Nature Photography Competition Taking Entries

Posted by Indy Arts Council ; Posted on 
Nature Photography Competition Taking Entries



The Arts Council of Indianapolis and The Nature Conservancy/Indiana invite artists to submit photographs and photo-based artworks highlighting the natural beauty of Indiana, to be selected through a competition format for consideration for display at the Indianapolis International Airport for a three-month period beginning in December 2016.


  • Release of Call to Entries:  June 1, 2016
  • Submission deadline: July 11, 2016, 11:59 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time
  • Judging: by July 30, 2016
  • Proposed artwork approved by the Indianapolis Airport Authority:  by August 31, 2016
  • Finalists announced: by September 15, 2016
  • Delivery of framed work ready to install:  December 10-11, 2016
  • Exhibition:  December 11, 2016 – March 19, 2017
  • Pickup of artwork:  March 25, 2017


The competition is open to professional and amateur photographers regardless of residence or citizenship, so long as the laws of their jurisdiction allow participation and they are able to comply with the rules and procedures of this competition.  Employees of The Nature Conservancy, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, and the Indianapolis Airport Authority, and the immediate families of such employees, are not eligible to participate. 

Photographers must be age 13 or older.  Due to copyright licensing requirements and other laws, applicants under age 18 must have a parent or legal guardian available to co-sign the application form and to authorize participation and any applicable agreements.

Applicants must be able to prepare digital files according to the guidelines below and fill out an online entry form, which includes uploading the image files. Applicants must also have reliable access to a valid email address for communication with competition officials. 


  • All submitted artworks must be photographs or photo-based images or artworks.
  • All photographs must have been shot within the past five years (2012-2016).
  • The photographed location must be within the State of Indiana. 
  • All other things being equal, preference will be given to images of The Nature Conservancy preserves within Indiana.  A list of these sites can be found here:
  • If you choose to include people in your submission you are responsible for obtaining a signed “model release” from each person depicted, and you must provide properly signed copies of any model release to the Arts Council of Indianapolis if you are selected to participate in the exhibition.  A sample model release can be found here:
  • Applicants may not submit images that involve the willful harassment of wildlife, damage to the environment by the photographer, putting any person or animal in danger or the impression of such, or infringing upon the rights of any other person. 


There are three competition divisions, which will be adjudicated separately.

Adult Professional:  Limited to individuals who make their primary living from the pursuit of photography (commercial or artistic), whether it is nature photography or another form. College or graduate students majoring in a photographic discipline must enter in the Adult Professional category.  Art majors without an extensive photography background may choose to enter either in the Adult Amateur or Adult Professional categories.

Adult Amateur:  Individuals age 18 or older, or age 16-18 and having graduated from high school, who do not pursue photography for their primary living.  College students who have taken one or two undergraduate-level courses in photography, but who do not major in art or photography, should enter in the Adult Amateur category.  Art majors without an extensive photography background may choose to enter either in the Adult Amateur or Adult Professional categories.

Youth:  Individuals age 13 to 17 at the time of application and having not yet graduated from high school.


Within each division, photographers may submit up to 3 images in each of the following categories, for a total maximum submission of 12 artworks:

  • Landscape
  • Plant life
  • Wildlife in natural habitat
  • Artistic

All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (defined as removal of dust, cropping, reasonable adjustments to exposure, color and contrast, etc.) and are entered into a division other than “Artistic” will be disqualified. Multiple exposures that have been combined to produce a single high dynamic range image are acceptable.  Images that do not meet these requirements may or may not be judged, as determined by the judging panel in its sole discretion.

Digital montages, significantly recolored or enhanced images, images with special visual effects or filters, composite or collaged images, photo-based mixed-media works, or multi-panel images of any kind are allowable but must be submitted in the “Artistic” category.

Selection criteria

Images will be judged on originality, composition, overall impact and artistic merit.  The 5-judge panel will be announced after the final date for contest submissions.   The Arts Council of Indianapolis and The Nature Conservancy, upon recommendation from the judging panel, shall determine winner eligibility in their sole and absolute discretion.  Whether any artwork will actually be displayed at the Indianapolis International Airport shall be in the sole and absolute discretion of the Indianapolis International Airport Authority.   


Images selected by the jury panel will be displayed without regard to division or category. If approved for display, they will be mixed together for maximum aesthetics and placed, at the organizers’ discretion, in one of three locations within the Indianapolis International Airport.  One of these locations is behind the security line and is not accessible by the non-travelling public.


The judging panel will designate “Best Of” recognition for each division and category, for up to 7 possible recognized images selected from those identified for display. In addition, a special “Nature Conservancy Award” will be granted to recognize the most evocative portrayal of a Nature Conservancy site in Indiana, without regard to division, and the artwork will be featured on The Nature Conservancy’s website. It is possible for one image to receive both a “Best Of” award and the Nature Conservancy Award.  Additional images may receive “Juror’s Award” recognition at the discretion of the jury panel.

The Nature Conservancy will stage a “People’s Choice” award competition via Facebook during the run of the exhibition.  A set of images will be featured each week and “likes” will be collected to determine the award winner.  More details will be sent to the artists whose work has been selected for exhibition.

No cash or monetary prizes will be given.

How to Apply

Applications will only be received online through Call For Entry (CaFE),   Applications sent via email to the competition director, sent via land mail, or hand-delivered will be discarded immediately.

Once at CaFE’s website, click on the green button marked “View All Calls,” then search for the Indiana, Naturally competition under the call type “Photography” and the state “Indiana.”  This service is free to use and there is no charge to enter the competition, but in order to apply applicants must set up a personal account and comply with all guidelines set by WESTAF, the owner/operator of CaFE.


The competition director is Lindsey Lord, Public Art and Artist Services Coordinator, Arts Council of Indianapolis; please contact her at  If you want a return phone call rather than an email, include a contact number and best time to call in your inquiry email.  Please allow 48 hours for a response. 




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