If you're a serious photographer—or just an average one who got lucky—you might want to consider entering some of your shots of national parks in one or more of the following photo contests.
Prizes range from nice to impressive, and one competition is nationwide, while two others focus on specific parks. The deadline for the national contest is almost upon us, so if you're ready for a break from other holiday activities, try taking a look at those favorite shots from a recent trip to a park. Maybe you have a winner, just waiting to be discovered.
The heavy hitter in the following list is the "Share the Experience 2008 Official Federal Recreation Lands Photo Contest," sponsored by Olympus and the National Park Foundation.
All photographs must be taken on lands managed by one of the five Federal Recreation Agencies between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008. The participating Federal Recreation Agency Lands are: National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the New Melones Reservoir site of the Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Forest Service. Photos taken in State Parks do not qualify.
The winning photo will become the featured image on the 2010 Federal Recreational Lands Pass, and the photographer will claim some pretty impressive prizes, including a five-day, four-night trip for four to a federal recreation land area of the winner’s choice (excluding American Samoa and Guam), plus an Olympus E-3 digital single lens reflex (SLR) camera kit.
There are also nice prizes for the second through fourth place winners, but there are some tradeoffs. Be sure to read the complete list of rules and entry instructions, since entering this contest basically signs away your future control over the use of all submitted photos. The deadline for on-line entries is 11:59 p.m. EST on December 31, 2008. All mail-in entries must be postmarked by December 31, 2008 and received by the close of business on January 8, 2009.
If you'd like something a little lower key, and you have some good shots taken in Colorado National Monument, here's another option.
Cooperating Associations are valuable, non-profit partners with parks across the country, and the Colorado National Monument Association publishes an annual calendar featuring a variety of images taken in the monument. Twelve full-page photographs are required for the calendar, as well as approximately 30 smaller grid images, and the organization is running a contest to find the best images. You'll find complete details about this contest on their website.
“Payment” for the use of your image(s) will be ten calendars for one or more full-page picture and five calendars for one or more smaller grid picture—not to exceed ten. Photographers will be given credit for their photographs in the calendar. These would make great gifts and you'd have the satisfaction of being credited with helping a very worthy cause.
Finally, if you've visited Zion National Park and have a great photo from that park, you might be interested in a contest sponsored by the East Zion Tourism Council. Prizes include four nights lodging and two nights dining, golf, a jeep tour, and other items in the vicinity of the park.
Entries are accepted until April 7, 2009, and all you give up is the option for the contest sponsors to display your photos on their website for one year without any form of compensation. My attorney, if I had one, would probably advise me to note that I don't have any first-hand knowledge of this group, which is basically a tourism promotion organization for the Zion region.
Many of us enjoy photography during our trips to the parks, and you may have a possible winner in your collection. These and similar contests are usually annual affairs, so even if you don't yet have a shot to rival Ansel Adams in your current collection, keep these opportunities in mind during your future park travels.