Thankful for Parks: Amateur Photography Show & Contest

All photos tell a story. Whether you are a child taking a photo for the first time, a hiker using your phone camera, or a lifelong photographer, we want to see the parks through your lens!

Show us how much you love the parks by submitting your photos of them for the Thankful for Parks: Amateur Photography Show! All submissions will be displayed for a month at Eastman Nature Center and will have a chance at winning prizes as described below. 

Whether you're a photographer or a parks visitor, you can vote for your favorite photo to win a People’s Favorite award! Favorite photographs will be honored in a second display at Lowry Nature Center in early 2025. See voting information below. 

Key Dates

  • Submission window: Sunday, September 1, 2024, through Monday, November 1, 2024
  • Eastman Nature Center show: Sunday, November 24, 2024, through Tuesday, December 17, 2024
  • Lowry "Best of" show: Opens January 2025 (date TBD)

Entry Categories

Share how nature and being outdoors has inspired or soothed you. Photos will be organized into the following categories:

  • Recreation and Community
  • Insects and Spiders
  • Other Wildlife
  • Plants and Fungi
  • Landscapes


The People’s Favorite awards allow the public to choose their most-liked photo from submissions!

Visit the show at Eastman Nature Center from November 24 through December 17 to submit your ballot. 

Winners will be announced before the end of the year. 


Random prize drawing

One award will be given in each age division. Each photo submitted (maximum 3 per person) is one entry for the random prize drawing to win.

  • Adult: One seasonal recreation pass of your choice for a Three Rivers activity
  • Youth (under 18): Choice of two of the following activities (one activity at Eastman Nature Center and one activity at Lowry Nature Center)
    • free rental of the outdoor classroom and fire pit
    • four free passes for snowshoe rentals
    • four free passes for kicksled rental (only available at Lowry) 

People’s Favorite Award

One award will be given in each age division based on popular vote. In addition, People's Favorite Award winners, and other top favorites in each submission category, will be honored as a traveling exhibit. The exhibit will start at Lowry Nature Center in January and move to other Three Rivers sites throughout 2025.

Contest Rules

  1. Amateur photographers only. 

    An amateur photographer is anyone who does not earn money as a photographer. We realize some amateur photographers have professional skills. Please use discretion in deciding if you should enter this contest, which is designed to encourage everyday visitors to share favorite moments in the outdoors. As a guideline, if you earn money in photographic sales or regularly enter and place highly in photography contests, you should not consider yourself an amateur for purposes of this contest.
  2. There is a limit of three photos per person. See submission information below.
  3. All photos must be submitted by email as a digital JPG file after registration.
  4. Photographs must be taken at any Three Rivers Park District site or feature scenery, vegetation, wildlife or activities that would normally be found in the parks.
  5. Photos may not be digitally altered beyond standard optimization. Alterations such as cropping or reasonable adjustments to exposure, color and contrast are acceptable, but all photographs must accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared. Please do not include watermarks on the images; photographer credit will be assigned after printing. Images will be cropped by the printer to 8”x10” format.
  6. Photographs featuring domestic animals, garden plants and annual flowers are not eligible in the Insects and Spiders, Other Wildlife and Plants/Fungi categories.
  7. Landscapes photographs may have contemporary, human-made objects (e.g.,. bridges, buildings, fences) or domestic plants or animals but they must not be the main focus of the picture.
  8. Photographs submitted in the Recreation/Community category should feature the outdoor activities of Three Rivers sites and visitors.
  9. All photographs are equally eligible and count as one entry for the random prize drawing and one entry for the People’s Favorite Award in either the Youth (under 18) or Adult divisions.  
  10. All entries will be printed by the Park District and become the property of Three Rivers Park District. If you mark “no” to marketing use on your entry form, the print will be destroyed following the contest.
  11. Submitted photos may be used for Three Rivers Park District educational and promotional purposes, including but not limited to social media, blogs, website, email, brochures, flyers, signage, etc., unless otherwise noted on the entry form. In these cases, photo credit is not always be possible.
  12. Three Rivers Park District employees and immediate family members are ineligible to enter.
  13. Three Rivers volunteers may enter the contest; however, a photograph taken while volunteering may not be submitted (it may not be entered into the show and submitted for other publication with Three Rivers). 
  14. This contest is for fun, prizes are modest, and voting will take place on-site at Eastman, with one vote per visitor. 

Fees and How to Submit

1. Prepare your photos.

  • Select up to three unmodified digital images (OK to crop/clean, adjust minimally).
  • Choose what category your photograph should be hung within when on display. Use the initial of the category you choose as the first character in the name of your digital file.
    • I = Insects
    • L = Landscapes
    • P = Plants & Fungi
    • R = Recreation & Community
    • W = Other Wildlife
  • Rename your digital file in this format:
    X LASTNAME FIRSTINITIAL 2024 2-3 short, descriptive words
    • Examples: 
      P DOE J 2024 Pretty Tree
      W SMITH N 2024 Three Ducks
  • If you cannot rename your file, please list the title using this format in the body of your submission email and during registration.

2. Register and submit your payment.

  • The submission fee is $6 per photo ($3 entry fee plus $3 for printing/handling).
  • Register and pay now. Note: You must pay through a household account. For youth photographer submissions, please be sure to make the registration in the child’s name. For help creating your account or for related questions, please call Reservations at 763-559-6700.

3. Submit your entry.

  • Start an email to with the subject "Photo Show Entry".
  • Attach your digital image(s). (If you were unable to rename the photo file, share the properly formatted title of each photograph within the body of the email.)
  • Include your payment receipt number in the body of your email, found in your emailed confirmation.
  • Send before noon on Monday, November 4.