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Share the Experience – U.S. Department of Interior Announces Big Prize Photo Contest

By Lee Sadler on May 21st 2013

The Department of Interior announced a photo contest with a total prize pool of over $33,000 earlier this month.

Mosquito Beach Stormy SunsetSmall

Photo by Steve Perry

We don’t get in the habit of posting photo contests, but I felt that this one was unique in that it’s done by a government body and that the prize money is so high.

The contest began on May 10th and continues until December 31st, 2013.  The images must be taken on national land property, such as a National Park or Forest land, and you can submit up to two images each week.  The contest particularly appeals to Landscape and Wildlife enthusiasts.

The Grand Prize is $15,000 and a stack of goodies (are they seriously including air fresheners in the goodie bag?  Yes.)

Second place prize is $5,000, and Third place prize is $2,500; both come with their own goodie bags.


Photo by Kevin Perez

Be sure to read the fine print.  Photos must be no more than minimally edited (as is fairly standard), cannot have been submitted in another contest, and must have been taken on lands managed by one of the ‘Recreation Agencies’ – National Park, Forest, Wilderness, and Fish and Wildlife Services.

Happy hunting!

Travis Roe Grand Canyon Watchtower Lightning Version 3 July 2012 IMG_8926 (1)

Photo by Travis Roe


Photo by Tom Morris

View the press release.

Visit the Department of Interior’s “Share the Experience” website.

And just for inspiration you can visit the official Interior’s Instagram.

Images are Copyright of their respective owners and were acquired with permission from the Department of Interior.


I am a photographer and writer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Landscape is my primary focus, but I love to dabble and experiment in all forms. You can find me on my website or connect with me on Google+.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. dog trainers in tennessee

    Colors also contribute to total beauty of your garden. History: The L

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    Seriously though? so is HDR so commonplace now that it’s not considered editing? ie example images.. -.-‘
    Unless the judges are from natgeo I doubt the HDR’s will be filtered out.. they never are.. just look at those sweet storm clouds in the example image! wow!

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  3. Tony Guillaro

    I wish there was a beautiful park somewhere in FL….Its all Flat land lol

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  4. Photographer

    If you read the “fine print” I have some questions about this part?

    By entering, entrants (parent/legal guardian if entrant is a minor in his/her state of residence) grant a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual license to the Sponsor, Administrator and Federal Recreation Agencies to edit, adapt, make derivative works from, broadcast, publish and otherwise use any or all of the descriptions and/or photograph(s) submitted, and may use them for advertising, promotional and/or any other purpose in any and all media now or hereafter devised worldwide in perpetuity without additional compensation, notification or permission, unless prohibited by law. By entering this Contest, entrants (parent/legal guardian if entrant is a minor in his/her state of residence) agree to have their submitted photograph(s) used and displayed, either singularly or in combination with others and in any size, on the Sponsor’s and/or Administrator’s website and on the websites, social media, and print materials of the Sponsor and/or Administrator without any fee or other form of compensation due at any time for so long as desired by the Sponsor and Administrator. Credits, descriptions or titles, if any, used with the photograph(s) are in the Sponsor’s and Administrator’s sole discretion. In the event that ownership of any photograph(s) submitted is challenged in any manner by any person, Sponsor and Administrator may disqualify that photograph(s) and will discontinue use of the photograph(s).

    Does this say you are granting a license to alter, and/or use your images (even if they don’t win) forever?

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    • Lee Sadler

      Yes, that is correct.

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    • Photographer

      So, would you call this contest a bit of a “rights grab?”

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    • Lee Sadler

      Well, I’m not sure what you mean by that, but yes they’re crowd-sourcing for great images. It’s practically the same with any of the big contests, like NatGeo, Smithsonian, and others; it’s definitely not unique. If you’re concerned about CR issues than i wouldn’t participate, but then again this is a tremendous way to increase one’s exposure in the community (in photography, in art, and just in social media and tourism), and a fantastic way to add to your resumE.

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  5. spizzy

    more goverment wasting of my tax dollars.spizzy

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  6. Smitty

    no more than minimally edited? Like those examples?

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  7. joshmolina2

    i know im gonna get flack for this… but bring on the shit storm of HDR..

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  8. Joseph molina

    i know im gonna get flack for this… but bring on the shit storm of HDR..

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    • Mac Peña

      I completely agree! is it going to exclude HDR images? because a lot of the samples they posted are exactly that.

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