Wildlife Photographer of the Year's reputation is reinforced by the expertise of our jury and the vigour of our judging process. Meet this year's international panel.
What follows is a little encouragement and a few tips from the judging room that even competition aficionados would be wise to read.
First, even if you believe you have only one or two visually outstanding images or just one unforgettable story that you feel the world should see, you should enter. They could well be the gems that the judges will be looking for.
Second, Wildlife Photographer of the Year carries the greatest prestige and gives the greatest coverage internationally. But it goes further than just showcasing the best. It highlights the stories behind those images – almost always important ones that need exposure, illustrating our conflicted relationship with the natural environment.
Being the premier competition for nature and the environment does, of course, mean that many of the world’s leading photographers will be entering. But if you are not a professional, don’t let that discourage you. Imagination and skill are not limited by profession or age. The most creative visual artists can be among the youngest. Indeed, many of today’s big names made their first major appearance on the world stage in this competition. All images are also judged without the creators’ identities being known, so everyone is judged on the same level.
So what will the judges be looking for? There is no formula – in fact, just the reverse. Lookalike images of what have gone before will not make it through to the finals. What will excite the judges are fresh images, whether revelatory, thought-provoking or simply exceptionally beautiful and, for photojournalism stories, those that work purely visually as story‑telling sequences and stimulate conversation.
The judges will also be looking for pictures that are authentic and true to nature. That requires a process of ethical checks, which for finalists – as stated in the rules – includes checking RAW/original files. So locate those original files and make sure you do have them ready to upload if and when they are requested. Speaking of rules, make sure you set aside time to read them, thoroughly, before entering. It is distressing for everyone if a special picture in the finals has to be removed because someone hasn’t followed the rules properly.
A final rule is one you set for yourself: do not to leave the process of entering until close to the deadline – Thursday 12 December at 11.30am GMT. Technical glitches always present themselves at the last minute, and entries can’t be accepted after the strict deadline. So give yourself the best chance to be in the top one hundred.
Rosamund 'Roz' Kidman Cox OBE, Chair of the jury, writer and editor
Roz is an editor and writer specialising in wildlife and environmental issues, with a particular interest in photography. Previously editor of BBC Wildlife magazine for more than 20 years, she now project manages, edits and writes photography‑led books. Roz is author of 50 Years of Wildlife Photographer of the Year and The Masters of Nature Photography - both for the Natural History Museum - as well as the Unforgettable photography titles.
Roz has judged the competition over nearly four decades and edits the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio books. Other titles she has project managed include Our Planet, and BBC Books include Light on the Earth, Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, Life, The Hunt and Planet Earth II. She is an affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers and was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year's Honours for her services to conservation.
Michael AW is a wildlife photographer, explorer and ocean advocate who has authored 37 books about the ocean. He is a three-time finalist in Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and in 2015 he was the winner for the Under Water category. He has won over than 67 international photographic awards and was named one of the world's most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photography. His essays and pictures have been published in magazines including BBC Wildlife, GEO, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Asian Geographic, Nature Focus, Times and Discovery.
From 2010 to 2018, Michael was the project director for Elysium Epic's Arctic and Antarctic expeditions documenting flora and fauna. In 2018 he joined an expedition across the heart of the Coral Triangle for a first-ever baseline survey of the biomass of the region's corals and fishes. Michael is also the founder of OceanNEnvironment, a charity registered with Environment Australia, Asian Geographic and Ocean Geographic.
Shekar Dattatri is a pioneer of wildlife filmmaking in India and has worked as a freelance cameraman and producer for some of the world's leading natural history broadcasters. He has been fascinated with the natural world from the age of 10, and over a career spanning 35 years, he has received national and international awards for his work as a filmmaker and conservationist.
In 1998, Shekar was named one of the world's top 10 rising stars of wildlife filmmaking by Television Business International, then in 2000 he shifted his focus to conservation and advocacy filmmaking. He has since produced several films on conservation issues in India, some of which have led to tangible change. He co-founded India's premier conservation portal (ConservationIndia.org), writes for leading newspapers and magazines on conservation, and has served on some of the highest conservation advisory bodies to the Indian government.
Shekar has also served on the final juries of wildlife film festivals such as Wildscreen in the UK and the Japan Wildlife Film Festival, as well as some of India's largest wildlife photography competitions.
Tim Littlewood is the Director of Science at the Natural History Museum, London.
He is responsible for botanical, entomological and zoological collections and scientific research. Tim's peronal research has focussed on molecular tools to understand species diversity and diversification, particularly on helminth parasites that infect vertebrates. He once considered becoming a photojournalist, but a scholarship to Jamaica began a career in research instead.
Tim says that for him, 'photography provides unique opportunities to reveal, document and inspire, but great photography goes further - to challenge the senses and emotions, inspire and call to action through long lasting impressions you are compelled to return to.'
Susan McElhinney started editing while shooting children's books for National Geographic. She has been the Photography Director for Children's Publications at the National Wildlife Federation for the last 14 years. Prior to this, she was a photo editor with National Geographic World (now Kids). Susan is also a photo editor for Ranger Rick magazine, has photographed national and international events for Newsweek for the last seven years and has worked as a freelance editorial photographer for the last 24 years for a wide range of magazines including Discover, Women's World, Parenting and the IBM Annual Report.
Jaime Rojo his passion for wildlife and conservation with his storytelling skills and training in environmental sciences to create visual communication campaigns that engage the broader public. A strong advocate of wilderness conservation and large-landscape connectivity, he hopes his images can become a tool in the creation of new protected areas. He frequently acts as a photographer, filmmaker and communications advisor with environmental organisations, corporate clients, educational institutions and government agencies all over the world.
Rojo is an International League of Conservation Photographers Senior Fellow, a trustee of the WILD Foundation and the recipient of honours in competitions such as the World Press Photo Contest and Wildlife Photographer of the Year.