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How to Win the One Photo Challenge: 3 Key Ingredients to Consider

The One Photo Challenge is now well underway, with the Regular Entry Deadline approaching on April 17th, 2020. This exciting competition invites anyone with an eye for architectural photography to showcase their ability to capture a single photograph that tells a compelling story about architecture and its inhabitants.

Enter the One Photo Challenge

Entrants are tasked with submitting one photograph that powerfully communicates an architectural form or space, capturing the essence of the place and the experience of those that would inhabit it. It can be located anywhere in the world and be at any scale. It can be taken from a wide angle or close up, showing an entire building or just a detail.  As long as your photo portrays part or all of a building or group of buildings, it is eligible. This should be accompanied by a short description of your photograph, no more than 150 words.

Now that you know what we’re asking for, you’re probably wondering what it takes to actually win. The answers lie in the criteria by which the Finalist drawings will be judged by our expert panel of practitioners and thought leaders.

Photo by One Photo Challenge juror Yener Torun

The judging process for the One Photo Challenge is designed to reflect the multi-faceted qualities of architectural photographs. Our outstanding cast of jurors will be asked to select winning entries based on their narrative and aesthetic qualities, as well as their impact and ability to “go viral” on social media and beyond. Entries that stand out in one or more of the following categories stand a great chance of being a Winner.

The Jury will evaluate photographs based on the following criteria:


The most important quality of an architectural photograph is its ability to communicate the design intent and narrative behind a piece of architecture. A good photo will form a visual story about architecture and its surrounding context, revealing something about the lives of those who inhabit it. The image can communicate many different things and focus on one or more of the following aspects: People, light, shadows, mood, atmosphere, weather, spatial layout, details, materials, connections between architectural elements, relationship to context, the transition between spaces, and more.


A beautiful photograph is undeniably appealing, but the aesthetics of a photo are about more than just beauty. They convey the essence of the architecture they are portraying, the atmosphere or emotional power of a space, and a strong sense of place. At its best, a photograph can reveal something about architecture that speaks to the wider cultural, societal, economic or political context of its location. Aesthetics may also concern the portrayal of an untidy, chaotic or even “ugly” brand of architecture that form the reality of certain environments.


When narrative and aesthetics are perfectly combined, they can produce an impactful image that is eagerly shared among a huge design-oriented community. Virality is not an exact science, but Instagram experts understand the bold qualities that make an image memorable and shareable. The ingredients of an impactful architectural photograph include but are not limited to: Bold geometry, unusual angles, rich color combinations, sharp contrasts, rhythmic patterns, movement and strong legibility.

Beijing Daxing International Airport by Zaha Hadid Architects; photo by One Photo Challenge jurors Hufton+Crow

These are the 3 key ingredients behind a winning entry in the One Photo Challenge. So, make sure you’re mindful of these qualities when snapping that shot. Now the ball is in your court: Submit your best architectural photograph before midnight on April 17th and show us what you can do. 

Check out the FAQ section for common questions about the competition. If you don’t find the answer to your question there, please email us at and we’ll be there to help. 

We’re so excited to see what you capture. Good luck from the whole team at Architizer!

Enter the One Photo Challenge

Top image: Photo by One Photo Challenge juror Yener Torun

The post How to Win the One Photo Challenge: 3 Key Ingredients to Consider appeared first on Journal.

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