2021 Photo Contest

2021 Annual Photography Contest

People and the Fox River

It’s time again for our annual photo contest. Each year more local photographers submit more entries to show you “My Favorite Fox River Place” (last year’s theme), or “Life on the Fox River” (2019 theme) in this growing annual celebration of the life and beauty of the river and the land that creates it.

In spite of, or more likely because of the difficulties of the past year, more people explored natural areas along the Fox River and even got out on the river itself. So, this year we’re asking photographers to document all the ways that people interact with the Fox River. Consequently, the theme for our 2021 Annual Photography Contest is “People and the Fox River.”

Tim Carp

Be creative; be poetic, intuitive, and dramatic! As we have seen in previous years, photos that have the biggest impact tell a story; they tell it in touching and surprising ways. We want to see how you capture people using, helping, or just enjoying the Fox River.

The contest begins on February 1, and ends at 11 p.m. on November 10, 2021. You’re welcome to submit photos at any time until the contest ends. There is no entry fee. The contest is open to both members of FOFR and non-members. Whether you are a seasoned professional, you consider photography an exciting hobby, or just a passing interest, we invite you to submit up to 5 photos for this year’s contest. We have great prizes and your photo may be featured in our annual calendar!

2020 will be a year that is long remembered in world history for the COVID-19 pandemic. Sheltering in place, working from home, and being separated from family and friends took a toll on everyone. But one bright spot was, and still is, the peace and healing that visiting natural areas, especially the Fox River, brings to us all. Help us see all the ways people re-created themselves by, on, and in the river that connects us all. Take a great photo of that and we’ll share it with the watershed.

Remember, the Fox River watershed extends from the headwaters near Waukesha to the Illinois River at Ottawa, and includes all the tributaries of the Fox River as well!

Along with your photo, please include a brief description (50+ words or so) of the month, time, and location of your photo, the context, circumstances, weather and any other interesting tidbits to help tell your story. Also, please tell us about your camera, lens and other technical details if you know them (f/stop, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, GPS location, etc.).

There is no entry fee and the contest is open to everyone. Whether you are a seasoned professional, you consider photography an exciting hobby, or you just have a passing interest, we invite you to submit up to 5 photos for this year’s contest.

Friends of the Fox River will select 13 of the submitted photos for our 2022 Calendar. So your photo may grace the walls (and refrigerators) of friends throughout the Fox Valley all next year!

For detailed submission requirements and directions, read or download the complete official contest rules here. Then fill out the submission form below.

taking a dive

So take your best shot and jump in!

Best of luck to all and happy shooting!

Full contest rules are below. Here are the main points:

Eligibility: Legal residents of the United States, 18 and over (unless permitted by parent or guardian). Amateur and professional photographers are both welcome.

Sponsor: The Photo Contest is sponsored by The Friends of the Fox River, PO Box 5634, Elgin, IL 60121-5634 (“Sponsor”). www.friendsofthefoxriver.org

Entry Period: The Photo Contest begins on February 1, 2021 and ends at 11 pm CST on November 10, 2021 (the “Entry Period”). Entries submitted before or after the Entry Period will not be eligible. Sponsor’s computer is the official time-keeping device for the Photo Contest

What to Enter: This year’s theme is “PEOPLE AND THE FOX RIVER” What that means may be quite different to people and purposely so.

To ensure eligibility for the contest all entries must have a resolution of 6 million pixels or greater (6 megapixels). All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (removal of dust, cropping, reasonable adjustments to exposure, color and contrast, etc.) may be disqualified.

Entries may originate in any format — including, but not limited to digital files, digital prints, color transparencies, color prints, or black and white prints — so long as they are submitted electronically in a .jpeg, .jpg or .gif format. Multiple exposures that have been combined to produce a single “High Dynamic Range” image are acceptable.

Previously published material for which non-exclusive rights were granted may be entered as long as you still maintain the right to grant us a license (see “Your Rights” below). You must be able to disclose when and where the photo appeared previously to Friends of the Fox River upon request.

If you include people (who may be recognizable) in your submission, you are responsible for obtaining the necessary releases from the individuals depicted, and must be able to provide copies of those releases to Friends of the Fox River upon request.

Please do not include the following:

  • Photos that violate or infringe upon another person’s rights, including but not limited to copyright.
  • Photos that contain sexually explicit, nude, obscene, violent or other objectionable or inappropriate content
  • Images that involve the willful harassment of wildlife, or damage to the environment by the photographer
  • Images that involve putting any individual or animal in danger.
  • Images that include any type of political or religious symbolism or message.

Friends of the Fox River shall determine entry eligibility in its sole and absolute discretion.

How to Enter

Registration is FREE for all entrants (including both members and non-members), although we encourage all entrants to consider a membership or donation to FOFR. Becoming a member or making a donation will not affect the judges decisions.

Fill out the application form at the bottom of this page.

Each image must be submitted through the form below including all required fields, including name, email and other information about your photo submission.

Individuals are allowed to submit a maximum of five (5) photographs. Sponsor reserves the right to reject any additional entries or entries that do not comply with these Official Rules. By entering, you indicate your unconditional agreement to, and acceptance of, these Official Rules and Sponsor’s decisions, which are final and binding. You cannot win a prize unless you comply with all requirements in these Official Rules.

Entrants shall also include a brief description (100 words or less) of each photograph, which may be used in future publications.


Photos will be judged on originality, technical excellence, composition, overall impact, artistic merit  and subject matter relevance, except that the People’s Choice award will be determined based on an online Facebook vote. Judging will be conducted by a panel of Friends of the Fox River board directors and a group of guest judges to be selected by the Board at its sole discretion (the “Panel”).  The Panel will evaluate all valid entries and pick the following winners in the following categories:

  1. Overall (2 winners. 1 first prize, 1 runner-up): You’ve nailed it. Your images rise above the rest and encapsulate the Fox River in a stunning way.
  2. Honorable Mention (3 winners or more): at the discretion of the Panel
  3. “People’s Choice”: a Facebook vote based on a pre-selected group of photos

Winners will be notified within 30 days of the end of the contest, and the entries will appear on The Friends of the Fox River website within 45 days after the close of the contest period.

All judging decisions are final. Please do not contact us about the status of entries or judging.

The Friends of the Fox River will notify the winner via the contact information provided at the time of entry.

Potential Winner Requirements

Except where prohibited, a potential winner may be required to complete and return an affidavit of eligibility, including proof of age, and liability/publicity release within 14 days. If a potential winner is a minor, his/her parent or legal guardian will be required to sign the documents on his/her behalf. If a potential winner fails to return these documents on time, an alternate potential winner may be selected in his/her place in a random drawing of all remaining entries received. Only three (3) alternate potential winners may be contacted per category.


The Friends of the Fox River will award the following prizes.

One (1) Overall grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Gift Certificate from one of our Sponsors (to be determined)
  • One year membership to “Friends of the Fox River”
  • Mention on the Friends of the Fox River’s digital presences

One (1) Overall runner-up winner will receive:

  • A Gift Certificate from one of our Sponsors (to be determined)
  • One year membership to “Friends of the Fox River”
  • Mention on the Friends of the Fox River’s digital presences

Three (3) or more Honorable Mentions will receive:

  • Mention on the Friends of the Fox River’s digital presences

Prizes will only be shipped to an address in the United States.

All winners are responsible for paying any income taxes and any and all other costs and expenses not listed above. Any prize details not specified above will be determined by Sponsor, in its sole discretion. A prize may not be transferred and must be accepted as awarded. A winner may not request cash or a substitute prize; however, Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize with another prize of equal or greater value if the prize is not available for any reason, as determined by Sponsor, in its sole discretion.

Your Rights

Your photographs help bring awareness of the Fox River’s environmental impact as well as the recreational opportunities that it provides. Thank you for helping to further our mission through your photography.

You will retain mutual usage rights to any photograph you submit

If you submit a photograph to enter the Photo Contest, you grant The Friends of the Fox River a royalty-free, nonexclusive right, in perpetuity, to:

  • Display the photo in both electronic and print form for any use in furtherance of the FOFR mission
  • Use the photograph in the Friends of the Fox River’s internal and external communications materials including but not limited to web sites and web publications, fact sheets, fund raising publications, advertising, multimedia presentation, social media, membership services and annual report.
  • Provide your photograph to other individuals and organizations for Fox River-related use in news stories, newsletters, reports, slide shows, displays, web pages, videos, membership premiums, and the like.
  • Use, in connection with the Photo Contest, your name, city, state and country of residence in promotions and other publications.
  • Retain a digital copy of your photograph that will be archived in the Friends of the Fox River photo library and accessible to the board staff via the internal online photo archive.
  • The Friends of the Fox River will endeavor to credit all photographs with the caption “Person’s Name” when the full name is available.

General Conditions

In the event that the operation, security, or administration of the Photo Contest is impaired in any way, Sponsor may, in its sole discretion, either: (a) suspend the Photo Contest to address the impairment and then resume the Photo Contest; or (b) award the prize(s) from among the eligible entries received up to the time of the impairment. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify and seek damages from any individual who tampers with the operation of the Photo Contest, violates these Official Rules, or acts in a disruptive or unsportsmanlike manner. Sponsor’s failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. Proof of sending any communication to Sponsor by mail shall not be deemed proof of receipt of that communication by Sponsor. In the event of a dispute as to the owner of an online entry, the authorized account holder of the e-mail address used to enter will be deemed to be the owner. The Photo Contest is subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations and is void where prohibited.

Release and Limitations of Liability

By entering, you agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor, affiliates, and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, and agents (the “Released Parties”) from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of participation in the Photo Contest or receipt or use of any prize, including, but not limited to: (a) unauthorized human intervention in the Photo Contest; (b) technical errors; (c) printing errors; (d) late or undelivered mail; (e) errors in the administration of the Photo Contest; or (f) injury or damage to persons or property. You waive the right to claim any attorney’s fees and any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, direct, or indirect damages.


When you enter, you will automatically become an e-supporter of the Friends of the Fox River. This includes special event invitations and digital messages. You may cancel and unsubscribe at any time.

Privacy and Publicity

The information you provide when you enter is provided to Sponsor. Except where prohibited, you consent to Sponsor’s use of your name in any list of winners (if applicable) and for promotional purposes in any media without further payment or consideration. View our complete privacy policy here.


You agree that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Photo Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in Illinois. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, your rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of Sponsor in connection with the Photo Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of Illinois, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of Illinois or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than Illinois.


To request a winners list, email photocontest@friendsofthefoxriver.org. Requests must be received by December 31, 2021.


Questions and inquiries about contest rules can be emailed to photocontest@friendsofthefoxriver.org, or call Eric Pepa at 847-212-6576.

Annual Photo Contest Entry Form

  • Max. file size: 25 MB.
    Please include your first and last name in the file name of your photo. You may submit up to FIVE (5) photos.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.