Audubon Photography Awards

2020 Audubon Photography Awards Official Rules

American Dipper. Photo: Brian Knight/Audubon Photography Awards

2020 Audubon Photography Awards Official Rules

Entry Period
Audubon’s 2020 Photography Awards Contest (the “Contest”) begins on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 12 p.m. (noon) Eastern Standard Time (EST), and ends on Monday, April 06, 2020 at 12 p.m. (noon) Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (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 2020 Photography Awards Contest is open to all legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 13 years of age or older as of the date of Submission. Employees of the National Audubon Society, Inc., its officers, directors of its national, state and center boards, judges, 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 four divisions (each a “Division” or collectively the “Divisions”):

1. Professional: You must be 18 years of age or older as of the date of Submission, and earned $5,000 or more in the 2019 calendar year producing or selling photographs.

2. Amateur: You must be 18 years of age or older as of the date of Submission, and earned no more than $4,999.99 in the 2019 calendar year producing or selling photographs.

3. Youth: You must be 13 to 17 years of age as of the date of Submission.

4. Plants for Birds: You must be 13 years of age or older as of the date of Submission, and your photographs must include bird life and identifiable plants (flowers, trees, bushes, grasses), all of which are native to the area in the United States or Canada in which the image was taken.

You may submit Photographs to only one of the first three Divisions (Professional, Amateur, or Youth). You may also submit Photographs to the Plants for Birds Division regardless of having entered Photographs in the first three Divisions, and regardless of your status as Professional, Amateur, or Youth. The same photograph cannot be entered in more than one Division. The Grand Prize and Fisher Prize are both special commendations and can be awarded to any image entered in one of the four Divisions.

Eligible Photographs
To be eligible to win a prize, all submitted photographs must depict birdlife (i.e., contain at least one bird or bird part), and accurately reflect the subject matter as it appeared in the viewfinder (a “Photograph”). Normal processing of original file is acceptable. That includes:

  • cropping, but it is strongly recommended that you not crop more than 50 percent of the original image
  • minor adjustments to color, white balance, tone, lighting levels and curves, shadows and highlights, saturation, contrast, sharpness
  • moderate dodging and burning
  • removal of dust spots and reduction of image noise

Photographs that have been digitally or otherwise altered beyond standard optimization will be disqualified. That includes:

  • HDR frame stacking
  • stitched panoramics
  • images that have been manipulated by the addition, removal, or alteration (painting over, cloning, or blurring) of anything in the original subject and scene that were photographed
  • borders, signatures or watermarks
  • changes in color so significant that the processed colors are widely different from the original colors
  • changes in density, contrast, color and/or saturation levels and dodging and burning that significantly alter content by obscuring or eliminating information in the picture

You will be required to provide Audubon with original image files (RAW, jpg, etc.) in the timeframe provided upon request (generally within 7 days). Judges will determine whether changes to an image are significant enough to disqualify an entry. Failure to provide original files may result in the disqualification of the Photograph at Audubon’s sole discretion. Any entrant that contacts a judge (not the general photo contest email account) while the competition is open or during the judging phase may be disqualified. 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 reflect one of the following situations is not eligible for Submission and, if submitted, will be disqualified at Audubon’s sole discretion. That includes:

  • birds (including chicks) that appear to be stressed or harassed by the photographer
  • birds at nests taken with wide-angle or macro lens
  • birds (including but not limited to hawks, owls, eagles, ospreys, roadrunners) lured with bait. “Bait” includes live animals (such as snakes, fish, mice, crickets, worms), dead animals or parts of animals, processed meat, and decoys such as fake mice.
  • nocturnal birds (e.g., owls, nightjars) taken with a flash at night
  • birds photographed by or with drones
  • birds photographed with a remotely triggered camera that uses a direct flash or for which bait or another lure has been supplied to attract the animal. Setting a camera trap around a fresh kill or cache is generally acceptable, as is the use of a flash with a filter that only lets through infrared light.

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

How to Enter
There are two ways to enter the Contest. However, you may submit Photographs by one method only. 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 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, Amateur, and Plants for Birds divisions are $15 per image.  Except, no payment is required for Submissions to the Youth Division or to Plants for Birds for Entrants who are 13 to 17 years of age. Entry fees help support Audubon’s traveling exhibition featuring winning Photographs.

Photographs submitted online MUST meet the following requirements: a) Depict birdlife (i.e., must contain at least one bird or bird part); b) Be no larger than 35 megabytes; c) Be close to 3000 pixels wide (for horizontal Photographs) or 3000 pixels tall (for vertical Photographs) at 72 dpi; d) Be saved in RGB mode; and e) Be saved in the JPG format. You must also fill in all information boxes, including where the Photograph was shot and any additional caption information, such as the name of native plants in photos submitted to the Plants for Birds Division. Note that additional 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. Please do not send a check with mail-in entries; if a check is included it will be processed as a donation to the National Audubon Society.

Photographs submitted by mail MUST meet the following requirements: a) Mail entries must be postmarked no later than April 06, 2020, and be received by Audubon no later than April 13, 2020; 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 (and, if entering the Plants for Birds Division, plant 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 of photography and bird experts to be appointed by the Sponsors. 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; d) One Youth Prize for the highest scoring Photograph from the Youth Division; and e) One Plants for Birds Prize for the highest scoring Photograph from the Plants for Birds Division. One Fisher Prize will be awarded to the Photograph, across all divisions, with the highest score in the Originality and Artistic Merit criteria only.

No Entrant may win more than one prize. In the event of a tie for any prize, 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 of that prize. If there continues to be a tie after the Artistic Merit scores are compared in determining a Grand Prize or in any single Division, the Judges will compare and rank the Technical Quality scores, and then the Originality scores, in that order. For the Fisher Prize, if there continues to be a tie after the Artistic Merit scores are compared, the Judges will compare and rank the Originality scores. If the scores of the Photographs are still tied for a prize category, 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, 2020.

There are six Prizes available to be won: one Grand Prize, one prize in each of the four Divisions, and one Fisher Prize. (Grand, Professional, Amateur, Youth, Plants for Birds, and Fisher Prizes each referred to as a “Prize” or collectively as “Prizes”). 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. Plants for Birds Prize: $2,500 USD
  5. Fisher Prize: $1,000 USD
  6. Youth Prize: Six days at winner’s choice of one (1) Hog Island Audubon Camp during the 2021 season. If winner will be under the age of 18 at the time of the camp and selects the Arts and Birding (Photography Track) camp, such winner must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian during all Youth Prize trip components. Such parent/legal guardian will also be awarded airfare, ground transportation, accommodations (single room, double occupancy to be shared by winner and parent/legal guardian), camp admission and meals as detailed below.

Youth Prize includes:

  • Round-trip coach airfare from within the United States or Canada to Portland, Maine or to Costa Rica if the Teen Week in Costa Rica camp is selected;
  • Ground transportation to/from the airport/accommodations;
  • Hotel accommodations (standard room, double occupancy) during the program;
  • Three meals a day; and
  • All programs for the chosen Hog Island Audubon Camp. Youth Prize winner may choose from any of the available and qualifying Hog Island Audubon Camps during the 2021 season. Camps are subject to age and possibly other restrictions.

Total maximum ARV of Youth Prize is $3,500 USD. The ARV may vary based upon the camp chosen, dates of travel and point of departure. The difference between the ARV and stated ARV of the Grand Prize will not be awarded.

The total ARV of all Prizes available to be won: $17,000 USD.

Winners will be required to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release of Liability and Publicity (together, the “Releases”), where permitted, or, if winner resides in Canada, a Declaration and Release Form (the “Declaration”), and return the Releases/Declaration, properly executed, to Audubon within seven days of being notified. If winner is a U.S. resident, 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/Declaration 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/Declaration 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 travel documents, including a photo ID and/or passport, as necessary.  Passports may be subject to additional local rules to be valid for foreign travel. Travel is subject to availability and camp dates are subject to change. Trip must be booked at least three weeks prior to the requested travel dates.

All 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. If weather affects the ability of 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 selected camp on the dates specified or the selected camp is cancelled for any reason outside the Sponsor’s control, 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 the 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 and/or passport) 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 2019 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) 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; c) 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; d) No part of the Photograph has been published by Audubon or Nature’s Best Photography, including in Audubon magazine, on any portion of Audubon’s website (, or in Nature’s Best Photography magazine (except photos published by you on Audubon’s social media platforms may be submitted) and, e) 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 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
Winners will be announced on or about July 8, 2020. You may obtain the name and city of residence of the winners by mailing a self-addressed stamped envelope to: 2020 Audubon Photography Awards – Winner’s List, P.O. Box 25466, Rochester, NY 14625-0466. Requests received after August 3, 2020 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.