Wild Ones Photo Contest Rules & Guidelines

Who can participate?

Eligibility to enter this contest is limited to Wild Ones members (whose membership is and will remain current during the contest) and employees of Wild Ones business and affiliate members. Household memberships include everyone who lives within the same household. Wild Ones employees, members of Wild Ones national board of directors, photo contest 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. In addition, only photographers who earn less than 51 percent of their income from photography may participate in this contest. By submitting a photo to Wild Ones, you represent to Wild Ones that you are eligible to enter this contest.

Entry Period

Entries for the 2024 Contest will be accepted from 12:00 a.m. CT on Monday, July 1st through 11:59 p.m. CT on Friday, August 30th, 2024. Entries submitted before or after the Entry Period will not be eligible.


Living Things – Photo must feature both native flora and fauna, which may include pollinators, human subjects and non-pollinator wildlife. Plants and wildlife must be native to the United States or Canada. (Category Entry Limit: 3 Photos)

Landscapes – Photo must feature native plants and natural landscaping around a private residence, buildings or facilities as part of the subject. Examples might include home yards, community centers, village squares, local schools, libraries, etc., that are landscaped using native plants. Emphasis must be on the natural landscaping but include some element of a man-made structure. (Category Entry Limit: 3 Photos)

Seasons: Winter – Subject of the photo must feature an aspect of native woodland, savanna, prairie, and wetlands during the winter season. Photo may include landscaping amenities such as stone walls and sculptures, and wildlife as part of the natural landscape, but these objects should not be the central focus of the photo. Emphasis must be on the natural landscape in the winter or dormant season. (Category Entry Limit: 3 Photos)

Events – Photo must feature both native flora and at least one human subject to demonstrate a connection between the person/people and the native plants that occur at public Wild Ones events. (Category Entry Limit: 3 Photos)

Additional Rules

  • Submitting a photo for this contest signifies your acceptance of all the rules and guidelines of this contest, including the items within the separate Intellectual Property, etc. paragraph below.
  • The subject of all entries must be native plant species, native species landscape, or native plant ecology found in the USA or Canada. Be sure the plants are true natives and native to where the photo was taken. A native plant species is one that occurs naturally in a region, ecosystem and/or habitat, and was present prior to European settlement. A photo of a nativar, hybrid or cultivar of a native plant as the main subject is not acceptable.
  • All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (removal of dust, cropping, reasonable adjustments to exposure, and contrast, etc.) will be disqualified. This includes color modifications, artistic vignette, modifying saturation, or any other filters.
  • Entries must be submitted as a .JPEG, .jpg, or .png file. No physical photos will be accepted.
  • All digital files must be 6MB (megabytes) or smaller and must be at least 1,600 pixels wide or tall. 
  • Please rename your digital file to include your full name, the title of the picture that you used on the entry form and the 4 digit contest year. Example:  John-Doe-Monarchs-at-Play-2024.jpg
  • No name, title, date, or text is to be on the photo itself.
  • A photo may be entered in only one category. Wild Ones reserves the right to reassign entries to proper categories.
  • Each qualified entrant must adhere to the limit of 3 entries per category.
  • Entrants may only win first place in one category but may place second or third in multiple categories.
  • Photo entries must not have been entered in any previous Wild Ones Photo Contest and must not have been published as a winner in any other photo contest.
  • Photo entries must have been shot within three years of current year’s contest.
  • Photo entries must have been shot by the contest entrant.
  • Winning photographs may be published in the Wild Ones Journal and on social media, crediting you as the photographer.
  • Photos that involve harassment of wildlife, damage to the environment by the photographer, or putting animals or humans in danger are ineligible. Wild Ones shall determine entry eligibility in its sole and absolute discretion.
  • Photos that contain sexually explicit, nude, obscene, violent, or other objectionable or inappropriate content are ineligible, which Wild Ones shall determine in its sole discretion.
  • Photo entries that do not conform to the contest categories listed above or to the other requirements of this contest, and photo entries submitted by persons who are ineligible to participate in this contest will be disqualified.
  • Entrants must be at least 18 years old by the start date of the entry period of the contest.

How to Enter

All image files must be no larger than 6MB, in .jpeg or .jpg format, and must be submitted via the online entry form. Please do NOT submit entries by email. Each photo entry will need to be submitted on a separate web form. You must include the following information for each photo that you submit:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Chapter
  • Title of the photo
  • Category in which you are entering the photo
  • Place where the photo was taken
  • Name of native flora, fauna, fungi, algae, etc. in the photo
  • Detailed caption of the subject matter
  • Equipment used to take the photo

Judging Criteria

Prior to judging, photos will be reviewed to ensure the inclusion of true native plants. Entries will then be judged by one or more persons who in Wild Ones sole opinion have sufficient expertise. Here are some of the points the judge(s) will consider, bearing in mind that mission focus, the presence of native plants, authenticity and correct category will carry the most weight:

Wild Ones Mission: Consider how your entries fit in with the mission of Wild Ones. If the subject of your photo is an insect or other wildlife, be sure that the photo also includes a reasonable amount of emphasis on native plants or natural landscaping. Otherwise, the photo has nothing to do with the mission of Wild Ones.

Native to the Area: Are you sure the subject of your photo is a true native to the area where the photo was taken? If a plant is not native to your area, even if you take a photo of it growing in your yard, the photo will not be acceptable.

Authenticity: The goal of the contest is to gather beautiful digital images of native plants, natural landscapes and related subjects. Photos that have been altered beyond reasonable optimization, such as cropping, exposure, contrast, and color adjustments and heavy digital manipulation, will be disqualified. However, high dynamic range (HDR) images that are made of multiple exposures or focus stacking where multiple images are combined into a single image to increase depth of field, are acceptable. The judging committee reserves the right to determine if images meet these requirements.

Category: Does your photo entry conform to the category? Considering the category descriptions, does the photo include and emphasize the required subjects?

Composition: Be sure that the composition of your photo is interesting enough to attract attention and show off the subject of the photo.

Color: If your entry is a color photo, be sure that the colors look true to life without any distracting color cast. Unless you deliberately shot the photo for a certain effect, it’s best that the photo has a normal color balance.

Creativity Matters: Keep in mind that creativity is important. A straight-ahead, perfectly exposed, and tack-sharp photo of a coneflower may display the flower very well for identification purposes – but another photo of the same coneflower taken from a different angle, with different lighting, and maybe with the background blurred out, may show the flower “in a new light.” And it’s this new light that photo contest judges often look for and reward.

Sharpness: Is your photo appropriately sharp and in focus? It’s not necessary (or even possible or desirable sometimes) for every part of every photo to be sharp and in focus but be sure that the parts of your photos that should be sharp are sharp and in focus.

Exposure: Is your photo properly exposed? Is there detail in the highlights and the shadow areas? Is it too dark or too light? Unless you deliberately shot the photo for a certain effect, it’s best that the photo has a normal balance of light, dark, and contrast.


The judge(s) will evaluate all valid entries and pick one Best of Show winner who will be awarded a $75 prize. First place winners will be awarded a $75 prize in the following categories (Living Things, Landscapes, Seasons: Winter, and Events.) After the initial judging, the photos will then be displayed on Wild Ones website and members will be invited by email to vote for their favorite photo to determine the People’s Choice Award who will also be awarded a $75 prize. In October 2024, all winners will be announced, and their photos will be posted on Wild Ones social media, by email, and on the Wild Ones website. Wild Ones will notify winners via the contact information they provided at the time of entry. You will have no claim against Wild Ones if your photos do not win a prize, regardless of the reason.

Intellectual Property, etc.

(a) You certify to Wild Ones as follows: You are the sole photographer of the photos you submitted, you alone have all rights to the photos, and you did not receive any help to create the photos.

(b) You give Wild Ones permission to reproduce, display, and distribute the photos and to use your name, in print and electronically, in any media, publications, and platforms, for the time, duration, educational, advocacy, promotional purposes chosen by Wild Ones, and in connection with Wild Ones collaborations, partnerships, activities, and ventures with third parties, (“Wild Ones Partners”) as determined solely by Wild Ones, without your inspection or approval, including cropping the reproductions and sizing the displays. You do not expect any compensation from Wild Ones.

(c) If the image of any person or of any structure or other thing that is protected by any trademark, copyright, or other property right, appears in your photo, you guarantee the following to Wild Ones: Before you submitted the photo to Wild Ones, you obtained written permission from those persons, from their parents or guardians, or from the property owner, as applicable, allowing use of the photo, by you and by Wild Ones, as permitted by the contest rules. You will send Wild Ones a copy of that written permission when you submit your photo. Wild Ones may reject your photo if you do not submit the written permission or if, in Wild Ones sole opinion, the content of the written permission is insufficient.

(d) You release, and you will hold harmless, defend, and indemnify, Wild Ones, Wild Ones Partners, and the members, employees, agents, and contractors of Wild Ones and Wild Ones Partners, and you will not sue any of them, from and for any and all damages, injuries, claims, causes of actions, and losses, of any kind, including the fees of attorneys, experts, and consultants, occurring in connection with your photos, your other participation in this contest, or use of your photos by Wild Ones or by Wild Ones Partners.

(e) You may not, for any reason or under any circumstance, revoke or change anything to which you have agreed, undertaken, or granted to Wild Ones or Wild Ones Partners by or within these contest rules, even if you do not win a prize or receive any other compensation from Wild Ones, or even if Wild Ones does not publish or otherwise use your photos as provided or contemplated by these contest rules.

(f) You retain all copyrights and all other rights to your photos except as granted to Wild Ones and Wild Ones Partners by these contest rules.

(g) This contest and the rules and guidelines of this contest shall be governed by the laws of the United States and the State of Wisconsin without applying conflict of law rules that would result in applying the law of any other state.

(h) You submit to the exclusive jurisdiction and the exclusive venue of the state and federal courts serving Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and you waive all claims that such jurisdiction and venue is improper or inconvenient.

(i) These rules and guidelines shall not be interpreted in favor of or against you or Wild Ones. Within these guidelines, whenever appropriate under the circumstances: (i) the plural of any word shall mean the singular; (ii) the singular of any word shall mean the plural; (iii) “and” shall mean “or”; (iv) “or” shall mean “and”; (v) “an”, “any”, “another”, or “each” shall mean one, more than one, or all; (vi) “all” shall mean any, one, or more than one.

(j) These rules and guidelines constitute the entire statement of the photo contest rules and guidelines and cannot be changed by anyone. You will disregard any oral or written statement you receive from any source or any person that differ from these rules and guidelines.

Questions and inquiries about contest rules can be e-mailed to [email protected]. Do not submit entries to this email address. All entries must be received via the submission form.