Are you a nature and wildlife photography enthusiast? Participating in a photography competition can help you improve your skills and showcase your work before others.
Most of us may think of competition as bad, but it is indeed a double-edged sword. If you’re all about winning, it’s better to avoid competition because it will put undue stress on you. But, if you want to study the work of others, appreciate them, and learn from them, competition can be an excellent tool to gain skills—not to mention the financial benefits.
Here are a few annual competitions to help you get started.
1. National History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the creme-d la-creme of all wildlife photography competitions. The prestigious competition by the UK’s National History Museum has been around for nearly six decades.
To enter the competition, you must pay the entry fee of £30 (approx. $36). The fee is in place to cover the various costs related to the competition and the exhibition. However, residents of certain countries may be exempt from the entry fee.
There is a strict set of rules that your images must adhere to enter the competition. You cannot harm or manipulate the animals in any way while taking photos. Also, you must keep your post-production to an absolute minimum—no adding or removing stuff from your photos.
You can submit your images in JPEG format with at least 1,920 pixels at the longest dimension. You must produce the original RAW file to check the edits if you qualify for the final round.
The title winner gets £10,000 ($12,000), a trophy, and a certificate. Other category winners get monetary prizes and a trip to the award ceremony in London.
2. Sony World Photography Awards – Wildlife and Nature
The next on our list is the Sony World Photography Awards, a popular competition for all types of photographers. The competition has different categories, including Wildlife and Nature for nature aficionados.
There is no entry fee to the competition, but you can buy additional image bundles if you want to submit more photos. You can submit your images in two categories—professional or open. You must submit a set of pictures for the professional category and single images for the open category. There are also youth and student competitions.
The photos you submit must be taken within a specific timeline, usually the year before. The professional category winner gets $25,000, while the open category winner gets $5,000. The winners also get Sony digital equipment and a trip to the awards ceremony. We do love a good Sony mirrorless camera.
3. Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
If you are a fun wildlife photographer who wants to start a discussion about conservation in a lighthearted way, this is the competition for you. As the name suggests, the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards celebrates the humor in the natural world through funny pictures and laugh-out-loud videos.
The competition is entirely free for all levels of photographers, from novice to expert. However, each photographer is allowed only ten entries. The winner gets the title, a trophy, and two camera bags.
Are you more fan of the avian world than terra firma? Then, check out the Bird Photographer of the Year competition. You have eight different categories to enter, plus special categories like portfolio, conservation, and video. Here are some tips for getting started with bird photography.
There is an entry fee starting at £10 ($12) for one image to £60 ($72) for 50 shots. You can submit as many photos as you want. There are strict rules, though—you cannot use live baits and domesticated or captive birds.
The title winner gets £5,000 ($6,000), while other category winners get different cash prizes and Olympus gear.
Nature Photographer of the Year is a relatively new competition. Starting six years ago, NPOTY has gained momentum in recent years. To participate, you have to pay an entry fee of €29 ($31) for standard submissions and €17 ($18) for portfolio submissions.
The overall winner gets €3,000 ($3,200), and the category winners each get €500 ($532). When you participate in the NPOTY competition, you also support various conservation agencies, including Photographer Against Wildlife Crime.
You can also submit high-resolution smartphone photos, provided they are at least 3,000 pixels on the long side.
The World Nature Photography Awards is an independent organization that aims at using photography as a tool for change. The competition is currently in its fourth year.
The entry fee is £30 ($36) per entry, and you can submit six images. You can buy more entries if you want to submit more photos. The winner gets a prize of £1,000 ($1,203).
W/N/P/A will plant a tree for every entry, so your entry fee will go to a good cause.
7. National Wildlife Federation Photo Contest
The National Wildlife Federation Photo Contest is a long-running competition with nine categories to enter. You can buy different entry packages from $15 for one image, $20 for 10, and $25 for 15 photos. Also, you can buy a portfolio package for $20.
The grand winner gets $5,000, while the first and second-prize winner gets $500 and $250, respectively. In addition, some selected images will also be published in the National Wildlife magazine.
8. Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest – Natural World
Running for over 20 years, the Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest is a must-do to expand your skills and get recognition. There are six categories but only one Natural World category for entering wildlife and nature photos.
There is no entry fee; you can submit 15 photos per category. If you win the title, you get $2,500 plus various prizes. The category winners get $500, and an additional Reader’s Choice winner will get $500.
Join a Nature Photography Competition to Boost Your Confidence
With tiny smartphone cameras packing a punch, photography is more accessible than ever before. But, if you’re using it only to take snapshots, it is time to change that.
Of all the photography that you can try, nature is the easiest to start with. So, take time to learn more about taking pictures and participate in competitions to discover different styles and showcase your work.
Most of the competitions are happy to accept smartphone photos. So whether you use your mobile phone or have state-of-the-art camera gear, try a photo competition this year. It can be so enlightening and fun.