July 15 marked the opening of the 29th annual “Ding” Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest. Deadline for submission is Sept. 15, 2021; all entries must be submitted electronically. Cash award prizes are $300 for first place, $225 for second, and $175 for third.


The contest, sponsored by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS), is held in conjunction with “Ding” Darling Day, Oct. 10, 2021 (www.dingdarlingday.com).


Complete contest rules are listed below. For an entry form and other contest information, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/photo-contests. DDWS will announce winners and award prizes at “Ding” Darling Day.


Entries must be delivered by email to [email protected] by Sept. 15, 2021. For assistance, call 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or email [email protected]. Entrants can pay by sending a check made out to the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society (P.O. Box 565, Sanibel, Fla. 33957) with a memo “for photo contest” or online at tinyurl.com/dingdonations with a note in “gift comments” designating the donation as photo contest fees.


Note that entries must be submitted electronically. To maintain its commitment to the environment, DDWS no longer accepts photo contest entries by mail.


  • There is a $25 per person entry fee that provides you with a membership to the Society and is used to defray the cost of the contest. ONE FEE COVERS TWO ENTRIES PER PERSON.
  • Only AMATEUR (all ages) photographers are eligible to enter (may not possess a professional photographer tax identification number for the sale of photographs).
  • Photos must be taken at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and within two years of entry date.
  • Each person may enter up to two photos but is eligible to win only one award. ONE $25 FEE COVERS TWO ENTRIES PER PERSON.
  • Photos must be submitted electronically via email to [email protected]. Each photo must be a JPEG file of at least 3000 x 2400 or 4 megabytes (MB). Panoramic photos are not allowed.
  • Photos that have won awards in previous “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society photo contests may not be resubmitted.
  • Judging will be anonymous. Please do not put your name or anything that will identify you on your photograph.
  • Judging criteria:

1)    Technical excellence (sharpness, lighting, composition, exposure)

2)    Originality/creativity

3)    Interest

4)    Ability to be reproduced for publication

  • Only limited image modifications are permitted. Minor manipulation should be used only to produce a more natural looking photograph. Cropping is allowed but adding any elements not existing in the original scene will not be accepted. Judges, at their discretion, will disqualify any photos that appear to be manipulated beyond these guidelines. All photo files will become the property of DDWS. Photos may be used by DDWS in any way with appropriate credit to the photographer.
  • First, second, and third place winners and honorable mentions will be formally announced during the “Ding” Darling Day on Oct. 10. Cash prizes will be awarded: first place $300, second place $225, third place $175, honorable mentions $25.
  • There are three judges: A refuge staff person, a professional photographer, and a member of the Sanibel community.



As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop profits.


To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at  239-472-1100 ext. 4, or [email protected].