NBP Judging Process

The 2024 Nature's Best Photography Awards competition is OPEN NOW! CLICK TO ENTER

Get all the NBP Awards Deadlines, Rules, Prizes, and Categories in the ENTRY GUIDELINES PDF

NBP Awards Judging Process

There are three rounds of judging. To ensure fairness, our judges cannot see the photographers’ names in relation to images during the initial review. This is referred to as “blind judging.” In the NBP Judging Lightbox, the Judges will only see the photo and the photographer’s notes (story about the shot, if added). Judges review and rank each image. All Judges' votes are compiled into a report where the Judges' votes are tallied.

Photographers making it through the initial round are called “Semifinalists." The Nature’s Best contest manager will email photographers a "Hi-res Request" letter with instructions on how and when they need to send us their selected images and more detailed captions for the second round of review.

Semifinalists will be asked to supply the following:

  • High resolution TIFF files and un-altered RAWs or original JPEGs
  • Complete caption with title, species, location, and the story behind the shot
  • Camera specifications including lenses, accessories, tripod, and head
  • Confirmation that the subject has NOT been baited, lured, staged, or taken in a controlled situation, and follows all rules as stated in the Ethics portion of the entry guidelines.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: We may disqualify a photographer’s work if they fail to comply with contest rules and/or fail to supply requested materials on time.

Round One: Preliminary Review

During initial review, images that stand out move to the next round. The Contest Judges are looking for:

  • Good composition
  • Overall Appeal
  • Artistic Merit
  • Originality
  • Good representation of the category
  • Diversity of photo subject

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

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

Round Two: Semifinal Review

Photos moved to this round merit a closer look. The 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 will be looking for:

  • Well-balanced compositions
  • Background does not distract from the main subject
  • Primary subject is not cut off at the edge of frame, unless it is a powerful, 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. Each Semifinalist passing the 2nd round, is now under consideration as a category Winner or as a Highly Honored finalist. The images will be reviewed in high resolution by the Nature’s Best photo team of specialists, and the Judges will carefully consider the finalists.

  • Each high resolution file will be examined in great detail and compared to the original file
  • Each "Story Behind the Shot" will be read and considered
  • Each photographer must declare compliance to the Ethics guidelines

Round Three: Final Selection

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

  • Review the finalists determined to be of excellent quality
  • Assess which images will make an outstanding collection together, showing a variety of species, behaviors, and locations
  • Ultimately, the Judges will reach agreement on the finalists
  • All photographers entering the contest will be contacted via email when final decisions are made

GOOD LUCK TO ALL. We look forward to seeing your work!