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Photo by 2017 Grand Prize Winner, Joaquin Baldwin

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. Our annual Forests in Focus photo contest gives contestants the chance to step up to the challenge of uniquely highlighting the magnificence of these wooded wonders and the wildlife and people that inhabit them.

Get your cameras ready, because the fourth annual Forests in Focus photo contest is now live! Find more information on contest details and how to enter below. We can’t wait to see your submissions!

Contest Dates

Submissions for the 2018 Forests in Focus photo contest will be open June 4 through August 31, 2018. Judging will take place after submissions have closed, and winners will be announced in October 2018.

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 must own all rights. This year, we are accepting entries for the following categories:

  • Forest Landscapes
    • Description: Whether it’s a sprawling forest landscape or an incredible grove of sequoias, we want to see your interpretations of how to capture the majestic expanse of our forests.
  • Big, Beautiful Trees
    • Description: There’s nothing quite like a big, beautiful tree – we should know, we hold the National Register of Champion Trees! In this category, we’re looking for photos that will capture these giants from a unique perspective. While we particularly love old, gnarled ancients, we’re open to up-and-comers, too!
  • Forest Wildlife
    • Description: Catching wildlife in action is a unique skill, but one that results in beautiful images of nature as it’s meant to be. Note: Please do not put any animals (or yourself!) at risk when photographing wildlife. We will not accept photos of this nature.
  • Forests & People
    • Description: We love spending time in nature, and we know you do too! We want to see how you enjoy forests — hiking, skiing, exploring with family and other activities!
  • Forest Close-Ups
    • Description: The intricacies of the forest are often enough to take your breath away. In this category, we want to see those little details that you can only find by paying close attention to the world around you.
  • Creativi-trees
    • Description: This is a new category for our artistically inclined photographers. These photos allow artists the opportunity to edit and alter their images for a unique perspective.
  • Aspiring Photographers (Under age 18)
    • Description: For all of our young forest lovers! This category is for the next generation of photographers to showcase and sharpen their skills. (Category is open to those under the age of 18. See below for additional details.)

You may submit up to 3 photos per category and 10 photos total. Those entering the Aspiring Photographers category can enter 5 photos, which must be based on the other category guidelines. Photos must be in digital format. Upon entry, photos should not exceed 1 MB; a high-resolution version must exist — at least 300 dpi.

Need inspiration? Check out last year’s winners!

“After the Fire” by Paul Glasser
2017 Forest Landscapes Winner

“Thanks Mom” by Gary Wittstock
2017 Forest Wildlife Winner

“The Phantom Ship” by Adam Chen
2017 Aspiring Photographers Winner

How to Enter

Participants in the Forests in Focus photo contest must submit all details, including photo files, through the official Google Form. The following fields are required on the form for each photo you submit:

  • Image Name
  • Image File (under 1 MB)
  • Image Details
  • Image Category

*Participants must have a Google account to complete the form and enter the contest. If you do not have an account, please create one here.*


Selecting the Winners

A panel of judges will select one Grand Prize winner, seven 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.

  • Grand Prize (1)
    • Photo featured on the cover of a 2019 issue of American Forests’ award-winning magazine.
    • Array of prizes from American Forests and partners.
    • Highlight in photo essay in the Winter/Spring 2019 magazine issue.
    • Feature in Loose Leaf blog post.
    • Featured on American Forests social media.
  • Category Winners (7)
    • Highlight in photo essay in the Winter/Spring 2019 magazine issue.
    • Feature in Loose Leaf blog post.
    • Featured on American Forests social media.
  • Honorable Mention (up to 3)
    • Feature in Loose Leaf blog post.
    • Featured on American Forests social media.
  • People’s Choice (1)
    • Top contenders featured in Last Look section of Winter/Spring 2019 magazine issue.
    • Feature in Loose Leaf blog post.
    • Featured on American Forests social media.

Winners will be announced to the public in fall 2018 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 contest entrants (including minors) should follow the contest directions above. Parents or guardians of minors entering the contest will be required to provide their information through the official submission form, which adheres to Google’s Terms of Service. If you have any questions about this process, please use the contact information provided below.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about the contest, your entries, the prizes or anything else, please email Emily Barber, Marketing Manager, at ebarber@americanforests.org.

Good luck!