The Tennessee Magazine is happy to help the Division of Natural Areas and Tennessee State Parks celebrate 50 years of the Natural Areas Preservation Act with a Shutterbug Photography Contest.
Since the Natural Areas Preservation Act was signed on May 4, 1971, nearly 130,000 acres of pristine forests; scenic vistas; and undisturbed wetlands, grasslands, barrens and glades that are home to some of Tennessee’s rarest species have been preserved.
We want you to get out and enjoy these natural areas with your camera or smartphone and send us your best shots. Subjects could be sunrises to sunsets, closeups to landscapes, trails to scenic overlooks and wildflowers to wildlife. Images can include people or not, and they can be selfies. Enter any image you have already photographed at a Tennessee State Natural area in past years.
As you accept this challenge, please stay safe and follow all rules and regulations of the natural areas. Perhaps most importantly, stay on the trails. It is against natural area rules and is a fineable violation to venture off trail. Many of these locations are home to rare plants and animals whose habitats are easily disturbed and damaged by unwitting visitors.
Entries will be judged on sharpness, composition, lighting, creativity and adherence to the contest rules. Photographs can be black and white or color.
Note: By entering the contest, photographers do not lose their copyright, but you do automatically give The Tennessee Magazine, Division of Natural Areas and Tennessee State Parks permission to publish the winning images in print and digital publications and on websites.
online entries only via tnmagazine.org.
Entries must be entered online by midnight (Central Standard Time) on Wednesday, March 31. Winners will be published in the May issue.
- Shutterbugs 18 and older
- Junior Shutterbugs 17 and younger
Judges will select a first-, second- and third-place winner in each division and age group. These prizes will be awarded: First place wins $150, second place $100 and third place $50.
Natural area rules
Photographers and their subjects are expected to follow all rules and regulations posted by each state natural area. Noncompliance will result in disqualifications. These regulations include but are not limited to staying on marked trails, keeping your distance from wildlife, and keeping dogs on leashes and on approved trails. Feeding any wildlife is not allowed. Please follow any CDC COVID-19 guidelines as posted by the natural area.
- The contest is open to amateur and professional photographers. For the purposes of this competition, you are considered a professional if you regularly sell your images or garner more than 50 percent of your income from photography.
- Photographs must have been taken at one of Tennessee’s state natural areas that are open to the public. Visit tn.gov/content/tn/environment/program-areas/na-natural-areas/list-of-natural-areas.html to see a full list of designated state natural areas .
- Photographs must have been taken by you.
- Extensive digital manipulation of photographs is prohibited. The use of photo-editing software should be limited. Adjusting exposure, color balance, contrast and sharpness is allowable, but highly manipulating colors and content of images is not.
- A photographer can enter no more than three photographs. There is no cost to enter.
- All entries must be made online. We won’t accept prints for this contest. Sign on to
to complete the form and upload your photograph(s).
- Employees of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives or Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and their immediate families are not eligible to win.
- Please include the name of each recognizable person, if any other than yourself, in your photograph. It is the photographer’s responsibility to have the subject’s permission to enter his or her image in the contest. You must include the subject’s name and contact information with your submission. Omitting any of this information can result in disqualification.
- By entering the contest, photographers automatically give The Tennessee Magazine permission to publish the winning images in print and digital publications, to social media and on websites.