Nature provides an endless list of subject matters, which makes amateur and professional photographers turn their lenses exclusively to the beautiful natural world. Furthermore, nature photography relies heavily on natural light, is unpredictable and challenging as the weather, and accepts a wide range of camera and lens types. The photographer can go from macro shots of the tiny world to wide-angle landscapes and panoramic night skies. As a result, many photo contests focus on nature photography. But none is more famous and popular than the National Geographic Photo Contest.

National Geographic Photo Contest

National Geographic magazine was founded in 1888 and focuses on the environment, animals, history and culture, science, and travel. Its mission is to raise awareness and encourage people to connect with nature and cultures around the world; its preferred tool is storytelling. So, it was obvious that a storytelling magazine would be full of high-quality photographs depicting remote locations, documenting cultures, and revealing the unseen parts of our world. And that its pages will attract renowned photographers. But lately, Nation Geographic opened its doors to everyone able to take a good shot.

The first initiative was the National Geographic Travel Photo Contest, followed in 2022 by the National Geographic Pictures of the Year Photo Contest. Aspiring photographers are welcome to submit their photographs taken during the last year to four categories: Nature, People, Places, and Animals. The winning photograph is featured in the magazine, while ten more others receive honorable mentions and are featured on the magazine’s Instagram page. The story of the first edition of the contest, alongside the winning photographs, is published here.

National Geographic Pictures of the Year Photo Contest grand-prize-winning photograph in 2022

A bald eagle arrives to steal a perch on a tree log that offers a strategic view of the shoreline at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Alaska. When other eagles drag freshly caught salmon in from the water, these bystanders swoop in to take a share. "Hours of observing their patterns and behavior helped me capture moments like these,” says photographer Karthik Subramaniam, a software engineer with a passion for wildlife photography. Photograph by Karthik Subramaniam.

National Geographic Pictures of the Year Photo Contest is open to U.S. residents only, age 18 years or older.

Does National Geographic Accept Photo Submissions?

National Geographic Pictures of the Year Photo Contest takes place only once a year, in December, to give participants as much time as possible to take memorable shots. Winning the contest is your only chance of having a photograph featured in the printed magazine. National Geographic doesn’t accept photo submissions.

But if you want to link your name to the famous publication, you can sign in to their global Instagram community, National Geographic Your Shot. All you have to do is follow the community and tag your photographs with #YourShotPhotographer for a chance to get featured on the community’s page.

Although National Geographic is a great way to establish yourself as a nature photographer, the path is rough and with few chances of success. The magazine simply can’t accommodate all the amazing nature photographers out there. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. But it means you should consider alternatives, such as photo contests and communities open to everyone. And Viewbug is one of the best.

Viewbug Nature – The Best National Geographic Photo Contest Alternative

Viewbug Nature is a category of photo competitions that welcomes photographers of all levels to submit their best nature shots. The contests take place online and expose your photos (winning or not) to a large and enthusiastic photo community. Furthermore, there isn’t just one competition at the end of the year. You can submit to multiple contests all year long, and the list of open competitions updates every few months. The topics also vary, from inclusive themes, such as everything about nature, to focused themes, such as the sky, clouds, and trees. You have a chance to match your best photos with the theme that represents them the most.


Viewbug offers a different prize for each competition. They consist of money, photography-related objects (e.g., cameras, lenses, gadgets, accessories, etc.), and Viewbug coins one can use to purchase Viewbug benefits. In addition, winning photographs are featured on the website and showcased to a large community.

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Prizes in money are sent via PayPal, and objects are delivered by Amazon. Thus, everyone with access to these two services is welcome to enroll in Viewbug Nature competitions.

Popular Submissions

Good news about Viewbug Nature competitions is that they involve the public. You get to upload your photos to the nature photography category and see the community’s reaction before submitting your work to a competition. Based on the feedback you receive, you can select a different image, improve your photography style, and become a better photographer.

Furthermore, Viewbug Nature contests use the community’s votes to select the photos that end up on the judges’ table. So popularity is taken into consideration. In addition, one photo from the most voted ones will receive the People's Choice Award.

Previous Winners

Winners of Viewbug Nature contests get featured in Viewbug blogs. They can share their results on social media and enlarge their audience. Moreover, aspirant photographers can check out previous winning photographs before preparing their submissions. And because each of Viewbug’s photo competitions has a different theme, you can find inspiration for photographing people enjoying nature, creating compositions with shadows, finding ways to immerse in nature, and many others.

Viewbug Shadows In Nature Photo Contest Winner


How do I enter Viewbug Nature Photo Contest?

Entering the Viewbug Nature Photo Contest is free and easy. All you have to do is to create a free account, upload your best nature shots, and check out the nature contest’s page. Some of Viewbug Nature Photo Contest opportunities require a paid account. Then, select one or more of the ongoing competitions that allow your participation and click on ‘Submit Photos’. The platform lets you choose one of the previously uploaded photographs or upload new ones. Once the image is ready, press ‘Continue’. That’s all! Your photos are submitted to the Viewbug Nature Photo Contest of your choice, and you can see them under Latest Submissions.