The 2023 Photography Contest: We asked photographers to imagine the many ways that humans and wildlife are intricately tied together in a world that is continuously adapting and changing: What is your relationship with nature? How do you observe both human and natural processes? In what ways do you see social and ecological issues coincide?

Many impressive images were submitted, and we thank all who participated.

Below is the winning photo and the finalists. Enjoy the creative expression of many talented GYE photographers!


Title: Shared Home

Photographer: Julia Cook


“I took this image after looking at some bear tracks along a muddy riverbank while on a hike. I hadn’t even noticed that I was walking in stride with the bear tracks. I love knowing that we share the same home range as grizzlies, and with it, share the same rivers and forests too.”

Judge’s commentary: I love this image for the intimacy it portrays, linking humans and wildlife together. From the juxtaposition of the two very different tracks in the mud, to how they even curve towards one another, this is a powerful image that portrays exactly what the symposium is about.

I love tracks – knowing that I am where the wild things are. Nothing feels more exciting to me than seeing the stories of wildlife before me. “Shared Home” is exactly what the GYE is all about – sharing and negotiating space with wildlife. In keeping the wild wild, and having respect when in their home, we enjoy connecting to nature in this most sacred of places. This image gives me all the tingles and excitement of being in truly wild places.


Title: Caught

Photographer: Kristin Hugo


“I knew this deer was beyond rescue as soon as I saw him caught in the fence. Death is an unmistakable calmness. A creature immobilized forever is a sad sight, but his stillness sure made it easy for me to take pictures. As I walked around him, a story unfolded.

First, the only blood I saw in the snow was around where his antlers would have been, suggesting that someone had come along and sawed them off. Second, there were coyote tracks leading from another deer carcass, about four or five meters away, to him, but he was intact. Third, about ten meters away, there was a mound of dirt with deer hoofprints in it, a gap in the fence, and a trail cam — indicating that someone had set up a safe way for him and his kin to cross. I guess he didn’t see it.”

Judge’s commentary: This image is an eerie look into the many faceless deaths at the hands of human settlements. The colors in the powdery winter blue and the warm orangey-beige of the deer’s thick winter fur make this image beautifully serene in the stillness and finality of long-sleep. The beauty and horror make this an arresting image.

Title: Guardian of the Den

Photographer: Anthony Gianacakos


“In the small, picturesque town of Cooke City, amidst a dilapidated cabin, a tender moment of human-wildlife coexistence unfolded. My photo captures a captivating sight: a baby fox curiously peeking out from behind the cabin, its eyes filled with courage and responsibility. Below the cabin’s worn walls, a fox den became a haven for a loving family. Seven siblings and their wise mama found safety and shelter in this unlikely urban setting. As I observed, a brave young fox emerged, eager to take charge and ensure the coast was clear for its siblings and mama to play, hunt, and find their dinner.

The image tells a powerful tale of harmony between humans and wildlife, proving that even in a town just outside of Yellowstone National park, nature can thrive. Let this photo remind us all of the beauty in coexistence and the need to preserve these delicate connections with the world around us. Together, we can protect and nurture the wonders of the wild.”

Judge’s commentary: This perfectly shows the delicate balance of the larger wildlife that has been crafty and adaptable enough to live amongst humans. The baby fox, fully in the open, is unafraid yet cautious, as most wildlife should be in human areas. There is still a wildness in this fox, as revealed by the cautious pose. What a treat it is for woodland creatures to coexist with us!

Title: Road Block

Photographer: Josh Shandera


“Two bison calves known as “red dogs”, blocked the road and created a miniature traffic jam. Nothing was more important to them in that moment than establishing who was the stronger of the two during their sparring session.”

Judge’s commentary: Featuring two newborn bison (and a clearly visible umbilical cord) in front of a car on the road, this image details the challenges wildlife face in navigating through human impacted landscapes.

Title: Follow the Leader

Photographer: Josh Shandera


“This little black bear cub cried from one side of the road while cars prevented him from crossing. Ultimately, the sow made her way back across the road to show her little one the way.”

Judge’s commentary: A beautiful image featuring a black bear sow leading her tiny cub across the road, this photo not only shows the connection between mom and baby, but how wildlife and humans (and our structures) are irrevocably connected to each other.

Title: Line-up

Photographer: Sam Maher

“Every spring, thousands of moose, mule deer, and elk drop their antlers around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where they are then picked up by antler collectors known as “shed” or “horn” hunters. As shed hunting grows in popularity, potentially as a response to recent spikes in antler prices, and harsh winters generate calls for winter range closures into the late spring, questions over how to (and IF we should) manage antler collection come to the forefront of wildlife management discussions. This year, I spent the spring shed hunting season in the GYE travelling amongst popular sites and attending antler season openers and auctions, collecting data for my PhD dissertation. I shot this photo up the North Fork of the Shoshone outside of Cody on my way out to convince some shed hunters to participate in my data collection process. This group of cows were travelling in an orderly fashion across someone’s property, I can only assume to reach the alfalfa fields to the north. I wonder if they know what all this fuss over antlers is about…”

Judge’s commentary: A multi-layered image, from the elk in the foreground to the ranch behind and the striations in the rocks above, it beautifully ties together the theme of coexistence.

Title: The Next Step

Photographer: Ben Bluhm


“This yearling cinnamon cub began to cross the road to follow its mother, a beautiful cinnamon black bear. To me, this image captures “the next step” of the wild, mixed with man’s invasion into nature.

The wild is already ruthless—when will that cub’s next step be its last? Could it be another male black bear coming in and eating it—or will a hunter gun it down some day? What is your next step?”

Judge’s commentary: I love the feel of this image – it feels like the pending loss of innocence. A black bear yearling cautiously almost leaves the boundary of the wild to enter a world wrought with human-wildlife interactions. It is almost a departing of innocence, childhood, and entering an adult space. I almost want to scream at the young bear, “No! Turn around! Go back!”

Title: Bison Jam

Photographer: Julia Cook


“During the bison rut, a large traffic jam was created by bulls pursuing cows through the road. People stopping to view the animals made traffic worse, but the bison only seemed to care about competing bulls, only giving the occasional side eye to onlookers.”

Judge’s commentary: A common scene throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, this image of a bison jam beautifully captures the feel of the congestion and chaos (and excitement) experienced when wildlife come close to roadways within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Title: Snow Crossing

Photographer: Julia Cook


“This grizzly had been eating a freshly caught marmot off the side of the road until a bison approached and startled her. She took off running before crossing the road on a blind corner in the heavy snow. Luckily, the drivers stopped and avoided a collision.”

Judge’s commentary: This image feels chaotic and stressful. The dangerous blizzard conditions, the cars that look like they almost crashed, the bear running away with sustenance – scary! “Snow Crossing” shows the brutal and scary side of being in nature. Things aren’t always pristine, easy and Disneyland-like. This image shows that collision of reality.

Meet the Judges

Kate Ochsman

Kate Ochsman is a wildlife photographer and safari guide. With her heart in conservation, Kate has worked in Namibia on human-elephant coexistence, runs a conservation-themed youth program in South Africa, and does fine art and photography for nonprofits.  She owns her own guiding company in Gardiner, All Things Wild, and takes guests on photography tours of Yellowstone and abroad.

R.J. Turner

R.J. Turner is a conservation photographer, who combines her love for the natural world with her photography to help bring change across continents. As a conservation photographer for over a decade, she has worked in Kenya, Uganda, Southern Africa, and Wyoming. R.J. is the Photographer-in-Residence at NRCC.

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