The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition champions ethical wildlife photography, the faithful representation of the natural world, free from excessive digital adjustment, with honesty in all captioning, and with total regard for the welfare of the animals and their environment.
The award categories encourage a blend of technological innovation and artistic freedom, within the competition’s rules and image editing guidelines, while also emphasising integrity and truthfulness of interpretation.
If you’re 17 years old or under, find out about the Young categories.
A good portrait reveals something about its subject beyond the obvious. Images may be either close-up or mid-range, and should convey a sense of intimacy, personality and spirit – the very essence of the animal – in a fresh and imaginative way.
Behaviour: Cold-Blooded Animals
Images should reveal memorable, unusual or dramatic behaviour with aesthetic impact.
Animals in their Environment
Images must convey a feeling of the relationship between an animal and the place where it lives, and have a great sense of atmosphere.
Recalling the traditional classification of the botanical kingdom, the focus of this category is plants, fungi, algae and slime moulds. Images should capture the beauty, mystery, majesty, fragility and diversity of the subject, whether in close-up or as part of the wider world.
This category focuses on aquatic ecosystems and the marine and freshwater species that inhabit them. Images may be portraits, action shots or wide shots, but must always be photographed under the water.
Images should reflect the scale and magnitude of land, sky and sea, as well as the diverse and breathtaking effects of the natural forces responsible for sculpting these environments.
Images must capture the magic of the commonplace. They must be surprising, stirring, revelatory compositions that focus on nature’s occupation of the man-made environment.
Nature in Black and White
This category focuses on the skilful use of the black-and-white medium to enhance a striking composition. All subject matter covered in other categories is eligible.
This category is for conceptual images – unexpected views of nature, whether figurative or abstract – which will be judged purely on their artistic merits.
Eric Hosking Portfolio Award
Named after the pioneering natural history photographer, this award is open to aspiring young wildlife photographers between the ages of 18 and 26 with portfolios of between 6 to 10 images to submit. The Jury will select the portfolio of the strongest 6 images for the Eric Hosking Portfolio Award. All subject matter covered in other categories is eligible.
Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Species
Named after the visionary naturalist and conservationist, this award seeks to raise awareness of those species in danger of extinction. Any species featured must be listed at an international or national level as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, or near threatened in the 2012 IUCN Red List.
World in Our Hands Award
This category explores the increasingly complex relationship between people and the environment by documenting both destructive and constructive influences. Images may be newsworthy, symbolic or graphic, but must always be thought-provoking and engender a greater awareness of how our actions affect the natural world.
Wildlife Photojournalist Award
This category seeks to develop the visual narrative through a series of 6 unique images that, together, tell a story without the need for words. All subject matter covered in other categories is eligible.
Each category winner shares part of a £30,000 prize fund, with £10,000 for the overall grand title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, £1000 for all category winners, and £1500 for winners of special award categories.