Entering nature photo contests can be very rewarding, and in more ways than one. In addition to being a great learning experience, you could also gain more exposure and possibly even walk away with a pretty sum of money. 

Whether you’re a young photographer looking to enter the industry, an amateur, or a professional with many years of experience behind your name, here are 10 of the best wildlife photography competitions to enter in the new year. What’s more, many of them are free!

1. Free VIEWBUG's Nature Photography Contest


Viewbug offers hundreds of nature photo contests that you can enter. Not only are there daily contests, but you’ll always remain the owner of the photos that you’ve chosen to submit. 

There are also great prizes up for grabs. To give you an idea, you can win hundreds of dollars paid right into your PayPal account. 

It’s very easy to enter. If you see a contest on their website that you would like to participate in, all you need to do is create a Viewbug account and follow the prompts. 

What’s more, Viewbug also offers an award-winning community. This big and friendly network is a great place where you can explore your creativity further.

2. Nature Photographer of the Year


The Nature Photographer of the Year (NPOTY) competition has been running since 2016. It’s one of the most popular global photo competitions and attracts as many as 19,000 entries from dozens of countries. 

In addition to walking away with the impressive title “Nature Photographer of the Year”, your work will also be rewarded with awesome prizes. To give you an idea, the overall winner in 2023 received a cash prize of €3,000. 

Residents from any country can enter. Plus, young photographers are also welcome (there’s a minimum age limit of 10, though). What’s more, there are also 10 different categories, including a young NPOTY award and a portfolio award.

3. The National Wildlife® Photo Contest


This nature photography contest started more than 50 years ago. Its goal is to celebrate the power of photography to improve conservation and connect photographers and viewers with the great outdoors. 

By entering, you also support the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). And, if you want to help them with the conservation work even further, you have the option of donating your image so that ownership is shared between you and the NWF. It’s a wildly popular photo competition and the 2021 event received over 40,000 entries. 

There are a number of categories that you can enter, including one for young photographers aged 13-17.

4. Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year


Since 1965, the Natural History Museum has been recognizing the best nature photography from all across the globe. Not only do they want to give praise to the talented nature photographers, but they also want to use the powerful effect of photography to increase scientific knowledge, increase awareness about key issues, and nurture a love for nature. 

Photos must reflect on our natural world creatively, honestly, and ethically. Categories for which you can enter are:

  • Photojournalist
  • Rising Star Award (ages 18 to 26)
  • Portfolio Award (ages 27 and up)

5. Sanctuary Nature Foundation Photography Awards


This photo contest was started to showcase India’s best wildlife photographs. Whether you prefer capturing action shots, portraits, or abstract nature frames, a wide range of images that show conservation and conflict are welcomed. While any nationality is allowed to enter (there’s also no age restriction), the images must be photographed on the Asian continent. 

6. British Wildlife Photography Awards


If you have captivating nature images taken in the United Kingdom, you can check out the British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA). This nature photo competition celebrates British natural history through several categories that include animal behavior, habitat, urban wildlife, and wild woods. 

It’s also a great competition for young, aspiring nature photographers. Unlike many of the other contests on this list that either have an age limit or only one category for young photographers, BWPA has three. These include for photographers 11 and younger, 12-14 years, and 15-17 years. 

In addition to receiving the prestigious title, winners also receive a cash prize and category prize.

7. Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards


The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards was born in 2015 from a love for wildlife. The founders have lived and worked for decades in East Africa and created this free nature photo contest to celebrate the lighter side of our natural world. 

Unlike some of the other more established competitions that are mainly aimed at professional photographers, this contest is open to all: novices, amateurs, and pros. It also includes a category for kids younger than 18. What’s more, it also has a category for short video clips.

8. Underwater Photographer of the Year


Started in 2015, the Underwater Photographer of the Year (UPY) award attracts thousands of photographs from hundreds of photographers each year. It might cater to a smaller niche, but the winning images still receive widespread coverage from the top media outlets that include tabloids and social platforms. 

Hurry up, because entries for 2023’s event already open on 1 November. There are more than 10 main categories that include wrecks, interesting natural behavior of underwater life, and portraits.

9. Sony World Photography Awards


The Sony World Photography Awards has four distinct competitions:

  • Professional competition
  • Open competition
  • Youth competition
  • Student competition

Started more than 15 years ago, this competition has grown into one of the top competitions for photographers. As you would expect, its top prize is pretty impressive — a whopping $25,000. Unlike the other contests on this list that solely focus on nature photography, this one is open to other categories too, but includes categories for landscape, environment, and wildlife and nature that nature photographers can explore.

10. National Geographic Photo Contest


National Geographic’s photo contest gives photographers from all over the globe the chance to share inspirational and informative photos. What makes this competition so great is that it features a wide range of categories that include: animals, environment, and travel. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the best wildlife photography competitions in 2023?

A: Here are 10 of the best wildlife photography competitions that you can check out in 2023:
Viewbug’s Nature Photography Contest
Nature Photographer of the Year
National Wildlife Photo Contest
Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Sanctuary Nature Foundation Photography Awards
British Wildlife Photography Awards
Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
Underwater Photographer of the Year
Sony World Photography Awards
National Geographic Photo Contest

Q: Where can I submit pictures of nature?

A: You can, for example, check out Viewbug. All you need to do is create a free account and follow the prompts. 

Q: What do you mean by nature photography?

A: In short, nature photography refers to a wide range of photos that get captured outdoors with the goal of showcasing natural elements like plants, wildlife, and landscapes. It can also include close-ups of natural scenes. A key focus of nature photography is the aesthetic value it can bring. These types of photos are typically published in travel magazines like National Geographic.