2021 Forests in Focus

Photo contest now open

Home/AF News, Media Release/2021 Forests in Focus: Photo Contest Is Now Open

2021 Forests in Focus: Photo Contest Is Now Open

The 2021 Forests in Focus Photo Contest has ended. Winners have been notified and will be announced publicly in early June.

American Forests’ annual photo contest is an opportunity to showcase a wide array of forest scenes — from large wilderness areas to city parks — that are just as beautiful and diverse as the people who live among, enjoy and depend on them. Images submitted should convey the powerful role these forests play in making our world more beautiful, healthy and prosperous.


The 2021 Forests in Focus photo contest is accepting submissions in the following categories:

Forest Landscapes

These images could be views of vast wilderness or highlight the intricacies of the forest floor, ultimately showing the wonder of forests. This category definitely focuses on depth: How many aspects or layers of the forest can you capture?

Big, Beautiful Trees

Photos in this category should strive to depict the essence of a big, beautiful tree, displaying the splendor to be found in breathtaking trees. We particularly love towering, old, gnarled ancients — though we’re definitely open to up-and-comers, too.

Forests and People

One of the best parts of forests is that we get to experience them! This category is for stunning photos of humans interacting with forests in rural or urban areas, through recreation or work.

Forest Wildlife

Managing to capture wildlife in action is the mark of a truly skilled and patient photographer. These images depict nature as it lives in the wild and our urban forests. Previous winning photographs have allowed us to feel part of a moment.

Cityscapes Splendor

This category focuses on images that depict the intermingling of nature in our cityscapes — from roots poking out of sidewalks to vistas of pristine city parks to scenes that creatively illustrate life where urban meets nature.

Forest Close-Ups

Focusing on the smallest details sometimes reveals a larger truth. Photos in this category concentrate on up-close shots and tight framing to capture the beauty and wonder of our forests in a personal way.

Nature as Art

Sometimes beauty lies in surprising places. Sometimes it takes a certain eye to find it. Creativity is the key to this category, which seeks photographs that depict nature in inventive ways.

Aspiring Photographers

Are you an aspiring photographer in high school? Or do you know one? This category is for the next generation to show that they’re truly ready to take on the world. (Category is open to students in grades 9 through 12; see below for additional details.)


“Desert Canvas” by Everett Bloom, Grand Prize winner of the 2018 Forests in Focus contest.

The contest is open to amateurs and professionals. Photographers must be the ones to submit the photo(s), to which they own all rights.

You can submit up to 3 photos per category and 10 in total. Those entering the Aspiring Photographers category can enter 5 photos, which should be based on the other 7 category guidelines. Photos must be in digital format, taken at the highest resolution possible — at least 300 dpi. American Forests employees are not permitted to submit entries.

All entries must be submitted by 6pm EST on Friday, March 5, 2021.

Need inspiration? Check out our 2018 winners!

How to Enter

The 2021 Forests in Focus Photo Contest has closed for submissions.

  • On the pop-up, click the “Start Uploading” button.
  • Enter your full name and email address* in the respective fields. In the “What are you uploading” field, please enter “Photo Contest”.
  • In the file uploader, drag and drop or browse your computer files for the photos you wish to enter. To enter information for each photo, please select the circle to the left of each individual photo before adding your Metadata. In the right-hand section titled “Metadata,” please enter the following information:
    1. In the “Description” field, enter a detailed description of your photo, and the category for which you are entering it.
    2. In the “Creator” field, enter your desired photo credit.
    3. In the “Date Created” field, enter the date the photo was taken.
    4. In the “Location” field, enter the location at which the photo was taken.
    5. Click the green “Upload” button.
    6. When the upload is 100% complete, click the “Finish” button.

Entrants will receive an automated confirmation email once their photos have been submitted.

Deadline: All entries must be submitted by 6pm EST on Friday, March 5, 2021.

*All entrants must enter their email address in order to be contacted should their submission win. All entrants will be automatically added to American Forests’ email distribution list but can unsubscribe at any point.

Selecting the Winners

A panel of judges will select one Grand Prize winner, one winner for each of the eight categories and up to four honorable mentions. Also, American Forests will choose four photos to upload to FacebookInstagram and Twitter, where followers will vote on their favorite photos. The photo with the most combined likes after the designated voting period wins the People’s Choice award. Prizes for each selection are below and will also include a one-year American Forests membership and products from some of our amazing partners.

Grand Prize (1)

Category Winners (8)

  • Highlighted in photo essay to be published in the summer 2021 American Forests magazine.
  • Photo featured in gallery on americanforests.org

Honorable Mention (up to 4)

  • Limited mention in photo essay to be published in the summer 2021 American Forests magazine.
  • Photo featured in gallery on americanforests.org.

People’s Choice (1)

  • Photo featured in gallery on americanforests.org.
  • Photo featured in Last Look in the summer 2021 issue of American Forests magazine.

Winners will be announced to the public in spring and contacted personally beforehand.

Cubby Hole by Dave Shaffer

“Cubby Hole” by Dave Shaffer, winner of the wildlife category for the 2018 Forests in Focus contest.

Judging Criteria

Photos will be scored based on the following weighted criteria: 1. originality (30%); 2. technical quality (30%); and 3. artistic merit (40%). Photos with the highest cumulative score in their respective categories will take home the prize.

Photo Release

Scale by Stacy Smith Evans

“Scale” by Stacy Smith Evans, winner of the Forests and People category for the 2018 Forests in Focus contest.

By participating in this contest, all entrants grant American Forests a non-exclusive, non-transferable, indefinite license to use, publish and/or display the selected photos on American Forests’ website and social media channels, in American Forests magazine, and/or any other media resource extending beyond the duration of the photo contest. This authorization extends to all languages, media, formats and markets now known or later discovered.

Aspiring Photographers Category

All entries, including those for the Aspiring Photographers category, should follow the submission directions above. For minors entering the contest, a parent or guardian must sign and submit the form linked below giving permission for the minor to participate. Please upload the form along with your photos or email it to info@americanforests.org.

Download the Form

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the contest, your entries, the prizes or anything else, please email us at info@americanforests.org.

January 22nd, 2021|Categories: AF News, Media Release|