Photo by 2016 Grand Prize Winner, Garret Suhrie

FORESTS: They’re not only the source of life for millions of species — including us! — but have also been an inspiration to artists throughout human history. It’s impossible to deny the awe-inspiring majesty of a forest when you find yourself immersed in one, but capturing that beauty isn’t always easy. Are you up for the challenge?

This year, we’re hosting our third annual Forests in Focus photo contest with the goal of recognizing photographers who uniquely highlight the magnificence of these wooded wonders and the wildlife and people that inhabit them.

Contest Dates

The 2017 Forests in Focus photo contest submission window is now closed. Winners will be announced in the fall.

What We’re Looking For

The contest is open to amateurs and professionals. Photographers must be the ones to submit the photo(s), to which they own all rights. This year, we are taking entries for the following categories:

  • Forest Landscapes
    • Description: 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 of the forest can you capture?
  • Big, Beautiful Trees
    • Description: 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.
  • Forest Wildlife
    • Description: Managing to capture wildlife in action is the mark of a true photographer! These images could aim to paint nature as it lives in the wild. Past winners truly portray the emotion of the moment.
  • Forest Recreation
    • Description: One of the best parts of forests is that we get to walk through them! This category is for stunning photos of humans interacting with forests.
  • Vibrant Cities
    • Description: When you stop to really look for them, you can find trees all over our cities. This category is for people who can really capture the intermingling of nature in our cityscapes — from roots poking out of sidewalks to vistas of pristine city parks.
  • Aspiring Photographers
    • Description: 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 ages 13-17; see below for additional details.)

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 5 category guidelines. Photos must be in digital format, taken at the highest resolution possible — at least 300 dpi.

Need inspiration? Check out last year’s winners!

Selecting the Winners

A panel of judges will select one Grand Prize winner, six Category Winners and up to three Honorable Mentions. American Forests’ editorial staff will choose 10 photos to upload to Facebook and Instagram, where followers will vote on their favorite photos. The photo with the most combined likes after the designated voting period will be awarded People’s Choice. Prizes for each selection are below and will also include products from some of our amazing partners.

  • Grand Prize (1)
    • Photo featured on the cover of a 2018 issue of American Forests’ award-winning magazine.
    • Highlight in photo essay in the Winter/Spring 2018 magazine issue.
    • Photo featured in gallery on
    • Feature in Loose Leaf blog post.
  • Category Winners (6)
    • Highlight in photo essay in the Winter/Spring 2018 magazine issue.
    • Photo featured in gallery on
    • Feature in Loose Leaf blog post.
  • Honorable Mention (up to 3)
    • Photo featured in gallery on
    • Feature in Loose Leaf blog post.
  • People’s Choice (1)
    • Photo featured in gallery on
    • Feature in Loose Leaf blog post.

Winners will be announced to the public in fall 2017 and contacted personally beforehand.

Photo Release

By participating in this contest, all entrants grant American Forests a non-exclusive, non-transferable 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 indefinitely. Nothing in the granting of this use conveys any intellectual property rights to American Forests, which will not reproduce, distribute, sell, license, assign, transfer or convey to any person, business or corporation any of the requested materials provided.

Aspiring Photographers Category

All entries, including those for the Aspiring Photographers category, should follow the submission directions above. American Forests adheres to the Yahoo Terms of Service (see: 3. YOUR REGISTRATION OBLIGATIONS) in regards to minors entering the contest. The parents or guardians of photographers who make it to the final judging round will be notified and asked to fill out an additional form for the contest, which is required for those students to move on in judging.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about the contest, your entries, the prizes or anything else, please email us at

Good luck!