BigPIcture Natural World Photography Competition 2018

What on Earth have you photographed?

  • Deadline: 1 March 2018
  • Entry fee: $25 for up to 10 single image submissions in any category / $15 for 1 Photo Series submission (3-5 images)
  • Website:

BigPicture encourages photographers from around the world to contribute their work to this competition that will both celebrate and illustrate the rich diversity of life on Earth and inspire action to protect and conserve it through the power of imagery. Awards include $12,000 in cash prizes with winning images featured in a BigPicture photography exhibit at the Academy opening July 27, 2018.

Competition entries will be judged by an esteemed panel of world-renowned photographers and photo editors, including Jury Chair Suzi Eszterhas. This year, the competition is pleased to welcome former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to the judging panel. Kelly, the former commander of the International Space Station (ISS), holds the record for the single longest space mission by an American astronaut. During his 340 days in space, Kelly’s spectacular artistic photographs of planet Earth earned him a global following.

This year’s competition categories include:

Terrestrial Wildlife
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.       

Winged Life: Birds or flying insects photographed anywhere in the world—in flight, perched, or in action. This category also includes flightless birds such as penguins, nēnēs, and ostriches.   

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.

Aquatic Life: Animals including mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates that spend the majority of their time in water.

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.

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.

2018 Photo Series: Time Capsule: A 3-5 image submission with captions. With the world changing so rapidly, what natural moments would you put into your time capsule? This year’s photo series chronicles a moment in time, the passage of time, or growth and change in the natural world. Images may reveal the process of saving an endangered animal, the dramatic movements of ice, snow, and water, or new perspectives as the Earth revolves around the sun.


The Grand Prize winner will receive $5,000 for the best overall image in the 2018 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and be featured in the annual exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. The first place winners of the seven official categories will each receive $1,000 in cash and also have their winning images featured in the annual exhibit. Up to 6 additional finalists will be awarded a certificate of recognition for each category, with the exception of the Photo Series category. The Photo Series category will have one First Place awarded.


BigPicture is open to all photographers worldwide, except employees, volunteers and Board Members of the Academy (as well as their sponsors) and the immediate families and individuals living in the same household as such employees, volunteers and Board Members. Academy reserves the right to verify, in its sole judgment, entrant eligibility. Void where prohibited.

Copyrights & Usage Rights:

Entrants retain ownership and all other rights to submitted photographs subject
to the following: By entering BigPicture, each entrant grants to the Academy
a nonexclusive, irrevocable license to reproduce, publish and display submitted
images in all media throughout the world directly in relation to the Competition,
including but not limited to use in the context of the Academy website and social
media sites, the exhibition of winning images at the Academy, and promotional
and marketing materials regarding the Competition and Exhibition. Commercial
opportunities regarding an image will be negotiated separately.

By entering BigPicture, each entrant grants to the Academy a non-exclusive
irrevocable license to reproduce, publish and communicate to the public by any
means and exhibit their submitted image(s) and copies of their submitted image(s)
in all media throughout the world in relation to the BigPicture and the BigPicture exhibit including but not limited to all use in the context of:

1. Judging BigPicture
2. Display in an Awards Ceremony
3. Display in the Exhibit
4. Inclusion in a Portfolio Book or similar
5. Inclusion within the Academy Websites, including within interactive
elements associated with the BigPicture and/or Exhibition (now known or hereafter
created) available for viewing or download from the Academy Websites
6. Inclusion in promotional, press and marketing materials relating
to the BigPicture and/or the Exhibit
7. Inclusion in merchandising associated with the BigPicture and/or the Exhibit
In some of the circumstances above, commercial opportunities may exist for
awarded photographers to benefit from the use of their image: where a commercial
benefit is likely to arise, permission will be sought in advance and terms and
conditions will be agreed.

Submitted images may be used by the Academy for the purposes of BigPicture
and/or the Exhibit from the date of image submission until the end of the
Exhibition and thereafter the Academy may keep the awarded images within an archive (electronic or otherwise) provided that should the images be used
in connection with the BPPC and/or Exhibition after the period of five (5) years
following the notification of awarded images, permission will be sought from
the photographers.


Nature Environmental Landscape Documentary Seascapes Underwater Wildlife Abstract Aerial Other Photojournalism Travel