2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions

The National Wildlife® Photo Contest is open to all photographers worldwide who are at least 13 years of age, except employees and board members of NWF, their immediate families and individuals living in the same household as such employees and board members. NWF reserves the right to verify, in its sole judgment, entrants eligibility. Entrants 13 to 17 years of age must enter only the youth category, Young Nature Photographers, and must obtain verified parental or guardian consent. Participants 18 years or older must register as a general entrant and are prohibited from entering the youth category.

No, we invite photographers from all over the world to enter.

Yes, students age 13-17 are eligible to enter the National Wildlife Photo Contest through our partnership with Eco-Schools USA. Please see our photo contest page for educators and students for further information.

Opens: January 13, 2021

Closes: March 28, 2021

NWF anticipates notifying winners by mid-October 2021. A selection of the winning photographs and honorable mentions will be published in the December 2021–January 2022 issue of National Wildlife® magazine, which comes out in mid-November 2021. All winning images will be published on the magazine's website.

Your entry fee helps support NWF's work to protect wildlife and wild places. Prizes are made possible by the entry fee; no NWF funds are used for these prizes.

One Grand Prize, one Portfolio Prize, eight First Place prizes and eight Second Place prizes will be awarded as listed below. All amounts are in U.S. dollars. The Youth category prizes will be paid to consenting parent or guardian on Youth Entrants behalf.

  • Grand Prize: One winner receives the Nature’s Witness Award, a cash prize of $5000 and a Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 Lens ($1399 value), with thanks to Tamron, proud supporter of the 2021  National Wildlife Photo Contest.
  • Portfolio Prize: One winner receives a cash prize of $750
  • First Place: One winner for each of the eight subject categories receives a cash prize of $500
  • Second Place: One winner for each of the eight subject categories receives a cash prize of $250
  • Honorable Mentions: Each will receive a certificate of distinction and National Wildlife Federation calendar

All winning images will be published on our web sites and promoted throughout NWF's social media channels.

Photographers may enter images into the following first eight categories. General entrants may enter all images in a single category or select different categories for different photos. The same photo cannot be entered in more than one category, except for in the Portfolio category. Photos entered as part of a Portfolio can also be submitted individually into other categories. Judges reserve the right to switch images to other categories. Youth entrants must enter images into the youth category, Young Nature Photographers.

  • Birds: Portraits and behavior
  • Mammals: Portraits and behavior
  • Baby Animals: Portraits and behavior of young animals of any species
  • Other Wildlife: Portraits and behavior (includes underwater life, reptiles, amphibians, insects, spiders, macro and more)
  • Landscapes & Plants: Scenic views and plants from backyards to wild places
  • People in Nature: People enjoying the outdoors or connecting with nature and wildlife
  • Mobile: Nature, wildlife and people outdoors photographed with a mobile device (phone or tablet)
  • NEW Portfolio Category: A submission of up to 10 images built around a common theme related to nature and conservation
  • Young Nature Photographers: For photographers age 13-17

A submission of up to 10 images (five minimum) built around a common theme related to nature and conservation. Themes could be broad and general, such as documenting a wildlife behavior or conservation issue, or as specific as a series capturing a particular animal, plant or wildlife characteristic. Please do not enter an unrelated assortment of your best pictures (such as “mammals”) as your submission should be built around a unifying theme.

Consider these criteria:
  • Are each of your images individually strong?
  • Does your collection of images feature a unifying theme?
  • Is the theme carried throughout in the portfolio in a consistent way?
  • How does your work take a unique approach to the subject matter?

Photos entered as part of a Portfolio can also be submitted individually into other categories.

This public competition will open on January 13, 2021 and close May 2, 2021. Anyone thirteen (13) years of age and older can vote by registering with a name, email address, and creating a password. Voters must agree to the rules for voting by checking the appropriate box. Photo Contest entrants can use the same credentials to log in and vote.

All the photos displayed in the gallery are allowed to be shared via social media and are eligible for voting. Voters can vote once per single photo, for as many photos as they wish. Voters may return to the public gallery to vote as many times as they wish for the duration of the People’s Choice Award contest using your registered email and password.

Entry Step-By-Step

Click here to download.
(After the download, the PDF entry guide may be in your "Downloads" or "My Downloads" folder in your computer.)

Questions About Entries

Technical requirements: Camera-made digital images or scans of slides or prints must be uploaded as jpg files. There is a maximum file size of 50 megabytes per image. Images should be in either sRGB or RGB format.

What photos qualify: We are looking for striking color and black and white images of nature—on land, in the air and beneath the water’s surface—from anywhere in the world. These images may show animal behavior, portraits of wildlife in natural habitat, plant life, natural landscapes, or people interacting with nature.

"Upload" is to select an image from your computer and send it to the photo application/entry page and complete relevant information about the photo. "Submit" is the final stage to send the image to be judged. Please note that photos are not actually entered into the contest or made viewable by others or sharable until you submit your entry and it shows 'Accepted' on your Entries & Payment page. Submitted entries cannot be edited or deleted.

To replace an incomplete image you don't want, and it has not been submitted, click on the image's Entry Title and replace it with a new description and upload a new image. After a photo has been submitted, it will be marked 'Accepted' and it can not be edited nor deleted. However, if an entry has not been submitted, it will be marked as either 'Incomplete' or 'Complete' and photo information can be edited and categories switched. Please do not delete the first entry associated with the entry fee or the account will show an unpaid balance.

Do not include photographs of pets or domestic animals. Images of captive animals photographed in game farms or roadside zoos, or animals from these facilities photographed elsewhere with handler’s control, will be disqualified.

Captive animals photographed in major zoos, wildlife research facilities or rehabilitation centers are acceptable. Clearly label these animals as captive in the Subject box when uploading and provide details in the Story box.

Human-made objects (such as roads, bird feeders, wildlife signs, etc.) may be included in a photo as long as that object was in the environment as you took the photo, and not added to the image digitally after.

There is no time limit as to when a photo was taken to be eligible for the National Wildlife Photo Contest.

Previously published photos may be entered; however, please include information on when and where the photos appeared. Winning photos from other competitions may also be entered, but include the name of the contests and the years they won. Such information is informative only and will not influence judges’ decisions.

Yes. Acceptable adjustments are: color, contrast, brightness and sharpness; removal of dust and scratches; cropping; black and white conversions; and use of HDR (high dynamic range), where multiple exposures of the same scene are combined for a greater tonal range. Not acceptable are photo composites (combination of two or more photos, not of the same scene); the addition, duplication, deletion or moving of objects in the photos; or the use of artistic digital filters and effects. Examples of artistic filters and effects are watercolor, neon glow, posterizing, stained glass, and others which do not show the scene in its natural way.

Yes. Your photo can be watermarked. It is recommended that the watermark not interfere with the scene of your photo.

Each photo entered into the National Wildlife Photo Contest is automatically entered for the People’s Choice Award, viewable in the gallery for voting by the public and sharable with family and friends through social media. If you do not wish to enter your photo into the People’s Choice Award contest, at time of entry the appropriate box must unchecked for each photo in the submission form. Unchecking this box means your entered photo will be seen only by National Wildlife Photo Contest judges and not available for viewing in the public gallery.

This public competition will open on January 13, 2021 and close May 2, 2021. The photo with the top votes at the end of the people’s choice voting period will be named the People’s Choice Award winner, and a selection of top vote-getting images will appear in the December 2021–January 2022 online issue of National Wildlife and be promoted through NWF’s social media channels. You can promote your entered images on social media by using the Share button at bottom left of each thumbnail.

Registering or Reseting User ID and Password

Technical Difficulties Uploading Photos

No, you may upload some of them and then return to the upload more at a later time. After a photo has been submitted, it will be marked 'Accepted' and it can not be edited nor deleted. However, if an entry has not been submitted to be judged, it will be marked as either 'Incomplete' or 'Complete' and photo information can be edited and categories switched.

You may enter as many photos as you wish at the below photo-entry package rates. Only check and money order will be accepted. Please do not send cash. Make payment out to National Wildlife Federation. Send mailed or shipped entries to National Wildlife Photo Contest, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston, VA 20190, USA.

  • Enter up to 15 photos for $25 (BEST VALUE, includes free one year digital subscription of National Wildlife)
  • Enter up to 10 photos for $20
  • Enter one photo for $15
  • Enter one photography portfolio for $20

Each photograph must be numbered and accompanied by a completed submission form. Please do not send a cover letter. Negatives, transparencies or digital files must be available for all prints, but please do not send them until contacted. Prints may be mounted, but print and/or mount size must be no larger than 11x14 inches. Sandwich prints between cardboard, wrap with a rubber band and enclose in a mailing envelope. Do not use tape.  Receipt of packages cannot be acknowledged and packages will not be returned. Download the submission form:

First and foremost, save a backup of the originals. Software such as Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Microsoft Office Picture Manager will help you resize and save copies of your images. Look for resize or adjust size in the menus. There are also a number of online resources for resizing photographs.

Accepted entries cannot be deleted. Images that have the status of either "Completed" or "Incomplete" can be deleted or modified. To modify an entry, navigate to your Entries & Payment page and click on the entry's title to open its Photo Details page and replace old photo information and upload a replacement photo, then resubmit it as a new entry.

There are a few indicators on your Entries & Payment page.

  • Accepted: Denotes a successful submitted image. Entry cannot be edited or deleted.
  • Completed: Denotes entry needs to be submitted to the judges by clicking on the “Submit” button, this will turn the status to “Accepted”.
  • Incomplete: Denotes the entry’s application form is not completely filled out, click on the entry’s title to open and fill out missing information on the Photo Details form.  Then Submit the entry to be accepted.
  • Instead of deleting an incomplete image you don't want, click on the image's Entry Title and replace it with a new upload.

Didn't find your questions here? Please do not hesitate to contact us.

 


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