NBP Awards & Judging Current Competitions & The Judging Process

Above: © Mark Williams / NBP Awards

SUBSCRIBE NOW to get the NBP Winter Edition featuring all of the 2020 contests Winners. This extra-large 132-page Special Awards Edition has all the 2020 Nature's Best International Awards winners and Highly Honored images and videos, the Best Backyards and the National Parks winning photos, as well as the stories behind the photos, the camera gear, and settings for each shot.


The first annual contest category Winners and selected Highly Honored finalists were revealed at an exhibition and event at the Nairobi National Museum in Kenya to kick-off AWF's 60-year anniversary. The top images are NOW being selected for the Special Edition of Nature's Best due to be on press in February. All entrants will be emailed with results. The SECOND ANNUAL MKAPA PHOTO AWARDS will open for entries this spring! New Guidelines coming soon with new categories.


The 2020 Best Backyards and National Parks contest winners were announced by email to all who entered. The Top 40 finalists of each competition will appear in galleries on this website; the Pro, Amateur, Youth, and Video winners will be published in the Winter edition of NBP magazine. SUBSCRIBE to get the new issue and all the stories behind the shots.


THE JUDGING PANEL for each competition ranks each photo and video submitted during three rounds of "blind" judging. What is blind judging? To ensure fairness, our judges cannot see the photographers’ names in relation to images during review. They will only see the photo and the notes added to each entry. They will then rank the image. The votes are compiled into a report where judges' votes are tallied.

Photographers making it through the initial round are Semifinalists. We will email photographers a "Hi-res Request" Form with instructions on what you need to send us for the second round of review. You will be asked to supply the following:

  • High resolution TIFF files and un-altered RAWs or original JPEGs
  • Complete caption telling the story behind the shot
  • Camera specifications including lenses, accessories, tripod, and head
  • Confirmation that your subject has NOT been baited, lured, staged, or taken in a controlled situation.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Failure to comply with contest rules and supply requested materials on time, may lead to disqualification. Please let us know if you will be traveling, so we may reach you throughout the judging period.



During initial review, images that stand out move to the next round. The Judges are looking for images that deserve a closer look, based on:

  • Good composition
  • Originality
  • Artistic merit
  • Overall appeal
  • Educational value
  • Good representation of the category

At this time, some images may be eliminated due to factors such as:

  • Main subject out of focus
  • Blown-out highlights
  • Poor composition
  • Bad exposure


Photos moved to this round merit a closer look. Each semifinalist will be emailed as we request hi-res and RAW photo files and detailed captions. Judges now also consider:

  • Technical excellence
  • The story behind the shot

Images with similar subject matter compete with one another in this round. The Judges are looking to see:

  • Well-balanced compositions
  • Nothing detracts from the main subject
  • Primary subject not cut off at edge of frame, unless it is more powerful as an intentional crop
  • New perspectives of familiar topics
  • Sharp focus or blurred by intention
  • Compared to raw image, image has not been over-processed

Images passed through the second round review are selected for the final round. All will be under consideration as a category Winner or a Highly Honored finalist.


This is the most difficult round and most time-consuming. With so many images artistically qualified, the winners are chosen. The Judges will:

• Examine each high resolution file in great detail and compare to the original file.

• Assess which images will make an outstanding collection together, showing a variety of species, behaviors, and locations.

Ultimately, the Judges reach agreement on the finalists.

All photographers entering the contest will be contacted via email when final decisions are made.

During Nature’s Best blind judging, our judges cannot see the photographers’ names in relation to images. This means we sometimes have multiple images as finalists from a single photographer. Judges will see the notes you add to your entry and have the ability to move images from one category to another, if they see fit.

Good luck to one and all!

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Nature's Best®