Our growing list of information to make your DFA experience as smooth as possible.

Have a question? Post it below in the comments and we’ll add all relevant answers to the help section.

Facebook support group: We have a dedicated private group for photographers to answer DFA questions and offer technical support. facebook.com/groups/documentaryfamilyawards/

Photo Technical Requirements

  • File Name: First name and last name, all one word, followed by a number sequence. For example jennashouldice01, jennashouldice02, jennashouldice03 etc. The sequence number can reset per category OR be continuous through all your entries.
  • Aspect Ratio: We accept any aspect ratio *Updated*
  • Horizontal Image: Width must be 2000px
  • Vertical Image: Height must be 2000px
  • Square Image: Height and width must be 2000px
  • Cell/Mobile Phone Image: Minimum height or width must be 1000px
  • Image Size: Maximum file size of each photo must be 2MB (2000KB) *Max size has increased*
  • Image File Type: jpg
  • Toning: Color or Black & White only
  • Date: Photos submitted can be from any year
  • No watermarks, text or borders of any kind can be added to the image. (exemption allowed for cell/mobile photos with borders)
  • Resolution: Your photo can be any resolution, as long as it matches the pixel dimensions stated under Horizontal and Vertical image dimensions.
  • If your submitted images do not meet all of our photo requirements they may be disqualified.


Photo Submission Preparation

Lightroom (LR) Users

  • If you have Lightroom CC you can download our export preset designed to meet our upload requirements. DOWNLOAD LR PRESET
  • If you use our LR export template please remember to enter your name in the export process as the file name.
  • Finally, watch the LR video below to see how to import our LR preset, and how to export photos using LR.

Photoshop (PS) Users

  • If you have Photoshop CC you can download our resize action to meet our upload requirements. DOWNLOAD PS ACTION
  • If you use our PS action please remember to enter your name in the file name during the export process.
  • Finally, watch the PS video below to see how to use our PS action and how to export photos using PS.


Q: Is there a special definition of ‘family’?
A: We consider the definition of family to be as broad as you wish.  Subjects in the photographs entered can be any age, any gender, related or unrelated, close family members or distant friends.

Q: Is there is a description of each category?
A: Yes! We have a page with details about each category. Click here

Q: Can I submit photos at separate times or does it have to be all at once?
A: Yes you can submit photos at different times. We highly recommend submitting all of your entries at once. We do have a minimum charge for up to 6 photos per submission if you enter multiple times.

Q: Does not receiving a confirmation email mean that the photos haven’t been submitted?
A: You should receive a confirmation email after successfully paying for your entries. If your payment fails your submission will automatically be cancelled.

Q: Is cropping, straightening or lens correction allowed?
A: Cropping, straightening and lens correction done minimally is ok. If your photo has been cropped significantly or a major noticeable straightening adjustment has been done, it may affect the photo making it through to the final round.

Q: Can I submit any aspect ratio? Such as a square photo or 6×7?
A: Yes. We have removed our previous aspect ratio requirements to be more inclusive of all formats and aspect ratios you may be using.

Q: Can I use presets to tone/edit my photos?
A: We prefer to see photos that have traditional techniques applied such as contrast, curves, color balance, dodging and burning. Photos can be black & white (no sepia) or color. If you have a preset that doesn’t heavily “flavour” the look of your photo then it should be ok.

Q: Can I submit a double exposure?
A: No. Even if it is done in camera we do not accept double exposures.

Q: If my photo matches multiple categories will it be judges in those categories?
A: Each photo submitted will only be judged in the one category you select. You can’t submit one photo to multiple categories.

Q: Can I submit the same photo multiple times?
A: You can only submit a photo once in any given award cycle. If the photo does not place, you can submit it again in the next round.

Q: Can a Business/Studio submit under the business name?
A: Every submission needs to be submitted under one individual’s name, that of the photographer who took the photo(s).  If you work in a collective or for a studio you can add the business Instagram account as the credit.  And of course, we encourage you to share any awards through your business social media or website.

Q: Do you send a confirmation email after a submission?
A: Yes. You will receive an automatic email confirming you have submitted. If you can’t find the auto-response, make sure you check your spam/junk folders.



    • Yes! All photos entered have to be in the jpg/jpeg format. If your photos are not, there are simple conversion apps out there.

    • Great question. For the purpose of our awards we don’t consider the use of grain or noise reduction to be an issue. As long as it is not heavy handed.

  • first time when i tried to submit my photos i was redirect to pay pal page. there it was written, try again. something went wrong. I tried again and it was sucsessfully. I recived letter from you “Thanks for submission”. But i’m not sure that money went to you. I’m worry about my submission.

    • Thanks for letting me know! I have your submission and it has been entered so that is good. I’ll email you directly once I figure out what happened.

  • 在网站点击“输入竞争”后不显示提交入口,或许是本地区网络限制原因,也或许是我所不知的别的原因,请告知是否还有“输入竞争”提交的其他方式?

    • I’ve run your question through Google translate. Hopefully, this is the answer you are looking for!

      Your Question: The maximum size of the photo submitted to increase, what is the requirement now?

      Answer: Yes we have increased the size of the photos allowed to 2MB from 1MB. The dimensions have remained the same at 2000 pixels on the longest side. This change does not affect submissions we have already received. Also if you do submit photos that are less than 1MB that is also great! We just increased the allowed file size to make it easier to submit.

    • At this time, we do not accept self-portraits. It is a great art form but not part of the documentary genre in our opinion

  • Hello, I have a photo I’m thinking of submitting, but it includes the house number on the front of the home. Would I be able to remove the address to protect privacy?

    • That’s a tricky question. Unfortunately we don’t allow manipulation of a photo in that way. Though I understand why you are doing it, it is counter to our definition of a documentary photograph. If you have a different angle or a slight crop that can remove it I would recommend that.

  • Hi, almost all the previous winning/placed photos depict children, although your definition of “family” is very broad, ie people of any age, untelated etc. Do you particularly favour photos involving children?

    • Great question. Our definition of family is broad because we believe that to be the case. Our judges are not asked to make sure most photos have children in them, we only ask they select the very best photos entered. For our first awards, the majority of the best photos happened to be kid-centric hence the results. Over time we hope our definition of family and the photos entered will reflect the diversity we encourage. Does that help?
      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Curious what your stance is on the use of flash for the birth category. I don’t believe I’ve seen it posted anywhere, though I may well have missed it. I was about to finish up entries then realized that I never checked on this… Please advise. Thanks 🙂

    • Photos can be entered with or without flash as long as they are of a documentary nature (which of course the vast majority of birth photos are!). Hope that helps.

    • CORRECTION: File names cannot match so please name your files sequentially regardless of the category you enter. For example, if you are entering two photos, in two different categories, your file name would be like this: FirtnameLastname01, FirtnameLastname02.

    • Hi Andrea, I have updated my answer. Filename numbers have to be different even if they are entered in different categories. Thanks!

  • I am trying to enter with 8 photos and the form thinks I have 15 and is billing me as such for some reason.
    I’ve tried two different browsers, cleared my history and opened up a private browsing page. No luck. It still thinks I’m uploading 15 images. Help!

    • All entries are evaluated by each guest judge. However, we do not send back individual feedback for each entry we receive. I would highly recommend watching the live judging where we discuss in detail what judges are looking for and evaluating in order for a photo to win an award. Every single award cycle will have live judging in an effort to make the process more transparent. Thanks for asking!

    • Good question! We have not restrictions on nudity as a general rule. We do however restrict where work gets shared based on any given platforms terms such as Instagram. Please do make sure you have a full release from the subjects in your photos (especially with nudity) as awarded photos will be published on our website.

    • Thanks for asking John! We are only accepting full colour photos or monochrome (black and white) photos. Does that help?

  • Does the requirement for consent still apply if the photo was taken in a public location in a street photography manner (without the knowledge of the subjects)? Thanks!

      • Photos taken in a public space that are not embarrassing or hurtful to the subjects can be used. By entering them, you do take responsibility for the content of your photos and anyone that is in them. Does that help? Thaks for asking!

  • Is the full consent you mention just for nudity or sensitive content? I was going to submit an image that is street photography, so have no consent. Another is from a friend’s birthday party so would I need the consent of all the kids’ parents? All the rest I want to submit are either my own family or I have my standard model release– is that sufficient?

    • Technically you are confirming that every photo submitted you have the right to do so. For the birthday photos as long as the parents/legal guardians/etc. knew you were photographing them, then it should be ok. Stree photos are great but with these, you are also accepting responsibility for the content and subjects of the photos. This might sound scary but we just want to make sure you know you bear responsibility for your photos even in this contest. I hope that helps? I love that you have a street photo to submit!

  • I take a bajillion photos with my iphone as it’s always with me 🙂
    Would you accept iPhone images as well? Or would/should this be a separate category?
    Thanks for doing this!

    • Yes, high-quality phone images are ok! Please refer to the pixel size requirements for that on the submission page.

    • No. If there are watermarks it removes our efforts to keep judging as anonymous and unbiased as possible.

    • Thanks for the question. You can only submit one photo into one category. There are answers in our FAQ above that should help. There will always be overlap in some photos content but you just have to choose which single category is best for your photo. Good luck!

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