A White-tailed Ptarmigan sits atop a rock overlooking mountains and a valley. The bird’s back faces the camera, and its head is turned to the side, showing the viewer its profile. The bird’s brown and white feathers look similar to the pattern of the green lichen covering the rock.
Audubon Photography Awards

2023 Official Contest Rules

White-tailed Ptarmigan. Photo: Liron Gertsman/Audubon Photography Awards/2022 Professional Winner

2023 Official Contest Rules

 

Entry Period

Audubon’s 2023 Photography Awards Contest (the “Contest”) begins on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at 12 p.m. (noon) Eastern Time (ET), and ends on Wednesday, March 01, 2023 at 12 p.m. (noon) ET (the “Contest Entry Period”). Entry into this Contest constitutes your acceptance of these Official Rules.

Sponsor

National Audubon Society, Inc., 225 Varick Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10014.

Who May Enter

Audubon’s 2023 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. Participants between the ages of 13 and 17  years old must have their parent/legal guardian’s permission to enter, who must complete the participant’s registration on behalf of the child whether using the Online or Mail method of entry as detailed herein. 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) are not eligible to participate.

Division Categories

Eligible individuals (the “Entrant” or “You”) may submit multiple Photographs/Videos that depict birdlife in any form to one of the following five 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 have earned $5,000 or more in the 2022 calendar year producing or selling photographs.

2. Amateur: You must be 18 years of age or older as of the date of Submission, and have earned no more than $4,999.99 in the 2022 calendar year producing or selling photographs.

3. Youth: You must be 13 to 17 years of age as of the date of Submission and have the permission of your parent/guardian to enter the Contest .

4. Plants for Birds: You must be 13 years of age or older as of the date of Submission, and your Photographs must include birds interacting with 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. If you are between the ages of 13 and 17 years of age as of the date of Submission you must have the permission of your parent/guardian to enter the Contest.

5. Videos: You must be 13 years of age or older as of the date of Submission, and your Videos must depict birdlife. If you are between the ages of 13 and 17 years of age as of the date of Submission you must have the permission of your parent/guardian to enter the Contest.

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 any of 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, Fisher Prize, and Female Bird Prize are all special commendations and can be awarded to any image entered in one of the four Divisions for Photographs. You may also submit Videos to the Video Division regardless of having entered Photographs in the first three Divisions, and regardless of your status as Professional, Amateur, or Youth.

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 the original file is acceptable. That includes:

● cropping

● 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 moderate reduction of image noise

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

● HDR frame stacking

● stitched panoramas

● 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 Sponsor to disqualify any Submission is final.

Eligible Videos

To be eligible to win a prize, all submitted Videos 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 “Video”). Video captured by digiscoping (holding a mobile phone or digital camera to a spotting scope) is allowed. Normal processing of the original file is acceptable. That includes:

● Minimal cropping (cropping works best if shooting in 4k)

● Minor adjustments to color, white balance, exposure, saturation, contrast, sharpness

● Removing sound (audio is optional)

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

● Editing clips together

● Watermarks

● Vignetting

● Adding audio from another clip

You will be required to provide Audubon with the original Video file and additional information (generally within 7 days). Failure to provide more information may result in the disqualification of the Video at Audubon’s sole discretion. Any entrant that contacts a judge (not the general contest email account) while the competition is open or during the judging phase may be disqualified. The decision by the Sponsor to disqualify any Submission is final.

Ethical Bird Photography and Videography

Audubon encourages every photographer/videographer to practice responsible bird photography/videography. Prior to submitting any Photograph/Video, you must read Audubon’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography and Videography. A Photograph/Video that appears to the Sponsor 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/videographer

● birds at nests taken with wide-angle or macro lens

● beach-nesting birds, including but not limited to solitary flightless chicks and adults brooding, feeding, or incubating chicks, where the photographer’s/videographer’s distance appears to be closer than approximately 25 yards

● 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/filmed by or with drones

● birds photographed/filmed 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.

● birds photographed or filmed using playback of bird call recordings

Judges will consider focal length, crop factor, species, and other variables to decide whether a shot was ethically obtained.  Judges’ decisions are final.

How to Enter

There are two ways to enter the Contest. However, you may submit Photographs/Videos by one method only. If you submit Photographs/Videos both online and by mail, only the Submission received by Audubon first will be eligible to be judged. You may, however, submit multiple Photographs/Videos 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 www.audubonphotoawards.org; b) Select the Division for which you meet all eligibility criteria; c) Fill in the required personal information for Step 1; parents/legal guardians of Youth Entrants must complete this step on behalf of their child and  grant permission for the Youth to participate; d) Follow the instructions to upload your Photograph/Video Submissions; and e) Complete the payment information and make the required payment, per Photograph/Video Submission (all such uploaded Photographs/Videos, together with the mailed Photographs/Videos described immediately below, collectively referred to as the “Submission”). Entry fees in the Professional, Amateur, Plants for Birds, and Video divisions are $15 per Photograph/Video.  Exceptions: (i) No payment is required for Submissions to the Youth Division or to the Plants for Birds and Video Divisions for Entrants who are 13 to 17 years of age; and (ii) Audubon on Campus student affiliate (an “Affiliate”) members and ambassadors may use the promo code provided by his/her Affiliate (a “Promo Code”) to receive a $10 discount on the Submission. Use of a Promo Code by any participant who is not a member or ambassador of an Affiliate may result in disqualification of such participant and all of his/her Submissions, whether submitted with the Promo Code or not. Entry fees help support Audubon’s conservation mission.

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 at least 3000 pixels wide (for horizontal Photographs) or 3000 pixels tall (for vertical Photographs); 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 Photographs 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.

Videos 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 50 megabytes; c) Be 1920 by 1080 or 1280 by 720 px; d) Be an .MP4 file (preferred) or .MOV file; e) Have a frame rate of 24 fps or higher; and f) Be  3 to 30 seconds in length. You must also fill in all information boxes, including where the Video was shot and any additional caption information. Note that additional information you provide at entry, such as the camera, equipment, location of Video, subject of Video, and the story behind the shot, while interesting, will have no effect on a Video’s score.

2.  Mail: To enter by mail, you must: a) Visit www.audubonphotoawards.org, 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, or in a .txt or .doc file on a USB key for Videos, as described on the Mail Entry Form; parents/legal guardians of Youth entrants must complete this step on behalf of their child and to grant permission for the Youth to participate 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 Videography; and d) Mail the completed Contest Mail Entry Form along with all Photographs/Videos to: Audubon Photography Awards, 225 Varick Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10014, Attn: Luke Franke. 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 March 01, 2023, and be received by Audubon no later than March08, 2023; b) Only prints may be submitted, and they must be at least 5 x 7 inches but no larger than 8 x 10 inches. Digital files of Photographs 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., Blue Jay 2). Each Photograph must be d) 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.

Videos submitted by mail MUST meet the following requirements: a) Mail entries must be postmarked no later than March 01, 2023, and be received by Audubon no later than March 08, 2023; b) All Video Submissions must be on a USB key; c) Each Video must be accompanied by the following information: your first and last name, mailing address, email address (optional), bird species’ name, location where the Video was shot, and the camera equipment used. If multiple Videos are submitted for a single species, Videos should be referenced numerically (e.g., Blue Jay 2). Each Video must: d) be numbered to correspond with the number associated with that Video on the Mail Entry Form, if applicable; e) be no larger than 50 megabytes; f) be 1920 by 1080 or 1280 by 720 pixels; g) be an .MP4 file (preferred) or .MOV file; h) have a frame rate of 24 fps or higher; and i) be 3 to 30 seconds in length. No CDs or USB keys received by mail will be returned. Once a Video is received by mail, you will not be able to retrieve, change, remove, or exchange the Submission.

Judging

Judging will be conducted by a panel of photography/videography and bird experts to be appointed by the Sponsor. Judges will score eligible Photographs and Videos using the following criteria: a) Technical Quality (33 percent); b) Originality (33 percent); and c) Artistic Merit (34 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 to the highest-scoring Photograph from the Youth Division; e) One Plants for Birds Prize to the highest-scoring Photograph from the Plants for Birds Division; f) One Female Bird Prize to the highest-scoring Photograph depicting a female bird across all Divisions; g) One Fisher Prize to the Photograph with the highest score in the Originality and Artistic Merit criteria only across all Divisions; e) One Video Prize to the highest-scoring Video from the Video Division.

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/Video to rank the Photographs/Videos. The Photograph/Video 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, Female Bird 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/Videos are still tied for a prize category, the Sponsor will assemble a separate panel of judges who will review the tied Photographs/Videos using the above criteria. The decisions of the Judges and the Sponsor will be final. Winners will be contacted and confirmed by U.S. mail, email, and/or telephone on or about May 27, 2023.

Prizes

There are eight Prizes available to be won: one Grand Prize, one prize in each of the five Divisions, one Female Bird  Prize, and one Fisher Prize. (Grand, Professional, Amateur, Youth, Plants for Birds, Video, Bird Female Prize, 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. Video Prize: $2,500 USD

6. Bird Female Prize: $1,000 USD

7. Fisher Prize: $1,000 USD

8. Youth Prize: Six days at winner’s choice of one (1) Hog Island Audubon Camp for Teens during the 2024 season. If  Youth Prize winner will be age 18 at the time of the camp, they may choose the Costa Rica Teen Camp or another Hog Island Audubon Camp session for which they are eligible. 

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 2024 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 Youth Prize will not be awarded.

The total ARV of all Prizes available to be won: $20,500 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 a 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. Sponsor 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 Sponsor’s 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 the entrant with the next-highest scoring Photograph in that Division may be deemed the potential winner for such Prize.  

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 the 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. Youth Prize winner 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 to redeem any portion of prize during the scheduled date and time, the