Think beyond local camera club contests and consider some of the premier nature photography competitions in the world
Text And Photography By Dave Welling
Daniel Housberg Wilderness Image Award Another major opportunity for photographers working in Alaska or developing environmentally based projects in the state is the Daniel Housberg Wilderness Image Award for Excellence in Still Photography and a separate award for Excellence in Video or Film. This is a highly regarded awards program that's not a photo contest in the general sense of photo contests.
The project or images must be strictly from Alaska and, according to the Alaska Conservation Foundation and the Advocacy Arts Foundation that administer the program, awards are made for still images and video or film projects that advance the protection of the environment, further the discussion of issues relating to conservation of habitat or the enlightened management of national resources, or promote greater public education in these areas. The images or projects must relate solely to Alaska or Alaska subjects.
The Alaska Conservation Foundation has been presenting Housberg Awards since 1996 and the Advocacy Arts Foundation joined with the Conservation Foundation a few years ago to double the financial award to the winner in each section. The awards are now $1,000 for both still and film/video winners.
Past still photographer winners include Michio Hoshino (posthumously), Kim Heacox, Dorothy and Leo Keeler, James Barker, Subhankar Banerjee and Robert Belous. All of these people have been heavily involved in Alaska environmental and native cultures for many years.
The application procedure for this contest is somewhat unique. Nominations for awards may be made by the photographer or someone familiar with his or her work who feels he or she has a body of work or project that meets the above criteria. Applications must include a selection of 20 images that support the project or effort as well as a short summary letter of why the individual should be considered (50 words) and a more detailed letter of nomination that includes the breadth of the nominee's contribution to the Alaska environment or conservation (500 words). Letters of support for the nominee from other people also may be included.
One interesting feature of this program is that if you don't win in the year you submit, your application will be held and reviewed for a possible award for the next two consecutive years. This program is well worth considering if you have the Alaska experience, not so much for the money, but for the recognition of the Alaska environment, its wildlife and its native cultures. All are under consistent assault from outside influences such as the current effort to bring drilling to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or to increase logging in the Tongass National Forest, one of the largest remaining temperate rain forests in North America.
Whatever contest route you take—from entering a major competition such as the BBC contest to a local camera club contest—remember, don't be discouraged if your images don't win. (For several years, many of us who entered the Valley Land Fund Contest would get together at the NANPA convention and show images of "non-winners" and discuss why and how we could do better next time.) Each contest gives you the opportunity to improve your skills, meet new people, discover new locations and photo opportunities, see a wide variety of wildlife and create new and better images. What more could you want and still have great fun doing it?