Audubon Photography Awards

2018 Audubon Photography Awards Official Rules

American Dipper. Photo: Cindy Goeddel/Audubon Photography Awards

2018 Audubon Photography Awards Official Rules

Entry Period

Audubon’s 2018 Photography Awards Contest (the “Contest”) begins on Monday January 8, 2018 at 12:00:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), and ends on Monday April 09, 2018 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST (the “Contest Entry Period”). Entry into this Contest constitutes your acceptance of these Official Rules. 


National Audubon Society, Inc., 225 Varick Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10014, and Nature’s Best Photography, 1930 Isaac Newton Square, #200, Reston, Virginia 20190.

Who May Enter

Audubon’s 2018 Photography Awards Contest is open to all legal residents of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 13 years of age or older as of January 8, 2018. Employees of the National Audubon Society, Inc., its officers, directors of its national, state and center boards, and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings and spouses, regardless of where they reside) or those living in the same household (whether or not related), and employees of Nature’s Best Photography, its officers, directors, parents, affiliates, and advertising agencies associated with this Contest, and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings and spouses, regardless of where they reside) or those living in the same household (whether or not related), are not eligible to participate.

Division Categories

Eligible individuals (the “Entrant” or “You”) may submit multiple photographs that depict birdlife in any form to one of the following three divisions (each a “Division” or collectively the “Divisions”):

1.  Professional: You must be 18 years of age or older as of January 8, 2018, and earned $5,000 or more in the 2017 calendar year producing or selling photographs.

2.  Amateur: You must be 18 years of age or older as of January 8, 2018, and have earned between $0 and $4,999.99 in the 2017 calendar year producing or selling photographs.

3.  Youth: You must be 13 to 17 years of age as of January 8, 2018.

You may submit Photographs to only one Division.

Eligible Photographs

To be eligible to win a prize, all submitted photographs must depict birdlife (i.e., contain at least one bird) and accurately reflect the subject matter as it appeared in the viewfinder (a “Photograph”). Photographs that have been digitally or otherwise altered beyond standard optimization (e.g., removal of dust, cropping, adjustments to color and contrast) will be disqualified. Normal processing of RAW image files or minor adjustments to color and contrast are acceptable. You may be required to provide Audubon with RAW image files in the timeframe provided upon request (generally within 7 days). Failure to timely provide RAW files may result in the disqualification of the Photograph in Audubon’s sole discretion. The decision by the Sponsors to disqualify any Submission is final.

Ethical Bird Photography

Audubon encourages every photographer to practice responsible bird photography.  Prior to submitting any Photograph, you must read Audubon’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography. A Photograph that appears to the Sponsors or Judges to be in violation of one of the following five rules is not eligible for Submission and, if submitted, will be disqualified at Audubon’s sole discretion.

  1. Photographs showing birds that appear to be stressed or harassed by the photographer.
  2. Photographs of birds at nests taken with wide-angle or macro lenses.
  3. Photographs of birds of prey (e.g., hawks, owls) lured with live bait or decoy bait, such as fake mice.
  4. Photographs of nocturnal birds (e.g., owls, nightjars) taken with a flash at night.
  5. Photographs of birds taken by or with drones.

The decision by the Sponsors to disqualify any Submission is final.

How to Enter

There are two ways to submit Photographs to the Contest, but you must submit all Photographs by the same means. If you submit Photographs both online and by mail, only the Submission received by Audubon first will be eligible to be judged. You may, however, submit multiple Photographs over the Contest Entry Period as long as the Submissions are in the same Division and sent by the same method.

1. Online: To enter online, you must: a) Log onto the Contest Website at; b) Select the Division for which you meet all eligibility criteria; c) Fill in the required information and click the continue button; d) Follow the instructions to upload your Photograph Submissions; and e) Complete the payment information and make the required payment, per Photograph Submission (all such uploaded photographs, together with the mailed photographs described immediately below, collectively referred to as the “Submission”). Entry fees in the Professional and Amateur divisions are as follows: $15 per image from January 8 through 11:59:59 AM EST on April 02, 2018; and $20 per image from 12:00:00 PM EST on April 02, 2018 to the end of the contest. No payment is required for Submissions to the Youth Division. Entry fees help support Audubon, including its traveling exhibition featuring winning Photographs and an exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Photographs submitted online MUST meet the following requirements: a) Depict birdlife (i.e., must contain at least one bird); b) Be no larger than 35 megabytes; c) Be close to 2400 pixels wide (for horizontal Photographs) or 2400 pixels tall (for vertical Photographs) at 72 dpi; d) Be saved in RGB mode; e) Be saved in the JPG format; f) If you plan to submit more than one Photograph of the same species, number each Photograph in the title (e.g., Jill_Jones_Golden_Eagle_2.jpg); and, g) Fill in all the information boxes, including where the Photograph was shot and any additional caption information. Note that such additional Photograph information you provide at entry, such as the camera, equipment, location of Photograph, subject of Photograph, and the story behind the shot, while interesting, will have no effect on a Photograph’s score.

2.  Mail: To enter by mail, you must: a) Visit, navigate to the Personal Information page, and download the Contest Mail Entry Form; b) Fill in the required information on the Mail Entry Form and on the back of each Photograph, as described on the Mail Entry Form; c) Select the Division for which you meet all eligibility criteria; d) Check that you have read and agree to the Official Rules and the Guidelines to Ethical Bird Photography; and d) Mail the completed Contest Mail Entry Form along with all Photographs to: Audubon Photography Awards, 225 Varick Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10014, Attn: Jennifer Bogo. Audubon will acknowledge receipt of your Submission only if you provide a verifiable email address on the Mail Entry Form. Confirmation of receipt is not confirmation of eligibility. There is no fee to enter the Contest by mail.

Photographs submitted by mail MUST meet the following requirements: a) Mail entries must be postmarked no later than April 09, 2018, and received by Audubon no later than April 16, 2018; b) Only prints may be submitted, and they must be at least 5”x 7” but no larger than 8”x 10.” Digital files saved onto CDs, DVDs, or any other media will not be accepted by mail; c) Each Photograph must have the following information written on the back or otherwise attached: your first and last name, mailing address, email address (optional), bird species’ name, location where the Photograph was shot, and the camera equipment used. If multiple Photographs are submitted for a single species, Photographs should be referenced numerically (e.g., bluejay 2); and, d) Each Photograph must be numbered to correspond with the number associated with that Photograph on the Mail Entry Form, if applicable.

No Photographs received by mail will be returned. Once a Photograph is received by mail, you will not be able to retrieve, change, remove, or exchange the Submission.


Judging will be conducted by a panel to be appointed by the Sponsors of photography and bird experts associated with Audubon magazine and/or Nature’s Best Photography. Judges will score eligible Photographs using the following criteria: a) Technical Quality (30 percent); b) Originality (30 percent); and c) Artistic Merit (40 percent). Prizes will be awarded as follows: a) One Grand Prize to the highest scoring Photograph across all Divisions; b) One Professional Prize to the highest scoring Photograph from the Professional Division; c) One Amateur Prize to the highest scoring Photograph from the Amateur Division; and d) One Youth Prize for the highest scoring Photograph from the Youth Division. No Entrant may win more than one prize.  In the event of a tie for the Grand Prize or in any single Division, the Judges will use the Artistic Merit score of each tied Photograph to rank the Photographs. The Photograph with the highest Artistic Merit score will be the winner for that Division. If there continues to be a tie after the Artistic Merit scores are compared, the Judges will compare and rank the Technical Quality scores, and then the Originality scores, in that order. If the scores of the Photographs are still tied, the Sponsors will assemble a separate panel of judges who will review the tied Photographs using the above criteria. The decisions of the Judges and the Sponsors will be final.  Winners will be contacted and confirmed by U.S. mail, email, and/or telephone on or about May 21, 2018.


There are four prizes available to be won: one Grand Prize and one prize in each of the three Divisions. Prizes will be awarded only to the person whose name is on the winning entry at the time of Submission. 

  1. Grand Prize: $5,000.00 USD
  2. Professional Prize:  $2,500.00 USD
  3. Amateur Prize:  $2,500.00 USD
  4. Youth Prize:  Six days at Audubon’s Hog Island Audubon Camp (Arts and Birding/Photography Track) on July 8-13, 2018 for the winner and one parent/legal guardian.

Youth Prize includes: 

  • Round-trip airfare from within the United States or Canada to Portland, Maine for the winner and one parent/legal guardian;
  • Ground transportation from the airport in Maine to and from Hog Island;
  • 5-night hotel accommodations (standard room, double occupancy) for winner and his/her parent/guardian
  • Three meals a day;
  • All Hog Island Photography Camp programs for winner and his/her travel companion;
  • Total ARV of Youth Prize is $3,500 USD.
  • Travel companion of Youth Prize winner must be the parent/legal guardian of Youth Prize winner and must accompany winner during all Youth Prize trip components.

Grand, Professional, Amateur and Youth Prizes each referred to as a “Prize” or collectively as “Prizes”

The total ARV of all Prizes available to be won: $13,500 USD.

Winners will be required to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release of Liability and Publicity (together, the “Releases”), where permitted, and return the Releases, properly executed, to Audubon within seven days of being notified. Releases will require the winner to furnish his/her Social Security Number for the sole purpose of tax reporting, as required by law. If a winner is otherwise eligible under these Official Rules, but is nevertheless deemed a minor in his or her state of primary residence, his/her prize will be awarded in the name of his/her parent or legal guardian who must execute the Releases on the minor winner’s behalf. Sponsors may disqualify any winner who fails to respond to the prize notification or fails to return the Releases within the seven-day period and, at Sponsors’ sole discretion, select an alternate winner.  If any Prize or Prize notification is returned as undeliverable, a winner declines his or her Prize, or a winner fails to comply with any of these Official Rules, that winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner may be selected by the Judges using the scoring procedure outlined above.   

Winners are responsible for the payment of any taxes on Prizes.

Prizes will be awarded within 45 days of each winner being confirmed.

Prize Conditions

All expenses related to the acceptance or use of any Prize is the sole responsibility of prize winner.

All travel-related expenses including but not limited to ground transportation to and from home, taxes, gratuities, incidentals, upgrades, insurance, service charges, airport surcharges, luggage fees, departure taxes, resort or property fees, food & beverage and personal expenses such as telephone/Internet charges, and gift shop purchases are the sole responsibility of Youth Prize winner. Winner and travel companion must travel on same itinerary. Youth Prize winner and travel companion must have valid photo ID and any other required documentation.

Travel is subject to availability. Trip must be booked at least three weeks prior to the requested travel dates.

All hotel reservations are based on availability and holidays may be excluded. Accommodations are subject to availability at time of reservation. Blackout dates, advance booking requirements, and travel restrictions may apply. Availability is subject to factors such as weather, seasonality and space availability. Reservations are subject to availability. If weather affects the ability for winner and his/her guest to redeem any portion of prize during the scheduled date and time, then the Sponsors shall have no further obligation to the winner and/or guest other than to supply the remaining elements of the prize package minus the unused portion of prize. If Youth Prize winner cannot attend the Hog Island Photography Camp in June, Audubon may, in its sole discretion, offer Youth Prize winner the opportunity to attend another Audubon camp. If for any reason whatsoever, winner and/or guest are unable to travel after all travel arrangements have been made and paid, the Sponsors shall have no further obligation to the winner. In the event Youth Prize winner's home is in close enough proximity to trip destination, Sponsors may determine in its sole discretion that a flight is unnecessary, and the prize will not include air transportation. If Youth Prize is forfeited prior to Sponsors finalizing and paying for travel, and there is sufficient time to notify an alternate winner, the prize will be awarded to the Entrant who submitted next-highest scoring Photograph from the Youth Division. Youth Prize winner and parent/guardian are responsible for obtaining the proper travel documentation (e.g., valid photo ID) prior to travel.

In the event the Youth Prize winner or his/her guest engages in behavior that, as determined by the Sponsors and in their sole discretion, is obnoxious or threatening, illegal, or that is intended to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person, the Sponsors reserve the right to terminate the trip prize in whole or in part, with no further compensation.

Prizes are not redeemable for cash, except at the sole discretion of the Sponsors. Prizes are non-assignable or transferable. No substitution is permitted except if Prize or Prize component is unavailable, in which case a prize of equal or greater value will be awarded. Any other incidental expenses on Prize not specified herein are the sole responsibility of each winner. Once a Prize has been delivered to the winner’s residence, the Prize is considered awarded.

General Conditions

By submitting a Photograph to the 2018 Audubon Photography Awards Contest, you agree to the following:

1.  You represent and warrant that: a) You are the sole and exclusive author and owner of the Photograph and all rights therein; b) The Photograph has not won any previous awards, prizes or competitions; c) You have the full and exclusive right, power, and authority to submit the Photograph and to grant Audubon and Nature’s Best Photography the rights granted herein, including a worldwide copyright license, upon the terms and conditions set herein; d) No rights in the Photograph have been previously granted to any person, firm, corporation or other entity, or otherwise encumbered such that the prior grant would limit or interfere with the rights granted to the Sponsors herein; e) No part of the Photograph has been published by Audubon or Nature’s Best Photography magazine, including in Audubon Magazine, on any portion of Audubon’s website ( or in Nature’s Best Photography magazine; and, f) No part of your Photograph defames or invades the privacy or publicity rights of any person, living or decreased, or otherwise infringes upon any third party’s copyright, trademark or other personal or property rights.

2.  You acknowledge that: a) Sponsors have the right in their sole discretion to disqualify any Photograph at any time if they determine that the Photograph is offensive, inappropriate, or contrary to the Sponsors’ reputations, or that you or your Photograph have not complied with any of the Official Rules; b) Sponsors are not responsible for misdirected, incomplete, lost, late, undelivered, inaccurate, illegible, or delayed Submissions, for technical, hardware, or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed, incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions, for human, mechanical, typographical, printing, electronic, or network errors, for errors which may occur in connection with the administration of the Contest, the processing of Submissions, the announcement of prizes, or any other errors, any of which may limit or affect your ability to participate in the Contest; c) Sponsors have the right to modify, suspend or cancel the Contest in the event that it becomes infected by a computer virus or is otherwise technically impaired, and to suspend or cancel the Contest in its entirety should tampering, unauthorized access, fraud, technical failures, acts of God or other causes corrupt the administration, security, fairness, or integrity of the Contest. If the Contest is suspended, Sponsors may select winners from the set of all non-suspect, eligible Submissions received up to the date of cancellation using the judging procedure outlined above, or, in their sole discretion, cancel the Contest and decide to award no Prizes; d) You may be disqualified from entering the Contest if it is determined by the Sponsors that you engaged in false or deceptive acts; e) Mass entries generated by script, macro or use of automated devices will be disqualified; f) By entering the Contest, you are not creating a confidential or fiduciary relationship with the Sponsors; g) Sponsors may themselves create other artwork, receive Submissions from other Entrants for this Contest, or receive photographs from third parties in connection with Sponsors’ customary business that are similar or identical to your Photograph in theme, idea, format or other respects.  You waive any and all claims you may have now or may have in the future that your Photographs are substantially similar in theme, idea or format to any photographs or other artwork in Sponsors’ possession; and, h) Sponsors and their designees have the right, unless prohibited under law, to use your name, city and state of residence, voice, picture and likeness, without compensation, notification or approval, for the purpose of advertising and publicizing the Sponsors’ goods and services and publicizing the Contest, in any manner or medium, now or hereafter known, worldwide and in perpetuity.

3.  If any Photograph in your Submission contains any material or elements not owned by you, or which are subject to the rights of third parties, you are responsible, prior to submitting the Photograph, for obtaining any and all releases necessary to permit the use and exhibition of the Photograph in all the manners contemplated by these Official Rules, including, without limitation, permission to use the name and likeness of any person who appears or is identifiable in the Photograph. You may be required to provide proof of these permissions in a form acceptable to Audubon, and if you fail to provide such proof within seven days of request by Audubon, your Photograph will be disqualified. 

4.  You irrevocably grant to each Audubon and Nature’s Best Photography a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual license to use the Photograph in any manner related to the Contest, including all associated use, reproduction, distribution, sublicense, derivative works, and commercial and non-commercial exploitation rights in any and all media now known or hereafter invented, including, but not limited to: a) Audubon Magazine and all Audubon websites and blogs related to the Contest; b) Nature’s Best Photography magazine and Nature’s Best Photography websites and blogs related to the Contest; c) any slideshows, brochures, newsletters, articles, reports, calendars and publications related to the Contest; c) solicitations for the Contest; d) promotions and communications related to the Contest; and e) physical and digital galleries and exhibitions of Submissions, including, but not limited to, exhibitions of Contest Submissions and/or Prize winners at the Smithsonian Institution, or at Audubon offices, centers and sanctuaries.  You may be required to execute any documents necessary to perfect such rights in the Sponsors.

5.  You hereby release Audubon and Nature’s Best Photography, their parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates and divisions, and their respective directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability, loss or damage arising from or in connection with your participation or attempt to participate in the Contest, and/or the awarding, receipt, use or misuse of a Prize or participation in any Prize-related activities; from claims based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy; and from claims based on the infringement of or protection of the copyright in your Submission.

6.  You agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Sponsors against any claims by any third party related to a breach of any of these General Conditions, including, but not limited to, a claim of ownership of any copyright, trademark, or any personal or property rights, libel, defamation, invasion of privacy or right of publicity, or your failure to pay taxes on any Prize. 

7.  The Sponsors and their parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates and divisions, and their respective directors, officers, employees, attorneys, representatives and agents make no warranties, and hereby disclaim all warranties, express or implied, concerning the Contest and any Prize furnished or awarded in connection with the Contest, including, but not limited to, Audubon’s ability to award a Prize due to its bankruptcy, insolvency or failure to continue its business. WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE FOREGOING, PRIZES ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AND THE CONTEST ENTITIES HEREBY DISCLAIM ALL SUCH WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND/OR NONINFRINGEMENT.

8.  If your Photograph is determined by Audubon in its sole discretion to be ineligible at any time during or after the Contest Entry Period, that Photograph will be removed from the judging. If your Photograph is found to have been ineligible after it was awarded a Prize, you agree to return the Prize or the value of such Prize to Audubon immediately following notification of ineligibility. If you are disqualified by Audubon in its sole discretion for a violation of any of these Official Rules at any time during or after the Contest Entry Period, all of your Submissions will be disqualified from the Contest and, in the event that any of your Submissions were awarded a prize, you agree to return the Prize or the value of such Prize to Audubon immediately following notification of disqualification.


Personal information collected from online entries is subject to Audubon’s Privacy Policy, which can be found at; provided, that in the event of any conflict between these Official Rules and such Privacy Policy, the terms and conditions of these Official Rules prevail.

Winner Confirmation

You may obtain the name/city of residence of the winners by mailing a self-addressed stamped envelope to: 2018 Audubon Photography Awards – Winner’s List, P.O. Box 25466, Rochester, NY 14625. Requests received after July 1, 2018 will not be honored.

This Contest is void where prohibited by law. Contest is governed by U.S. law and subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations.