World-renowned international photo competition awards awe-inspiring wildlife and conservation images with cash prizes and museum exhibition
"Hare Ball" by photographer Andy Parkinson, BigPicture 2020 Grand Prize winner
San Francisco (December 1, 2020) — Submissions for the California Academy of Sciences’ 2021 BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition will be open from December 1, 2020 – March 1, 2021. Featuring the work of the world’s best nature and conservation photographers, the competition focuses a visual lens on the extraordinary wonders of the natural world and the importance of protecting our planet. Winners of this year’s BigPicture competition will receive a cash prize and have their photographs featured in an exhibit on the public floor of the Academy’s iconic museum in Golden Gate Park. View winning images from BigPicture 2020 here.
Award-winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas will chair the competition’s panel of esteemed judges for an eighth year, joined by international photo editor Sophie Stafford, and award-winning nature and conservation photographers Michael Aw, Shem Compion, Claudio Contreras Koob, Inka Cresswell, Jasper Doest, Morgan Heim, and Rathika Ramasamy.
Attracting submissions from exceptional photographers from around the world, the competition again seeks professional-level nature, wildlife, and conservation images and is open to all photographers with the ability to tell evocative, captivating stories from the natural world through their pictures. This year, the competition includes a new “out of the ordinary” photo story category focusing on images that capture the truly unique and unexpected events that occur in nature. bioGraphic, the Academy’s online magazine about science and sustainability, is the competition’s official media sponsor.
Since launching in 2014, BigPicture has established a fast-growing reputation within the photography community, receiving one of just a handful of recommendations from The 2020 Photographer’s Guide to Photo Contests by PhotoShelter, one of the world’s top online photography resources. The competition was also named one of the Top 15 Photography Contests & Prizes in 2020 by Pixpa, a leading online portfolio service for photographers, and was included in My Modern Met’s list of 30+ Best Photography Competitions to Elevate Your Craft.
Last year’s BigPicture competition received over 6,400 submissions from photographers representing 65 countries. The Grand Prize-winning image, by wildlife photographer Andy Parkinson of Crich, United Kingdom, shows a Scottish hare sheltering in place against a winter storm. Parkinson spent years braving sub-arctic conditions and familiarizing himself with this individual hare before snapping this remarkable photo.
The Grand Prize and First Place Category winners and their work will be honored at an awards ceremony in July 2021. Awards include a total of $12,000 in cash prizes with winning images featured in a BigPicture photography exhibit at the Academy opening July 31, 2021.
Paid image submissions will be accepted online from December 1, 2020 – March 1, 2021. Entry fees are $15 for the photo story category (4 – 6 images) and $25 for up to ten individual image submissions.
Art of Nature
Abstract expressions of nature and/or science. Life photographed out in nature or under the microscope. Images may include unusual close-ups, angles, patterns, motion, or perspectives, black and white photography, and images created using scientific imaging tools. Artistic effects should not be the result of digital manipulations.
Animals including mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates—like corals and jellyfish—that spend the majority of their time in water. This category includes polar bears.
Landscapes, Waterscapes, & Flora
Captivating images of wild places with a unique perspective, from expansive landscape vistas of forests, deserts, and mountains to the microhabitats of plants and other flora. Images may include water environments of oceans, lakes, and rivers with images taken above or under water including waves, tide pools, and other water scenes.
Birds or flying insects photographed anywhere in the world—in flight, perched, or in action. This category also includes flightless birds such as penguins and ostriches.
Animals photographed anywhere in the world. Images may include land-based mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and non-flying insects whether they live in trees or on land.
Images that depict the efforts of scientists, conservationists, and others working to sustain life on our planet, or the complex relationship between humans and nature. Images should illustrate the impacts of humans on the environment and can be either positive or negative stories.
New! 2021 Photo Story: Out of the Ordinary
A 4–6 image submission with captions. Extraordinary events are occurring in the natural world—some start in very ordinary ways. A rehabilitated animal takes on a new role as a wildlife ambassador. Ordinary backyards produce unexpected beauty. Unlikely species interact in unfamiliar environments. Rarely-seen plants and animals exhibit surprising characteristics. Basic elements like wind, water, fire, and air act in unanticipated ways. This year’s photo story shows us the world anew. Submitted images must not violate any laws, regulations, or BigPicture rules
If you are a journalist and would like to receive Academy press releases please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi-res and low-res image downloads are available for editorial use. Contact us at email@example.com to request access.