6-8 March 2015 Houston, Minnesota USA

HomePhoto Sessions & Photo Contest

Owl Photography Contest

 2013 FirstPlace Great Gray Owl ErikBruhnke small

First Place 2013, Great Gray Owl by Erik Bruhnke

See the top 10 photos from the 2013 contest!


There is only a single category (owls), and the contest is open only to amateur photographers. The owls in the images must not have been baited, lured, or habituated, either by the photographer or anyone else. The entry fee is $5/photo, with a maximum of three entries per person. Entries and payment must be received by February 7, 2014 at 11:59 PM. Each entry should be sent as a separate email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and should be 300 dpi at 8"x10". Photos must not have a watermark or name on them so the judges can evaluate them fairly.  Please include your name, address, phone number, email address, and photo title in the body of the email.

For those who cannot afford the $5 US entry fee, there is the option to request sponsorship of your entry.  A pool of donations will be used to cover one entry per person, and as long as there is money in the pool, additional sponsored entries will be allowed.  Cash awards for sponsored photos will go entirely to the photographer, not the sponsor.  Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request sponsorship of your entry and include some brief information about your need for sponsorship (such as living in a country with low income, very unfavorable currency conversion to US dollars, etc.)

Judges will pick the top 10 finalist photos to be made into 8x10 prints, matted, and displayed at the Houston Nature Center during the International Festival of Owls March 7-9, 2014. The public will vote from the top 10 finalists to determine the winners during the Festival.

First prize: $100, 2nd prize: $25, 3rd prize: $15. Please note that bank or PayPal transfer fees will be deducted from the cash award if the money is transferred to a foreign bank account.


Indoor Owl Photography Opportunity


(c ) Alan Stankevitz

There will be an opportunity to photograph some of the live owls indoors, with a dark curtain as a backdrop at the 2014 Festival of Owls.  One owl will be on a perch or fist at a time, on the stage, with the audience/photographers kept at a minimum distance from the bird. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM and Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 12:00 PM in the gymnasium


Outdoor Owl Photography Sessions

behind the scenes


In 2014 the Outdoor Owl Photography Sessions will be held at a time other than the International Festival of Owls.  Please check back for details.  We will follow a format similar to previous years, as described below.

The birds used are all captives and some have permanent injuries, but they often can be positioned so their disabilities and leather jesses are not visible.

The specific birds used depend on health and training of the birds as well as weather conditions. The owls used in 2013 were Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, and Short-eared Owl.

Please note that there is no guarantee as to which species will attend the photo shoot, as the well-being of the birds is of the highest importance.

Photographers can choose from 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM time slots, and must arrive in time to be ready to begin shooting sharply on time. There will be three photographers per bird, with each group of three photographers rotating to a new owl every 10 minutes.

Proceeds from this session benefit the Houston Nature Center.

Check out a few photos from the 2009 session taken by Alan Stankevitz here.

*This event takes place at the Houston Nature Center.

Cost has been $75/photographer and included a brunch. Pre-registration is required.  Check back for dates for 2014.  Photographers who have previously participated will be notified by email.


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