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What is the Dean of Students Photo Contest?

The Dean of Students Photo Contest is an annual, cash-prize contest for BYU students. The contest is an opportunity to showcase students' creative talent and to contribute to the look and feel of the Wilkinson Student Center (WSC). Students submit photos in categories relating to various aspects of BYU student life. The photos are then judged by a panel of students and administrators. The winning photos are hung in the WSC with a brief description and the photographer's name.

Contest Information

  • To submit your photos for consideration, please follow the guidelines below:

    Who is eligible to enter?

    • The participant must be a student currently enrolled at BYU in order to be eligible to enter (i.e. enrolled at the university). 
    • Students who graduate in December are eligible to enter so long as they submit prior to graduation. 

    When to enter?

    • Submissions will be accepted from October 27, 2021 (8am), to January 30, 2022 (11:59 pm).  

    How to enter?

    • Photos must be submitted as jpeg files. 
    • Only one photo per category will be accepted for the 2021-2022 contest. Therefore, each student may submit a total of 5 photos if they choose to submit in each category.
    • Photo submissions must be labeled with the student’s name and category as the file name. For example, if the student’s name is Jay Smith and the student was submitting a photo to the Student Portraits category and one photo to the Student Service category, they should be titled “jaysmith_portrait.jpg” and “jaysmith_service.jpg”. 
    • To submit a photo, click on the “submit here” link above and follow the directions. 
    • Participants should submit a new submission form per photo (up to 5 total).


    • The five categories are listed and explained below in the section labeled "2021 Categories".
    • Students may submit one photo per category.

    Rules and Suggestions for submitted photos:

    • All aspects of the BYU Honor Code must be followed in photo submissions. 
    • Photos should be student focused. Photos do not have to be on BYU Campus or in BYU apparel but should show an aspect of student life. The importance of including a student subject in the photo has increased as the contest has continued to grow. For example, a photo of students hiking is appropriate, but a landscape photo without any people would likely not score as well. 
    • Photos may be edited to a reasonable degree (i.e. color, contrast, lighting, etc.) Drastic alterations (i.e. addition of individuals, removal of significant portions of the photo, etc.) are generally discouraged. 
    • Color, black and white, sepia, etc. photos are acceptable. 
    • Preference will be given to candid photos (except for portraits). 
    • Photos are not required to have been taken within a certain time frame or at a specific location; however, recent photos are preferred. For instance, photos do not need to have been taken within the 2021-2022 academic year or on BYU campus. 
    • Photos from the previous year’s contest may be resubmitted. 
    • All photos should be taken in accordance with COVID-19 related guidelines at the time the photo was taken. 
    • All photos should be taken in a manner that follows best safety practices for the activity. 

    Additional information:

    • For your information, all submitted photos may be utilized by the university for various needs (websites, conference rooms, etc.). 
    • The Dean of Students reserves the right to deny any entry. 
    • Winners will be informed via email and invited to an awards luncheon in March to receive their award. 

    Thank you for your submissions!

  • There will be three cash prize winners (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) and three honorable mentions (4th, 5th, and 6th place) selected from each category. This adds up to 15 cash prize winners total and, if including honorable mentions, 30 total winners in the contest.

    Students can win up to one cash prize (either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in one category), one honorable mention, and the "Best of Show" award.

    The prize values are $475 for 1st in a category, $350 for 2nd in a category, and $150 for 3rd in a category. Because 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place is awarded per category, this adds up to 15 cash prize winners total. The “Best of Show” winner will receive an additional $125 prize.

    For more information on the judging process and the "Best of Show" element, see the section below titled “Judging Process”.

  • All photos submitted by the deadline will be reviewed by a panel of employees and students. Judges will score the photographs in each category according to the criteria noted below:

    1. The photo is compliant with all aspects of the Honor Code. *This criterion is binary, meaning that photos that do not comply will not be considered. This is very rarely an issue. 
    2. The photo matches the feel of a student center (i.e., student-oriented). Photos do not have to be on BYU Campus or in BYU apparel but should show an aspect of student life. For example, a photo of students hiking is appropriate, but a landscape photo without any people would likely not score as well. 
    3. The photo has appropriate exposure. Photos should have ideal brightness, including appropriate levels of detail in both the shadows and highlight areas.  
    4. The photo is not pixelated. Photo pixelation should not inhibit a viewer’s ability to see the content or cause a lower quality appearance in printing. 
    5. The photo has appropriate composition and focus. The arrangement of the forms within the photo should be pleasing to the eye and follow the rule of thirds, unless for a specific artistic reason. Focus should aid in framing the photo with intentional choice of which objects are sharp and which are blurred. 
    6. The photo is relevant to the category. Preference will be given to photos that are more relevant to the category/category description. 
    7. The photo is memorable. Photos should stick out among the submissions. Submissions are encouraged to be artistic, creative, and showcase the photographer’s style. Memorable photos may contain content that is especially beautiful, emotional, thought-provoking, etc. 
    8. The photo follows all the listed submission rules. Photo submissions that fail to follow rules will be disqualified. *This criterion is binary, meaning that photos that do not comply will not be considered. This is very rarely an issue. 

    Photos will be scored on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the highest possible. The honor code and submission rules criteria, which are rarely an issue, are scored on a binary scale, meaning that photos that do not comply will not be considered. After judges submit their scores on a 1-10 scale, the scores for criteria number 2, 6, and 7 will be weighted to be worth 1.5 times as much, as these criteria are particularly important to the contest’s purpose. For example, if a photo was originally scored as a 10 for criterion 6, then that score will automatically be increased to be worth 15 points. Judges will review top photos and break any ties.

    For more information, see the section below titled “Judging Process”.

  • The judging process is intended to focus on how photos capture the student experience. Typically, 3-5 students and 1-3 administrator judges are selected per category and are trained on the criteria. Students who submit photos will be ineligible to participate as judges. Judges score photos based on the criteria listed above. To learn more about the scoring system, read the section above labeled “Judging Criteria”.

    This year we are adding a "Best of Show" element to the judging process. This will occur after judging teams have scored all photos and identified the top 6 photos per category, resulting in a pool of 30 photos. These top 30 photos will be eligible to win "Best of Show." An online survey will be created where students can vote for their favorite 3 photos out of the top 30. The photos in the survey will not be organized by category, but the student's vote will signify their overall top pick. Contestants can expect this part of the process to occur in February. The survey will be advertised through various Campus Life social media channels. The "Best of Show" winner will receive an additional $125 to their other placement award.

    Please see the section above titled “Judging Criteria” for related information.

    The judging process is outlined in the chart below.

2021 Categories

  • Students may submit one photo per category, adding up to five possible submissions total per student.

  • This category includes photos that illustrate the everyday life of a student. Photos should feel relatable to students and may highlight everyday occurrences of student life. The focus of all photos should be students rather than scenery. Consider photos of students at BYU events, students hanging out, on dates, cooking, eating, walking on campus, working, etc.

  • This category includes photos of students serving students, their community, and the world at large, in line with the motto “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.” Photos should highlight student efforts to improve the world around them.

  • This category highlights the diverse backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, life experiences, and perspectives of the student body.

  • This category includes portraits of students. Portraits generally prioritize the head and/or face of the photo subject.

  • This category features photos that capture students adventuring both close and far from home. The focus of all photos should be students rather than scenery. Consider photos of students’ road tripping, sightseeing in a city, experiencing new cultures, enjoying outdoor activities (such as skiing, longboarding, rafting, playing pickleball), etc. All activities should follow appropriate safety protocol for the given activity.

For Additional Information

  • We would love to answer any additional questions you may have.

    • Email:
    • Phone: (801) 422-2731
    • Office: 3500 Wilkinson Student Center

FAQs and Resources

  • Take a look at BYU Photo's "10 Tips for Emerging Photographers:"
    Watch Here
    The HBLL also offers Photoshop classes:

  • The HBLL allows students to borrow cameras, lenses, and other photo equipment at no charge. Visit the link below for more details:

  • Most photos are on the third floor surrounding the Terrace, between Women's Services and Resources and the BYU Store. Additional photos are on the second floor, placed between the CougarEat and the Ballrooms and around the East Lounge.

    Winning photos for this and upcoming years will be placed in available spaces throughout the building.

  • The Dean of Students Office and Wilkinson Student Center Services started the Dean of Students Photo Contest to celebrate the student experience and student art in the Wilkinson Student Center (WSC). In an effort to reduce the amount of random landscape artwork in the building, over one hundred pieces of artwork were removed from the WSC walls in 2017-2018, targeting works that did not relate to BYU or students. This created a need for new artwork/photos and the Dean of Students Photo Contest was started to fill the void.

    Fall semester of 2018 was the first year of the annual Dean of Students Photo Contest. Since then, student participation has contributed to almost one hundred new photos now displayed in the Wilkinson Student Center. We look forward to another year celebrating student work by showcasing photos that embody student life here at BYU.