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The deadline for the 2011 World Press Photo contest is approaching rapidly. January 13 at 23:59 European Central Time is the final cut off but in order to make a submission you have to have first obtained a username and password which has to be requested online by 7 January 2011. If previous year’s experience is anything to go by, it is best to be loading pictures to the online submission weeks beforehand rather than at the last minute when the servers tend to get overloaded.

The world’s largest press photography competition, it is open to professional photographers and photojournalists from all over the world. The 2010 competition saw 101,960 images submitted by 5,847 photographers representing 128 different nationalities.

Winning a World Press Photo award is to photojournalism what winning an Oscar is to the movie industry. The winning images form part of an exhibition that travels to over 100 locations in some 45 countries and is viewed by about 2.5 million people.

While there is extensive participation from all over the world, the number of entries from Africa is proportionately low. It would be wonderful to see a significant increase in the number of photographers and photojournalists from Africa who participate as well as a greater geographic spread from photographers from every nation on the continent. Submissions can be made in French, English and Portuguese. So if you are considering it, read the advice from Chairman of the 2011 Jury, David Burnett, and go for it. Who knows, you may be the first photographer from your nation to win an award.

In 2011 submissions can be made online on the World Press Photo website. Remember to sign up for a username and password by January 7.