Hope is the Thing With Feathers 2020 Photo Contest

Welcome to the Missouri River Bird Observatory’s 5th Annual Photo Contest
November 1st to December 31st, 2020

Sponsored by Wood & Huston Bank!

At MRBO, we believe that birds provide people with awe, happiness and connection to the natural world. This connection benefits both adults and children in many ways.  One of the goals of this contest is to inspire as many people as possible to photograph beautiful images of birds that can be shared with others. At the same time, we are able to raise funds in support of MRBO’s on-going education and outreach programs.  

For all amateur photographers, this is an opportunity to contribute to conservation education in Missouri 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 2020 photography contest. The contest runs from November 1st to December 31st, 2020.  To make things more exciting, we surveyed photographers who had submitted photos in previous years’ contests and asked what they thought would make the contest more interesting.  Based on their input, four bird guilds which have not been highly photographed will make up the categories:  These are: vireos, flycatchers, wrens/chickadees/titmice, and shorebirds.  

In deference to the extraordinary time in which we’re living, our Grand Prize category for 2020 is entitled “Of Time & Space”. In this category, we are looking for bird photos that photographers would not have captured if the changes to everyday life in 2020 hadn’t opened the door to a particular time and place. Nature has provided refuge for humans more than ever in 2020. We are looking for the story behind how you came to get your special photo during these pandemic times; this will be part of the scoring in this category.  Any native bird species can be entered in this category.

Photography Contest Prizes
Of Time & Space: $1,000
Vireos: 1st place $250, Youth winner $100
Chickadees, Wrens & Titmice: 1st place $250, Youth winner $100
Flycatchers: 1st place $250, Youth winner $100
Shorebirds: 1st place $250, Youth winner $100

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.  

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.  

Please read the submission guidelines and contest rules below.

Black-necked Stilt by Clay Guthrie

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, 2020.

Photograph quality in the vireo, flycatcher, chickadee/wren/titmouse, and shorebird categories will be judged on the basis of composition (1/3), technical and artistic quality (1/3) and originality (1/3). Photographs submitted in the “Of Time & Space” category will be judged on composition (25%), technical and artistic quality (25%), originality (25%) and your pandemic story (25%). 

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 your photo(s) information, contact information and story (if applicable) using our on-line form at https://mrbo.org/photosubmit/.

NEW NOTE: Due to difficulties with our site, we are now asking photographers to fill out the form online and submit the photo files by emailing them to paige.witek@mrbo.org.

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

Please email 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 at https://mrbo.org/photosubmit/.  You will receive an email response for your submissions. Please then send your photo files to paige.witek@mrbo.org asap to be fully entered into the contest. 

Thank you for your interest in our contest!

2020 Photo Contest Judges

Noppadol Paothong
Missouri Department of Conservation photographer; Art in Nature

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

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

Tina Casagrande
The New Territory founder and publisher: https://newterritorymag.com

Dana Ripper
Missouri River Bird Observatory Co-Founder/Director

Ethan Duke
Missouri River Bird Observatory Co-Founder/Director