structuring your photo around the imagery of the poem, but don’t limit yourself to just the imagery. You’re free to edit your picture to bring out the emotions while reading the poem, or you can have some elements into your picture that call back to its rhythm, like having jagged patterns if the language of the poem feels rough or on edge. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but you have three weeks to enter from today, so don’t worry about getting your submission in right away.

      • I have a Q, could we write the poem? and can it be a song? like, does a song count as a poem? tysm!

        • That may be stretching it a little bit. I may include songs in the definition of “poetry” as well, but that’s dangerously close to being off topic, so I wouldn’t recommend basing it off of a song. Yes you can write your own poem if you really want to, and I’ve added a part in the submission form that will allow you to insert the text of the poem too. But if you base it off of your own poem and don’t give me the poem itself, that will result in disqualification.

  6. Would it be allowed if someone else took the photo, and is taking up a close picture of a flower considered macro?

    • Any picture taken close up to something can be considered macro. You can search on Google Images for macro photography if you want to see a few examples of what that looks like. I would also prefer that every submission is each contestant’s own original work. Entering the contest with someone else’s picture would defeat the point of the competition. But if by “someone else took the photo,” you mean directing the composition of the picture with someone else taking it, then that’s a bit of a grey area. Unless you have a good reason for someone taking the picture for you, I’d recommend staying safe and taking the picture yourself.

  7. In the case that we have no social media, what would we receive in place of the Facebook/instagram feature?

    • I’m not entirely sure to be honest. If you are one of the final two winners and don’t have social media, please let me know, and I’ll contact the senior editors about it for an alternative.

    • hay Aaron!

  8. This sounds really fun (since I love poetry and am a decent photographer). But how on earth do I choose which poem?!

    • ^^^^ yes! Wait, so can we create a totally new poem, or must it be a recreation of one that was written by someone else? And just to be sure, the words of the poem is in the photography itself, right?

      • I’d recommend you take an existing poem and adapt that to a picture. I’m not saying it’s not allowed to write your own poem, but since this is already a fairly difficult theme, I would recommend simply adapting a pre-existing poem. But you can write your own poem if you really want to, just send it to me by email once you submit. And no, the words of the poem don’t have to be in the photography, and I wouldn’t recommend you do. If you mean taking a picture then adding the words later, then that will be disqualified. But if you mean having a slip of paper with the poem on it, you can do that. Just know that you will probably have to do more than take a picture of the poem if you want a stronger submission, and I’m pretty sure this idea can have several creative uses. Good luck!

  9. I’m so excited about this!!! 🙂

  10. This countest sounds great! Maybe I will enter 🙂

  11. so… lets say I was taking a pic to represent The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, would a belfry tower work? Just wondering what the limits are in how obscure it can be.

    • You’re free to do whatever you like with the content of your picture. Just make sure you don’t distort or superimpose anything when you edit as well as follow the other guidelines, and you’re good. You’re free to make the connection obscure, just don’t make it so obscure that it removes any connection it would have to the poem.

  12. I entered but I think I’m to late 🙁 oh well. It was a fun thought process and that is always a good thing

  13. ooooo this is going to be funn and interesting! I already have ideassss

  14. Wow, this sounds really fun!

  15. IMPORTANT NOTE: Hey guys, just a friendly reminder for you all. Please, remember that all submissions must date after March 16, 2020 (or after this announcement went live). There apparently has been some confusion over this rule, but basically what it means is that you can’t use old pictures. Because of recent developments with the coronavirus, I’m willing to make an exception for people who can only submit old pictures, but they have to be taken after January 1, 2020. If you are still allowed outside, please make an effort to submit a picture following that guideline. It really does pain me to disqualify submissions, so please read the rules carefully before submitting. And as always, if you have a question, just email me, and I’ll happily answer within a day.

  16. Neat, but are there requirements for what kind of camera?

    • No, there isn’t. You can even enter the competition with your phone, if you wanted to. It’s practically open to anyone that can take a picture.

  17. This looks really fun, I am definitely doing this ; )

  18. Myla!

    I am doing it to!

  19. This sounds like a lot of fun! Thank you for the information. I will defiantly be participating. 🙂
    However, I do have a question: Will the photographs submitted be judged off of each category separately for the placings or will all the photographs be judged all together? Thank you.

    • The way this will work is that each category will be judged individually in order to find a top 3 in each. Then, the first place of each category will be judged together to find the overall top three. It will be done this way because it would be an almost impossible task judging all of them at once for a final three.

  20. Is it okay if the poem is not by a well-known poet?

    • Absolutely! Just as long as I can find it on the Internet. If I can’t, I’ll let you know.

  21. YASSSS! I’ve been waiting for the return of the photography competition! So excited!!!!!

  22. Sorry, I have another question if you don’t mind: am I allowed to use a quote or does it have to be a poem?
    I had an idea about it, however I did not want to get any penalties. Thank you!

  23. I’m sorry, I am still rather confused about the whole thing. Can you please give a sample or example? Thanks! I’m reaally exited for this ????

  24. Is It possible to use part of a poem instead of the entire poem if the poem is quite long, or if only one part of it suits the picture the best? Thank you for your help!

  25. Inexperienced Photographer ;)

    Wow! I am so excited to try out for this contest!! It sounds so fun!! Good Luck everyone! <3

  26. What is a Facebook/Instagram feature??

    • I’m not entirely sure what that entails (since I’m using the same prize tiers as the last competition), but I’ll talk to the senior editors about it.

    • Basically it means that clay will post your photo on their social media account if you win

  27. Jansen

    Can we sketch?

    • If by sketch, you mean draw a picture, then no. Sorry, this is not that kind of competition.

  28. I submitted it, good luck everyone!

  29. awww acjakjshdasds, i’d really like to do this but i think i’m too busy right now… when is the next one?

  30. Jansen

    Can I submit a poem I wrote myself?

    • Yes, you may. But I highly suggest you take a pre-existing poem because the task is already difficult as it is, so there’s no need to mount the pressure.

  31. I’m sorry, I am still rather confused about the whole thing. Can you please give a sample or example? Thanks!

    • I’m sorry, I can’t really provide that information. Not only do I not have your email, but it would make for an extremely long comment, and I don’t have a sample submission. All I can really say is read the rules carefully as well as my responses to other people’s questions. You’re free to click the link to the submission form and see what it’s like firsthand, so maybe that will help.

  32. Do TPSers vote for the submission or are they judged by the senior editors at Clay?

  33. If there’s something in the background of my picture that I don’t want, can I edit it out or do I have to leave it?

  34. I have a question on the submission form : “This is exclusively for people who are submitting a photo based off of their original poem. Please also include a paragraph break for each line and a blank space between each stanza.”
    What does it mean by submitting a photo based off of their original poem? And must it be the whole poem? Beccause mine is frighteningly long. ????

    • Because I received so many questions about whether people can submit a picture based off of their own poem that they wrote, I added that in to make collecting the poems easier. If your poem was by another author, then you don’t have to worry about that part of the form, I can just look for it on the Internet. I’ll let you know if I can’t find it. If your poem is frighteningly long, you’re free to choose a shorter poem and there’s no harm in doing that. It’s far more ambitious to adapt a 150-line poem than a 10-line poem, so my advice would be to pick a shorter poem unless you wrote it yourself. And yes, it has to be the whole thing.

  35. Will there be a way we can see everyone’s submissions, besides just the winners?

    • There’s a possibility that we can arrange honorable mentions, but we can’t display everyone’s pictures. There would be too many for it to work.

  36. WOW so excited!!!! Not going to send a photo but still very cool………

  37. When doing this competition must you have a camera like Nikon, Canon, etc. or can you just use your phone, though it might not be as high-quality?

    • You can use anything you want, really. A good photographer doesn’t need a good camera to take a good picture.

  38. I’m planning on entering, and was considering entering a double-exposure photo, done completely in-camera. I’m afraid it might get disqualified though, since it looks like an effect added in post production. Is there a way to note that my photo is in-fact done in-camera or should I just choose a different, single-exposure photo to be safe?

  39. Wow, this looks fun! I’ll definitely do this! Even though I know nothing about photography!????????

  40. I have a question how do I put my photo in the form???

    • You simply upload your picture in the designated place. You just click “Upload” then choose the picture you want to submit from your computer.

  41. can you be any age to do this because im in 4th grade and submitted

  42. I submitted mine!!! Good luck everybody!!!

  43. Wouldn’t it be great if we the clay editors narrowed the photos down and then had us vote??

    • Unfortunately no, we’re not going to be putting this up to a vote. However, the senior editors will be helping me with the judging so my voice is not alone. Involving the contestants in the process of voting as well would also kind of defeat the point of the competition, so it’s best to keep the judging within a group that is not participating in this competition.

  44. IMPORTANT NOTE #2: Hey guys, thank you so much for participating in this competition, and, from what I can tell, you’ve all done a good job. If you haven’t submitted your picture yet or think that it’s now too late, don’t panic: April 6 is merely a reference date, so you have until the end of April 6 to submit your picture. I will not receive any more submissions beyond April 7 at 8:00 a.m. (GMT/UTC 0, or UK time), unless you make me aware of any technical issues you may have had.