2023 Photo Contest

2023 Annual Photography Contest

What do YOU Love about the Fox River?

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It’s time again for the Friends of the Fox River (FOTFR) annual photo contest. Each year more and more local photographers submit entries to show us “Give us YOUR Best Shot” (2022), “People and the Fox River” (2021), “My Favorite Fox River Place” (2020), and “Life on the Fox River” (2019) in this growing annual celebration of the life and beauty of the river and the land that creates it.

This year we’re asking you to send us pictures that depict the things you love about the Fox River. Consequently, the theme for our 2023 Annual Photography Contest is “What do YOU love about the Fox River?”.

So, what do you love? Is it wildlife, landscape, people enjoying the Fox – paddling, the Fabulous Fox River Trail, your downtown on the Fox? Share and enter to win.

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 what you feel are your best photographs along the Fox River.

The contest closes at 11 p.m. on October 28, 2023. There is no entry fee. The contest is open to both Friends of FOTFR and those that have not yet become a Friend. 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 prizes for the winner and runner-up, and your photo may be featured in our annual calendar!

Along with your photo, please include a brief description (50+ words or so), including 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.).

Friends of the Fox River committee members will select the winning photos for cameo use in our promotions and calendar. Your Best Shot(s) may be seen by Friends throughout the Fox River Watershed! Remember, the Fox River watershed extends from the headwaters near Waukesha, Wisconsin to the Illinois River at Ottawa, and includes all the tributaries of the Fox River as well!

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So take your best shot and jump in!

Best of luck to all and happy shooting!

This contest has closed and is no longer accepting entries.

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 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 ends at 11 pm CST on October 28, 2023. Entries submitted after the Entry Deadline 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 “What do YOU Love about 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:

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  • 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 friends and prospective friends), although we encourage all entrants to consider a membership or donation to FOTFR. Becoming a member or making a donation will not affect the judges decisions.

Fill out the application form on 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 (50 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; 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 these categories:

  1. Overall (2 winners. 1 first prize, 1 runner-up): You’ve nailed it. Your images rise above the rest and capture 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.

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Male Indigo Bunting, photo by Tom Schrader.

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.

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Photograph by Ruth Mellenthin.

One (1) Overall grand prize winner will receive:

  • A gift certificate from one of our sponsors (to be determined)
  • A Friendship with “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)
  • A Friendship with “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 FOTFR 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, Friendship 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 and 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.
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General Conditions

In the event that the operation, security, or administration of the photo contest is impaired in any way, the 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 the 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 the sponsor. In the event of a dispute as to the owner of an online entry, the authorized account holder of the email 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.

E-Friend of the Fox River

When you enter, you will automatically become a Friend of Friends of the Fox River. This includes special event invitations and digital messages, including our weekly newsletter. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Fox River Photo Winner 2021

Privacy and Publicity

The information you provide when you enter is provided to the 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 the 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, 2023.


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