National Wildlife Photo Contest FAQ

General Questions

Who is eligible?

The National Wildlife Photo Contest (NWPC) is open to all photographers worldwide who are at least 13 years of age, except employees and Board Members of the National Wildlife Federation (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, entrant eligibility.

There are two divisions:

  • General — open to ALL photographers at least 18 years of age
  • Youth — photographers ages 13 to 17

Youth division entrants must read and accept the Youth Agreement and have their parent or legal guardian also agree by checking the appropriate boxes on the Youth Agreement page. Young photographers 12 and under, please enter our Ranger Rick Photo Contest.

Is your competition limited to U.S. residents?

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

What are the contest dates?

To Enter Your Photos:
Opens: April 1, 2014
Last Day: July 14, 2014

Voting - People's Choice FIRST Round
Opens: April 7, 2014
Closes: July 21, 2014

Voting - People's Choice FINAL Round

Opens: July 22, 2014
Last Day: August 4, 2014
Winner Announced: August 5, 2014

Why do I have to pay to enter?

Your $20 per 10 photo set fee helps support NWF's work to protect wildlife and wild places.

Photos are not actually entered into the contest, or eligible for the People’s Choice Award, made viewable by others or sharable, until the contest fee is paid.

If the fee for each set you create is not paid by the deadline of July 14, 2014, any uploaded photos in that set will not be entered into the contest or made viewable or sharable.

How does donating my images work?

If you wish to donate any of your images to the National Wildlife Federation for use in furthering its mission, please check the appropriate box for each image during uploading.  Donor warrants that his or her entry materials are original, do not infringe on any third party’s rights, and that participant has obtained any necessary permissions from any third party if a third party or third party’s property appears in the photograph. Donors retain ownership of their photos to use them as they wish, and grant NWF, its subsidiaries, affiliates and partners an irrevocable non-exclusive license to reproduce, publish, circulate or otherwise use the photographs howsoever in any medium now in existence or to be established, throughout the world in perpetuity.  NWF greatly appreciates all image donations.

What are the contest prizes?

All Winners and Honorable Mentions will appear on NWF’s website at  NWF will also select and publish certain Winners and Honorable Mentions from any category in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of National Wildlife. NWF will send two copies of that issue to the entrants whose photos are published in it.

Grand Prize
A trip for two to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada where you can see and photograph polar bears

First Place
8 total — one for each category plus one in Youth Division
Cash Prize of $500

Second Place
8 total — one for each category plus one in Youth Division
Cash Prize of $250

Honorable Mentions
NWF 2015 calendar (value: $15.99 each)

Questions About Entries

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.

What images are excluded?

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.

Can I enter photos that have been published elsewhere?

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.

Is there a time limit on when the photo was taken?

No, we accept photos taken any time.


Entrants’ submissions must not infringe on the rights of any other photographer or person and entrants must not submit images that involve the willful harassment of wildlife or damage to the environment by the photographer.

May I crop and adjust the color of my photo?

Yes. Acceptable adjustments are: to 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.

May I watermark my photo?

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

View the complete Contest Rules here.

Technical difficulties registering

After I registered, I did not receive an email with the link to activate my account.

The email with the link to activate your account is emailed within minutes of your registration, but it could take up to a few hours for the email to be processed and delivered by your email provider. You may also want to check your spam folder. If you never receive your activation email, contact us here or email

Your system is not accepting my credit card information.

Check to be sure that all required fields are properly filled out. If you continue to have problems, please contact us at

Technical difficulties uploading photos

After selecting an image to upload, a yellow dot appears and continuously blinks. Has my image loaded?

The yellow dot indicates that your photo is loading. When you see a green dot and a thumbnail of your photo appears, it has finished loading. A continuously blinking yellow dot could be due to a very large file size, heavy traffic on the site causing slowed response time, or (rarely) server trouble. Please try again in a little while. If trouble persists, please contact us here or email

A message indicates that my session has timed out while I'm uploading photos.  What should I do?

Please try again. Many times this is the result of too many entrants uploading photos at the same time. This can occur in the final days of the contest.  Do not wait until the final days to enter!  If you continue to have problems, please contact us here or email

Do I need to upload all of my images in one session?

No, you may upload some of them and then return to the upload more at a later time.  After registering, you will be given a link that will allow you back into your upload page at any time through the contest deadline.  You will be able to add and delete images, edit details about them and switch categories.  You can even create new sets at different times. 

May I mail you my photographs?

No, all photos must be entered in the contest via our website: If you cannot create digital image files yourself by scanning your photos, they can be easily converted by visiting your local photo store.

I am new to uploading images.  How do I resize my photos?

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.

Why do my images look bad in thumbnails? 

This often stems from how the photos were prepared.  Please read through our Tips on Preparing Your Photos.

Voting Questions

How does the People’s Choice Award work?

If you wish to have your entered photos eligible for the People’s Choice Award, viewable for voting by the public and sharable with family and friends through social media, you must check the appropriate box for each entered photo. Not checking this box means your entered photos will be seen only by the judges.

Why did votes for my images go to zero?

The first round of the People’s Choice Award consists of weekly contests where the four (4) photos with the most votes each week are selected as top vote-getters. All weekly contests start on Mondays and all the photos entered and shared (by clicking the appropriate box) are eligible for voting, except photos entered by any entrant who already has a top vote-getter. Each week the votes are reset to zero for the next round of voting.

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