Defenders Kicks off its Third Annual Photography Contest

Today is the official start of Defenders of Wildlife’s 3rd annual photo contest. Over the last two years we have had some truly amazing photographs submitted as photographers of all skill levels compete for our grand prize; a week long photo tour with renowned conservationist and wildlife photographer Jess Lee as he takes you through Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons on one of his signature photo tours. I was fortunate enough to talk with last year’s grand prize winner, Jim Chagares, about his grand prize trip with Jess Lee, his views on conservation, and how he was fortunate enough to snap his grand prize winning photograph.  You can visit for submission guidelines, rules, and photo submissions as well as check our FAQ section for some answers to the most common questions we’ve run into in previous contests.  The contest runs from February 15th – March 15th and best of luck to everyone who enters. We here at Defenders are looking forward to another great contest!

How long have you been a photographer?

I have been a photographer all my life. I opened my photography business in 1988. Prior to that I was a musician and taught elementary school 14 years. In 1988, I joined Professional Photographers of America and began studying with the finest photographers in the world. Shortly after joining Professional Photographers of America I received my Master of Photographers Degree and this year became one of only 111 to hold the Fellowship Degree from American Society of Photographers.

How did you manage to get the shot of the bear with her cubs?

This was my second trip to Katmai in Alaska to photograph Brown Bear. While there the most exciting thing is to photograph mothers with cubs. I have photographed several with one, two or three cubs but this was certainly a special treat to find a mother with quadruplets. The interaction between the cubs and mother and cubs was the best. Never a dull moment. I was able to capture several sequences while they were nursing but this was by far the most unusual pose.

Wolf on grand prize tripCan you tell me a little about the photography tour with Jess Lee?  How was Jess as a tour leader and what were some of the highlights of your trip?

Traveling and getting to know Jess was a great experience. His knowledge of photography and his images are second to none. He was fun to be with as were the others in the workshop. We photographed the scenery, elk, bison, wolves, coyote, eagles, moose, foxes, big horned sheep and more.

What are your views on conservation of our natural places and wildlife?

The National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges are by far the best thing for the preservation of our wildlife and scenery. Protecting and managing the wildlife along with limiting housing developments on this land is paramount.

Moose on grand prize tripWhy do you support Defenders of Wildlife?

It is important to help Defenders of Wildlife lobby for the protection of our wildlife. They are the voice of the people toward the preservation of endangered species as well as all species. I enjoy their informative website and blog emails with articles about so many diverse species. Their magazine is full of great articles and pictures.

Grand TetonsWhat is your favorite place to photograph and why?

My favorite place for wildlife photography is Yellowstone/Tetons National Parks. The scenery is also spectacular. I spend two to three weeks there each winter, spring and fall. I also love to photograph birds in Florida. Each year I photograph the warbler migration at Magee Marsh on Lake Erie and Point Peele in Canada. The Brown Bear in Katmai National Park in Alaska is certainly one of the greatest experiences ever.

Great Gray OwlWhat is next on your photographing agenda?  Any cool trips planned?

This January I went to Canada to photograph a Great Gray Owl for five days. I just returned from the Mississippi River where I spent time photographing eagles. I leave on Tuesday for two week in Yellowstone. In March I am traveling to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to photography birds. The first of May I will again photograph the warbler migration on Lake Erie. The last week of May and September I will be returning to Yellowstone. July will be Loons with chicks in Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada. October will be filled with Wood Ducks in northern Ohio.