Hope is the Thing With Feathers 2019


The Missouri River Bird Observatory’s fourth annual photo contest is open October 1st to December 31st, 2019!

We believe that birds inspire people with awe, happiness, and connection to the natural world.  The goals of this contest are to reach as many people as possible with beautiful images of birds and to raise funds in support of MRBO’s on-going education and outreach programs.  

For photographers, this is a chance to contribute to conservation education in Missouri, reach a wider audience with your photography, and have a chance to win cash prizes!  The Missouri River Bird Observatory invites you to submit your favorite bird photo to our Hope is the Thing With Feathers 2019 photography contest.  The contest runs from October 1st to December 31st, 2019.  

This year, we are accepting photos in four categories: wetland birds, prairie birds, forest birds and backyard birds.  These habitats represent the major ecosystems of Missouri and the birds that call them home.  We would like all the folks that view the contest photos to make connections between birds and their habitats. 

All proceeds from contest entry fees benefit the Missouri River Bird Observatory’s education program.  Entry fees are $25 per photo for adults, and $10 per photo for youth aged 10-17.  

Photography Contest Prizes
Grand Prize – Best in Show: $1,000
Wetland Birds: 1st place $250, Youth winner $100
Prairie Birds: 1st place $250, Youth winner $100
Forest Birds: 1st place $250, Youth winner $100
Backyard Birds: 1st place $250, Youth winner $100

Photographs will be used in MRBO printed and social media, in traveling slideshows and presentations, and in video productions.  All photograph uses will fall within the MRBO conservation mission.  

We are very grateful to our sponsor, Wood & Huston Bank, for their generous support of the contest prizes! 

Please read the submission guidelines and contest rules below.

Hope is the Thing With Feathers 
Photography Contest Rules
1. Photographs must have been taken in Missouri.
2. All photos must contain bird life (i.e. contain at least one bird).  The bird or birds depicted must be wild birds depicted in a natural setting (i.e. no domesticated or pet birds; no birds in hand captured as part of banding operations or birds in rehabilitation facilities).
3. Images must not be enhanced or digitally altered beyond standard optimization (minor cropping and color correction). You may be required to provide MRBO with RAW image files in the timeframe provided upon request (generally within 7 days).  
4. Photographs must have been obtained ethically.  MRBO adheres to the National Audubon Society’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography. Please read this guide prior to contest submission.
5. Current and former employees of MRBO are not eligible to enter.
6. Contest is open only to amateur photographers.  Those who make more than $5,000 a year from their work as a photographer are not eligible.
7. All submitted images may be used by MRBO, with credit given to the photographer, in future publications, presentations, videos, slideshows, social media, etc.; the photographer also retains the rights to use/publish each photo.
8. By submitting a photograph, you affirm that you are the sole author and own all rights to the photo.
9.  Deadline for photo submission is 11:59 p.m. CST, December 31st, 2019.

Photographs will be judged on the basis of composition (25 points), technical and artistic quality (25 points), originality (25 points), and conservation description (25 points).  Please note the weight of the conservation description score as 1/4 of the total.  This description is unique to you, the photographer, and what is important to you about conserving the bird(s) in your photo.  Here is an example of a photo and conservation description from last year’s photography contest:  During Missouri winters, it’s beneficial to leave enough ground cover and bushes within which birds can harbor. I like to suppose that Northern Cardinals intentionally seek red berries, which in turn brightens their hue. Indeed, research indicates brighter males have higher reproductive success and territories with greater vegetation density, so we hope we’re contributing to that support.

Photographs are judged anonymously (i.e. the judges will not know the name of the photographer).  The decisions of the judges will be final.

Submission Instructions

Please submit all photo(s), contact information and conservation description using our on-line form at https://mrbo.org/photosubmit/
This submission system requires a reliable, relatively fast internet connection.  

[If you have any difficulty with this photo submission system, please email MRBO Education Coordinator Paige Witek, who is administering this year’s contest: paige.witek@mrbo.org]

Please submit images in .jpeg format.  Images must be close to 2400 pixels wide (for horizontal Photographs) or 2400 pixels tall (for vertical Photographs) at 72 dpi.

The contest entry fee is $25 per submitted photo; $10 for youth.  You will be linked to Paypal once you have filled out the form and uploaded your photo(s) at https://mrbo.org/photosubmit/.  You will receive an email response for your submissions.  If you do not receive a response within 72 hours, please email paige.witek@mrbo.org to advise.

Our judges include:
Karen Avery Miller
Artist; The Little Studio and Gallery

David Stonner
Missouri Department of Conservation photographer; David Stonner Photo Journal

Steve Garr
Missouri Bluebird Society, founder/president; Birds-I-View, owner

Dana and Ethan Duke
Missouri River Bird Observatory founders/directors.

You can view photo contest entries from previous years’ contests here:
2018   2017    2016