Help Wildlife with Your Photos

A picture is worth a thousand words. Whether you’re using professional digital cameras, film, smartphones or tablets, you can capture compelling images that will have a profound impact on wildlife. When you enter your photos in the 45th National Wildlife Photo Contest, you’re helping raise awareness about the natural world and inspiring people to protect the wildlife we all cherish.

Our judges are always looking for standout photos, and the winners will be selected based on these judging factors, which are illustrated through some examples below. These factors not only help guide your photography work, they also demonstrate how NWF can use your photographs to protect wildlife and wild places. Take a look at some previous entries to see how you can bring nature to life when you enter the Photo Contest.

Originality Excites

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Birds in the backyard. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Tammi Elbert
Wildlife provides an abundance of chances to take unique, original photographs that highlight the interesting interactions between wildlife species. Thanks to this photographer, Tammi Elbert, from the 2013 Photo Contest, we can imagine an upcoming squabble– or maybe even a friendly exchange about a new food source– between these two birds. Wouldn’t you love to see them in your backyard Certified Wildlife Habitat? I bet other gardeners and birders would, too! You never know when a photo opportunity may arise, so have your camera ready.

Technical Excellence Inspires

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Sunset. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Durand Johnson
My camera certainly can’t take a picture like this! Using the right camera settings and techniques, and knowing about the proper exposure, shutter speed, white balance and depth of field, helps capture an image that could inspire people to act to conserve public lands and wildlife habitats such as this one. Good thing Durand Johnson, from the 2012 Photo Contest knows a thing or two about capturing a technical and compelling picture.

Composition Appeals

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Morning journey of a duck. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Sarah Chah
This entry, from Sarah Chah’s 2013 Photo Contest submission, has great balance from the reflection of the foliage on the water. Balance is often appealing to the eye, so showing nature in such a way draws people to the image and inspires them to go outside. It helps bring outdoor programs, such as NWF’s Great American Campout, to life for past and future participants alike. It’s best to have a clear idea about the composition of your image before you capture it, but sometimes you might find a more striking viewpoint by cropping afterward.

Artistic Merit Wows

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Sunset cave. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Panagiotis Laskarakis
The “wow factor” is a surefire way to grab people’s attention. When you show stunning nature and wildlife at their best, it helps to motivate others to act for wildlife and wild places that could be in peril. This colorful water resource reminds us how important clean water is to all of us. 2014 Photo Contest entrant Panagiotis Laskarakis definitely took advantage of the natural beauty (and great timing!) to capture a lovely sunset over the water from the mouth of a cave. Use photos to wow people into action.

Overall Impact of Your Photo is Priceless

2014 National Wildlife Photo Contest grand prize winner. Photo by Benece Mate
2014 National Wildlife Photo Contest grand prize winner. Photo by Benece Mate
This 2014 grand prize winning image of grey herons in Hungary’s Kiskunság National Park by Benece Mate elicits a variety of emotions – it is awe-inspiring, exciting, and appealing. NWF’s International Wildlife Conservation team works on issues worldwide that impact the wildlife in our borders, and photos like this show that wildlife across the globe all deserve our attention and protection.

Good photographs are made, not taken. Work at your subject, be aware of the background, and anticipate behavior. You could be this year’s winner for wildlife.

Button-Enter-Your-Photos2015_175x26Enter this year’s Photo Contest by July 1st! You’ll have a chance win top honors and prizes and have your work showcased by NWF. You will also protect wildlife by inspiring the world to care and to act.