Frequently Asked Questions

The Book:

How will photos be chosen for the book?
Photos will be chosen by photo editors at Smithsonian Books and Smithsonian magazine and select people from the music industry. Photographers will be contacted directly by the Smithsonian.

When will the book be published?
Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen published on October 24, 2017. For more details, please visit the book's page on the Smithsonian Books website here.

Can I order the book?
Yes, Smithsonian Rock and Roll is available anywhere books are sold. You can find out more here.

Photo Submissions:

How many photos can I enter?
You may enter no more than one hundred (100) photographs in each category with a total submission limit of one thousand (1,000) photographs.

I share an e-mail address with another person. Can we both enter under the same e-mail address?
We accept one photographer per e-mail address. You can easily obtain a free e-mail address from a number of sites, including gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail.

How do I submit my photograph?
You can submit your photograph, or a high-quality scan of your photograph, online at We do not accept entries submitted through postal mail.

Do you accept non-digital photographs?
Yes. We accept high-quality scanned images of non-digital photographs. We do not, however, accept hard copies of photographs.

Can I enter if I live outside the United States?
Yes, but photographs must be uploaded by 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, December 1, 2016.

Will negatives and slides, which will be requested of finalists, be returned?
All original negatives, slides and prints will be returned to finalists.

Do I need release forms for people in my photo?
Certain venues and bands welcome photography, but not all do. Only submit images that you own and for which you have the necessary permissions from any persons or entities that own the content and intellectual property rights. By submitting an image and/or story, you represent and warrant that, when taking the photo, you did not break any applicable venue, event, or performer rules against photography or otherwise violate a person or entity’s rights.

Can I enter a photograph if I no longer have the negative?
If a photograph taken on film does not have a slide or negative, it cannot be entered into the website unless you have a high resolution digital scan.

Can photographs be cropped?
Cropped photographs are eligible in all categories.

Can photographs be manipulated or enhanced?
Photographers cannot construct photographs from pieces of other photographs. But minor adjustments, including spotting, dodging and burning, sharpening, contrast and slight color adjustment or the digital equivalents, are acceptable for all categories. If the Smithsonian Rock ‘n’ Roll staff see that the photographer has obviously altered a photo, they have the right to reject it.

When submitting a photograph, you will have an opportunity to describe any adjustments made to the image. Please be as descriptive as possible.

Do you accept black-and-white photographs?
Yes. Also, color photographs changed to black and white are acceptable; however, please make sure that any additional adjustments you make to the image abide by the rules concerning enhancing or altering photographs.

What size should my digital image be for uploading with the online entry form?
Files submitted may not be larger than 10MB. Photo images are viewed on computer screens, which have a maximum resolution of 72dpi. When uploading an image, we require a minimum width of 2,000 pixels. Please retain a high-resolution version of your photograph(s) in your personal files. You will need to have a higher-resolution image on hand, a minimum of 300 dpi and 3,000 pixels on the longest side, to be considered for inclusion in the book.

What if my digital photograph does not have a resolution of 300 dpi, or more, at least 3,000 pixels on the longest side?
Without this requirement, Smithsonian Rock ‘N’ Roll editors cannot consider your photograph for possible inclusion in the book project.

Will you accept photos with watermarks?
We will always display a credit alongside your photo as it appears on the site. We encourage you to remove any watermarks so we can see your photograph without any part covered up. If your photo is selected, we will ask you for a non-watermarked version for inclusion in the book.

Is it OK to enter a photograph that has been on my website?
Yes, your photograph is eligible for submission.

Is there a payment or prize for use of my submitted rock ʹn’ roll photos?
Yes. If an image is selected for use in the book, you will be contacted by the editors.  The photographer of an image selected for inclusion in the book will receive a photo credit in the book, a free copy of the book when it is released in 2017, and a usage fee based on reproduction size.
Is the Smithsonian making money off of my photographs?
The Smithsonian is a non-profit. Any profit generated from the sale of the book funds the Smithsonian’s ongoing work to understand the American experience, value world cultures, unlock the mysteries of the universe, and understand and sustain a biodiverse planet.

I'm 17 years old. Can I enter a photo?
We are sorry, but you will need to be 18 as of December 1, 2016—the final day of submission—to enter a photo.

What rights to my photograph do I retain?
You retain your rights to your photograph; however, by entering your photograph into the website, entrants grant the Smithsonian Institution a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or subsequently developed, for any educational, promotional, publicity, exhibition, archival, scholarly and all other standard Smithsonian purposes. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit as feasible. The Smithsonian Institution will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

Where can I send questions and feedback?
Please e-mail further questions to

Last updated: December 1, 2015