Teen Portrait Competition

Are you between the ages of 13 to 17? Live in the U.S.? Make art? 

If you answered “yes” to those questions, you can enter a photographic portrait in the National Portrait Gallery’s Teen Portrait Competition.  

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has opened the “call for entries” for its 2022 Teen Portrait Competition. Artists between the ages of 13 and 17 may submit a photographic portrait to the juried competition via email: NPG-TeenPortraitCompetition@si.edu . The deadline for submissions is March 29th 2022. The two grand-prize portraits will be printed and displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in 2022. 

Local teenagers designed the competition for their peers under the supervision of the museum’s education department. The competition was designed to introduce teenagers to the concept of representing identity through portraiture. 

“Our main goal for this project is that it be ‘for teens, by teens,’” said Rebecca Kasemeyer, director of Audience Engagement for the National Portrait Gallery. “We want the competition to be available to all teens.” 

Entry applications will be submitted via email, and the grand-prize winners and finalists will be chosen by the National Portrait Gallery. The jurors for this competition will include the Teen Museum Council, Curator of Photographs Leslie Ureña, Education Specialist Irina Rubenstein, and guest jurors.

The competition accepts submissions of photographic portraits only, though digital editing is allowed. Entrants should email their portrait as a JPEG attachment and include their first name, last name, school grade, and zip code in the body of the email. Two winners will be chosen: one in the 13- to 15-year-old category and one in the 16- to 17-year-old category. The two winning portraits will be displayed in the museum, in the Summer of 2022, outside The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today exhibition. The portraits by the winners and finalists will be featured on the National Portrait Gallery’s website. 

More information about entering the competition is available at https://npg.si.edu/learn/teens. Additional questions can be sent to NPG-TeenPortraitCompetition@si.edu .  

Rules and Requirements 

  • To enter, a teen must be between the ages of 13 and 17 on the day of entry.
  • It is free to enter.
  • Teens must be residents of the United States.
  • Submissions are accepted only via email. Submissions must be emailed to: NPG-TeenPortraitCompetition@si.edu . Entrants should email their portrait as a JPEG attachment and include their first name, last name, school grade, and zip code in the body of the email.
  • Submissions must be the teen's original work alone.
  • Submitted portraits must include the likeness of a person. It may be a traditional, representational portrait or it may be a more experimental portrait, but it must be based on the teen's direct contact with any living individual(s). Self-portraits will be accepted. The only medium accepted for this competition will be photography.

Entry Instructions

Submission must be electronic to the juried competition. Portraits will be judged electronically and must be photographs that can be sent electronically.
Limit: one entry per person.
Submissions are accepted only via email.
Submissions must be emailed to: NPG-TeenPortraitCompetition@si.edu

Who May Enter

The competition is open to all teens between the ages of 13 and 17 on the day of entry, who are legal residents of the United States or its territories with an address in the United States at the time of the competition. Employees, volunteers or interns, Regents, and members of advisory boards of the Smithsonian Institution and their respective immediate families (children, siblings, and spouses), employees or immediate families of the judges (see below), and their respective agents are not eligible. Winners and their parent or guardian may be required to execute a publicity release and affidavit of eligibility or provide proof of eligibility as a condition of accepting the award.


The Smithsonian will award 2 prizes total: 1 grand prize to entrants in each of two age groups 13-15 years old; 16-17 years old. 

Grand prize: The Smithsonian will print, frame, and display the grand-prize-winning portraits at the National Portrait Gallery during the spring of 2022 (dates to be announced). The Smithsonian will exhibit the grand-prize-winning portraits in the online exhibition. The grand prize winners will receive a $250 Visa gift card. The Smithsonian reserves the right to substitute prizes of similar value, and in the event of a dispute, to award or not award prizes in its sole discretion. All taxes are the responsibility of winners.

Finalists: The finalists’ portraits, along with the finalists’ names, age/grade levels, and artist’s statements will be displayed on the National Portrait Gallery’s website in the online exhibition.


Winners for the grand prize will be selected by the Smithsonian based on input from a panel of judges that comprises the National Portrait Gallery’s Teen Museum Council; National Portrait Gallery Education Specialist Irina Rubenstein; and guest jurors. In the event of any dispute or question, the decisions of the Smithsonian shall be final and binding.

Rights, Permissions, and Releases

Ownership of all portraits submitted for the NPG Teen Portrait Competition, including copyright, will remain the property of the teen who submitted the portrait, but it is a condition of entry that entrants grant to the Smithsonian, each, an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide right to use and reproduce the submitted portrait(s) in the medium of photography along with the teen’s name and age/grade level in connection with the Teen Portrait Competition and other standard museum uses. This includes display of the portrait at the Smithsonian and in related communications, publicity, programming, and websites. Standard museum usage further includes other Smithsonian exhibitions, educational programs, publications (e.g., articles, blogs, books, exhibition catalogues, reports), Smithsonian databases, scholarship, distribution to the public on Smithsonian and third-party platforms on which Smithsonian maintains a presence (e.g., websites and social media) for nonprofit purposes, and related publicity and promotional materials (including paid advertising). The entrant of the Teen Portrait Competition agrees that the name and image as it is incorporated into the portrait may be used at any time in the future and that no further permission is required.

By submitting a portrait in the medium of photography, entrants represent that it is the entrant’s own original work.

Winners and finalists must provide a written model release for Smithsonian use from the subject. Winners and finalists will be provided with a form for this purpose and given 2 weeks to return it. Failure to return an appropriate, signed model release may result in disqualification.

Teens further acknowledge that the portrait and artist’s statement submitted, along with identifying information such as name, age, and hometown or school, may be displayed publicly at the National Portrait Gallery and online. Collection and use of personally identifiable information from teens or their parents and guardians will be done in accordance with the Smithsonian Privacy Policy  
The Smithsonian reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify anyone it determines to be tampering with the competition or acting in violation of the Rules of Entry. The Smithsonian shall not be responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of the Internet or any website, including injury or damage to those entering the competition or to any other person's computer related to or resulting from participating or downloading materials in this Portrait Competition. If, for any reason, the Teen Portrait Competition is not capable of running as planned, the Smithsonian reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the Teen Portrait Competition.