Polar bear and cubs, © Pam Hartman

Defenders 5th Annual Photo Contest

Love photography? Have some great shots of wildlife or beautiful natural places that you would like to share with others? Well, now is your chance as Defenders launches our fifth annual photo contest.  Submit up to six of your favorite photos through March 17, 2014 and you could win some fabulous prizes and help Defenders promote wildlife conservation. Click here to learn more about the rules, prizes and how to start submitting your photos.

Last year, we received over 6,000 submissions of some of the best wildlife and wild lands photos we have ever seen. This year, the grand-prize winner will receive a week-long photo tour of Yellowstone National Park in the fall with professional photographer, Jess Lee. We anticipate there will be some amazing

© Mark Johnson

2nd Place: Wild Lands, 2013 Photo Contest (© Mark Johnson)

photographs to choose from so be sure to send us your best.

As you know, Defenders of Wildlife focuses on the protection and restoration of North America’s imperiled wildlife. In order for submissions to eligible for judging in the 2014 contest, wildlife photographs submitted must feature either imperiled North American wildlife or wild lands. We pay particular attention to our 25 key species and focal landscapes.

As a teaser to the great Yellowstone trip that Jess Lee is donating this year, I thought it would be fun to hear about last year’s trip from grand-prize winner, Pam Hartman. She was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk to me about her passion for photography and her experience in Yellowstone with world-renowned photographer Jess Lee. Here is what she had to say:

How was your experience in Yellowstone and Grand Teton with Jess Lee?

Jess truly had some fantastic vantage points to get photography. There were eight of us on the trip. Being in such a small group was a bonus because we got a lot of personal attention when it came to learning photography from him. Getting up and being on the road at four-thirty or five o’clock in the morning to watch the sun come up was my favorite aspect of the trip. Seeing the beautiful colors of the sky was just amazing. The scenery was just absolutely stunning and I would say 90 percent of the places we went, we were the only ones there. Overall, it was just an amazing trip and a great opportunity to learn from someone with experience.

Why did you decide to start entering Defenders annual photo contest?

I think the photo contest is just such a great idea. If it does nothing else, it brings attention to what your organization is doing. The contest is a way of educating people, bringing awareness to environmental issues and I think it is an overall worthy cause when it comes to making a contribution. Unfortunately, you don’t hear these environmental issues being brought up as much as they should be. The contest is a fun way of doing just that. 

Do you prefer to photograph species or landscapes?

I enjoy landscapes as much as wildlife photography.  I have been on safaris more than a dozen times and they are always engaging! Since I travel a lot, I like being able to paint the picture of the trip with the photos.

Polar bear and cubs,  © Pam Hartman

Grand Prize, 2013 Photo Contest (© Pam Hartman)

Do you have a truly memorable photography experience? 

One of my most visually memorable photography experiences was when I traveled to Antarctica. I thought the scenery there was some of the most beautiful landscape scenery in the world.  Coupled with penguins galore, you just never tire from either one. It was very pristine, calming and just amazing as a destination.  I actually returned to visit Antarctica for the second time recently.

 What kind of advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

You really have to learn about photography inside and out. You have to take that camera off auto or programed!  Just learn about the settings, how to use them and why you use them. I took a photography course once and the instructor said you have to take 100 photos a day to learn how to shoot. Patience is a requirement. It is always better to spend your time and money on learning the art of photography than on equipment. Seriously! Consider what Ansel Adams did in the 40’s without all these pixels! You really just need to have the inspiration. Buying a great camera does not mean you can take great photos. The camera is just there to catch your imagination. I get a real charge out of just being creative with photography. I think as a photographer you need to have the eye to see the picture, and I believe that I was lucky enough to be blessed with that.