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Frequently Asked Questions

Please see the Official Contest Rules, Guidelines and Prizes for more information.

What does “Best of the Decade” special edition mean?

In honor of the 2020 contest year, we have introduced a special edition, one-year-only theme: “Best of the Decade.” This year’s special edition contest celebrates photos taken over the last ten years through 2020. So, dust off your ol’ photo albums (we know, they’re likely online!) and submit some of your favorite memories, or let this year’s winning photos inspire you to #RecreateResponsibly and take some great shots to enter.

How do I submit a photo?

Simply create an account or login and select “Enter” along the top navigation bar to follow the easy submission process (you must have an account to submit a photo). This includes providing the photo information, agency, photographer information and, of course, uploading the photo to our database. As soon as the photo is received it will be reviewed to ensure it has met all the qualifications before being loaded on the website. Photos may take up to 72 hours to be moderated.

I’m trying to submit my photo, but the I can’t find the “Enter” tab?

Employees of participating agencies are ineligible to enter the contest, if you selected that you were an employee when you created your account the function to enter will be disabled. If you are not an employee of one of the participating agencies, and checked this box in error, please contact sharetheexperience@recreation.gov to remove this restriction.

Why doesn’t my photo or comment appear on the website immediately after submission?

All photos and comments enter a moderation queue once received to ensure they meet various qualifications before being loaded on the website. Photos and comments may take up to 72 hours to be moderated. If your photo or comment still does not appear after 72 hours, you can contact sharetheexperience@recreation.gov for more details. Due to the large volume of submissions we do not contact participants individually when a photo is rejected.

Are photos taken on city and state lands eligible?

The photo must be taken on federal public lands or waters managed by one of the following participating agencies:

  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

What other requirements are there for the photo?

The photo must be your photo, meaning you must have taken the photo, not just taken on your camera. Anyone in the photo must know they are in the photo and must have given consent to appear in the photo. The photo must not contain watermarks, writing or symbols of any kind.

When can photos be submitted?

The contest will be open for entries from June 25, 2020 to December 31, 2020, and the winners will be announced Spring/Summer 2021.

Does my photo need to be taken this year?

For the 2020 “Best of the Decade” special edition contest photos must be taken between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2020.

What size does the photo need to be?

The recommended size of the photo is at least 2 MB and preferably 300dpi. The winning photos must be of sufficient quality to use in print publications. Photos less then 2MB will be accepted but may not be eligible to win prizes.

Can I submit my photo in a format other than JPEG?

As per the contest rules photos are required to be in JPEG format. We are not able to accept photos in any other format at this time.

How many photos can I enter?

Entries are limited to ten (10) per month (First day of each month 12:00am ET- last day of each month 11:59pm ET) during the duration of the contest. Be sure to act as your own photo editor and send us the best of the best!

Can I enter the same photograph into multiple categories?

It is not uncommon for photos to fall into multiple categories; however, each photo can only be entered once – so choose your category wisely! An overwhelming amount of entries are submitted to Scenic, Seasons & Landscapes (in 2019 almost 60% of photos were entered into this category), while great categories like Friends, Family & Fun, Historical and Cultural, and Urban Playgrounds receive fewer entries overall. Each category has such potential, so be intentional and creative when choosing your photo category!

Do I still retain the rights to my submitted photos?

Participants retain ownership of all photos submitted. For more information on how your photos can be used please refer to the official contest rules.

Some photos on the website appear to have manipulations; how do you monitor this?

Due to the volume of submissions, it is difficult to closely screen for manipulations when accepting photos. Acceptance of a photo submission is not a certification the photo has met the requirements of the official contest rules. All finalist photos are closely vetted. To ensure compliance with the alteration and manipulations rules, for those photos that are finalists the Contest Sponsors have the right to request the photographer provide the file that was recorded by the camera, such as RAW files. All annual winners are also required to sign an affidavit certifying their photo adheres to the official contest rules.

What is the Federal Recreation Lands Pass?

The Federal Recreation Lands Pass - an annual pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at participating national parks and national wildlife refuges, as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. A pass covers entrance and standard amenity fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 and under are admitted free. The pass is distributed to approximately 500,000 people annually.

Get your pass now at Recreation.gov!

What's the Fan Favorite?

The Fan Favorite is a unique category with two special winners. Visitors to www.sharetheexperience.org are invited to view all the photos that have been submitted. From these photos they are able to vote on their favorite shots. At the end of the contest we will take the top 10 vote getters and our judges will pick two of those photos as the winners. Winners will enjoy these great prizes.

How can people vote on their favorite photos?

People can vote on their fan favorites on the www.sharetheexperience.org site. One vote per email address, but you can vote for as many photos as you would like, just once each. Any evidence of tampering, automation or any other method of forgery will result in immediate disqualification.

What's the Monthly Winner?

The monthly winners are guaranteed a spot in the final judging phase, three winners will be picked each full month of the contest (submissions received in June will be considered as part of the month of July). The photo will be picked by a judging panel and will be selected based on the same judging criteria as the overall winner: originality, artistic composition, technical quality, photographic technique and showcasing the best of America's recreational opportunities. The monthly winners will not only receive an automatic entry into the judging phase but will also receive a Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass.

Where will the images be displayed?

The images will be displayed on www.sharetheexperience.org. From there depending on how your photo does in the contest, you could find your photo displayed on the front of the Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass!

What do you do with the information you collect?

We value your personal information as well as your privacy and adhere to strict laws and practices when it comes to that information. Please see our Privacy Policy for more specific info.

Who can I contact for more information?

Please email: sharetheexperience@recreation.gov


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