2011 National Geographic Photo Contest FAQ

How do I enter the photo contest?

Please follow the registration and upload instructions on the Enter page. The entry period begins September 1 and ends November 30, 2011.

Why won't my photo upload?

Make sure your photograph meets the following requirements:
• JPG or JPEG file format
• At least 1,600 pixels wide (if a horizontal image) or 1,600 pixels tall (if a vertical image)
• Total file size must be 5 megabytes (MB) or less

I have a log in and password from My Shot/Your Shot. Why isn't it working?

We apologize for the inconvenience, but you must register again. Nationalgeographic.com has a new authentication tool that requires all users to register. However, you can alternatively use your Google, Facebook, AOL, Yahoo, Windows Live ID, or WordPress accounts to log in to our site.

Why do I need to register with National Geographic to submit a photo?

Registering for National Geographic ensures that we have your contact information and that you have read and accepted the Terms of Service for the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest.

What is the entry fee?

The entry fee is U.S. $15 per photo.

How do I pay the entry fee?

You must use PayPal to pay the contest entry fee. Your credit/debit card information is maintained by PayPal and is not shared with the National Geographic Society. Please visit the PayPal Help Center if you have further questions or experience any problems.

How do I know that you've received my entry?

You will receive a confirmation email.

I didn't receive my confirmation email. Why not?

Some ISPs (Internet service providers) have filters that block or filter emails sent from unknown addresses. If you have a "junk mail" box, check to see if that's where the email landed. If you use software to monitor your email, make sure your settings aren't blocking your emails.

How many photos may I submit?

There is no limit on the number of entries. You may submit as many photos as you like, in one or more of these categories: people, places, and nature.

I can't remember which photographs I've entered. Can you tell me which of my photos you've received?

You can view your entries on your submission history page. Entries that have been submitted and paid for appear under "Previously Submitted Photos."

How will my photograph be judged?

Judging consists of three rounds of evaluation for each category. In round one, each judge in a panel of photographic experts will select ten entries in each category from among all eligible entries, based on the following criteria: creativity 50%; photographic quality 50%.

The entries selected in round one will proceed to round two. In round two, the judges will collectively select a first-place winner in each category. In round three, the judges will select a grand prize winner from among the first-place winners. In the event of a tie, the tied entries will be re-submitted to the judges for a re-judging between the tied entries alone. In the event that a tie remains after re-judging, the entry with the highest score in the creativity criteria will be declared the winner.

When will the winners be announced?

Winners of the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest will be chosen on or around December 15, 2011, and will be notified by email.

What are the prizes?

The first-place winner in each category will receive U.S. $2,500, and have their winning photograph published in National Geographic magazine. One grand prize winner will receive, in addition to the first place prize, U.S. $7,500, and a trip to National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. There are no prizes for the Viewers' Choice winner or the honorable mentions.

Why are residents of Arizona, New Jersey, and Vermont not allowed to participate?

Those states do not allow operation of a skill contest that requires an entry fee. Please contact your local jurisdiction for further information.

Why are residents of the province of Quebec excluded from participating in the contest?

Running contests of broad geographical scope requires observing the regulations of all of the jurisdictions in question. The legal complexities of doing so make it prohibitive, if not impossible, to run competitions that are open to all jurisdictions, states and territories, in some instances. Restrictive laws in certain jurisdictions sometimes prompt their ineligibility.

Why are residents of Cuba, Iran, N. Korea, Sudan, and Syria excluded from participating in the contest?

U.S. laws impose economic and trade sanctions against certain countries based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals, and preclude residents of those countries from participating in the contest.

It says I must be the age of majority to enter. What is the age of majority?

The age of majority varies from place to place. You can check the website of your state or local jurisdiction, or call your government offices to get information specific to your place of residence.

I'm not the age of majority. Is there a photography contest that I can enter?

Please visit the National Geographic Kids website for information on entering the United States and Canadian International Photo Contest for Kids. You must be between the ages of 6 and 14 to enter this contest.

I’d like to enter a photo that has previously been published. Is that allowed?

Yes, you may enter a photo that has previously been published.

I’d like to enter a photo that has previously won a contest. Is that allowed?

Photographs must have been taken within two (2) years before the date of entry and may not previously have won an award in the National Geographic Photography Contest, the National Geographic International Photography Contest, or any, National Geographic Traveler photo contest in the last three years. Photographs that have won other contests may be submitted.

How old can my entry be?

Photographs must have been taken within two years of the date of entry.

Will my photography be seen online?

Selected entries and the entrants' names may be published on the National Geographic website at the discretion of the National Geographic Society.

Will I be notified if my photo is chosen for the online galleries?

You will be notified only if you are a first-place category winner.

Do photos have to be taken with a digital camera?

Submitted photos do NOT have to be digital photos from a digital camera. Any digital scan will do, as long as the end result is a JPG or JPEG file. You may submit scans of negatives, transparencies, or photographs taken with traditional cameras.

Is image manipulation allowed in the photo contest?

Minor burning, dodging, and color correction are acceptable. High dynamic range images (HDR) and stitched panoramas are NOT acceptable. For more information, please read our statement on digital manipulation. We trust our users to keep it real and submit unaltered files. We can not research every photo entry. However, if a photo is chosen as a winner, it will be scrutinized for possible alterations.

What should I include in the description of my photograph?

Captions are a good way to engage others in your photography. So take the time to write about the place, time, setting, and situation.

Are captions fact-checked for accuracy?

We trust our users to give accurate caption information, so we do not research or fact-check their captions. However, if a photo is chosen for publication in the magazine, it will be fact-checked.

When I submit a photo to the photo contest, what rights does the National Geographic Society have to my submission?

National Geographic will have the nonexclusive, perpetual right to use your image in connection with the contest and promotion of the contest, in any media now or hereafter known, including, but not limited to display at a potential exhibition of winners; publication of a book featuring select entries in the contest; publication in National Geographic magazine or online, highlighting entries or winners of the contest. Please read through the official photo contest rules for further information on the rights you grant when submitting a photograph to the National Geographic Photography Contest.

I accidentally uploaded the wrong photo and paid the entry fee. Can I delete my entry and submit a new photo?

Unfortunately, due to the large volume of photos submitted to the contest, all entries are final and cannot be replaced or modified.

Are release forms required when submitting a photograph to the photo contest?

By submitting a photograph to the National Geographic Photo Contest you warrant that you are the owner of the image, that you alone own the copyright, and that you have obtained any necessary third-party releases.

If your photograph is selected as a winner of the contest, you may be asked to submit a personal release, a location release, or an artist release. Please do not send any releases unless we've asked you to. Please read through the official photo contest rules for more information regarding releases.

The photograph I'd like to submit was taken while I was on vacation. There's no way for me to get a signed release form. Can I still enter this photograph in the contest?

If your photograph is chosen as a winner of the contest, you may be required to submit a release.

What is a personal release form?

If any person in your photograph is recognizable, you may be asked to provide National Geographic with a personal release form signed by that person or those persons. Images of unrecognizable people do not need personal releases. A personal release form is a binding contract between the photographer and the subject(s) of the photograph. By signing the release, the subject of the photograph forgoes the right to sue for specific types of claims. Download our printable Personal Release form. (You'll need Acrobat Reader to view the download. Get the free plug-in here.)

Do photos of children require personal release forms?

Yes, if the children are recognizable (see answer above). But personal release forms for anyone under the age of majority must be signed by the subject's legal guardian—not by the child. Download our printable Personal Release form. (You'll need Acrobat Reader to view the download. Get the free plug-in here.)

What is a location release form?

A location release form is a binding contract between the photographer and the owner(s) of private property within or upon which a photograph was taken. By signing the release, the owner of the property forgoes the right to sue for specific types of claims. Download our printable Location Release form. (You'll need Acrobat Reader to view the download. Get the free plug-in here.)

What is an artist release form?

An artist release form is a binding contract between the photographer and the copyright holder(s) of any art in the photograph. By signing the release, the copyright holder of the art in the photograph forgoes the right to sue for specific types of claims. Download our printable Artist Release form. (You'll need Acrobat Reader to view the download. Get the free plug-in here.)

Still have a question?

Email our support team.

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