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BigPicture: Photography Competition

The California Academy of Sciences’ BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition invites high-caliber nature, wildlife and conservation images and is open to all photographers.

BigPicture Competition

The 2014 competition is now closed for submissions.

Stay tuned to hear more about the winning photographs! The awards ceremony will take place on July 31, 2014 at NightLife (21+ event).  Starting August 1, BigPicture takes center stage at the Academy in a new exhibit. View winning images from the inaugural international photo competition—celebrating the diversity of life and the wonders of the natural world through a photographic lens.



Categories of Entry

Categories of entry are determined by the following age divisions:

Adults (ages 18+)

Land Mammals: Wild animals photographed in their natural habitat anywhere in the world. Images may include land based mammals whether they spend the majority of their time in trees or on the land.

Birds: Wild birds photographed anywhere in the world, in flight or perched or displaying any other behavioral characteristics.

Insects, Reptiles, Marine Mammals, Fish and Amphibians: Wild animals, except land mammals, photographed in their natural habitat anywhere in the world. Images may include reptiles, marine mammals, insects, fish or amphibians.

Waterscapes, Landscapes and Plant Life: Captivating images of wild places with a unique perspective, from expansive landscape vistas of forests, deserts and mountains to the micro habitats 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.

Conservation Imagery: Images that tell a visual story about conservation issues of the natural world. Images should illustrate the impacts of humans on the environment and can be either positive or negative impact stories.

Youth (ages 12-17) Youth will simply enter up to 10 images (of any of the official subjects) into their age division.

Kids (ages 5-11) Kids will simply enter up to 10 images (of any of the official subjects) into their age division.


Over $20,000 In Cash & Prizes

There is an entry fee of $25 for up to 10 images. The competition includes three divisions of entry: adults, youth, and kids.

View the full prize details.


    1 Grand Prize Winner (Adult Division)

  • $5,000 Cash + $2,000 in Camera Gear

    5 First Place Category Winners (Adult Division)

  • $1000 Cash + $1000 in Camera Gear

  • 5 Runner Up Category Winners (Adult Division)

  • $500 in Camera Gear


    1 First Place Winner (Youth Division)

  • $450 in Camera Gear

  • 1 Runner Up Winner (Youth Division)

  • $400 in Camera Gear


    1 First Place Winner (Kids Division)

  • $450 in Camera Gear

  • 1 Runner Up Winner (Kids Division)

  • $400 in Camera Gear

    Honorable Mentions

  • A limited edition certificate of recognition from BigPicture presented by California Academy of Sciences

Learn more about the great cash prizes and photography gear by visting the official competition website. BigPictureCompetition.org




Jury Chair: Suzi Eszterhas

Jury Chair: Suzi Eszterhas

California-based wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas spends several months of the year shooting a wide variety of wildlife in the field. In recent years, she has specialized in documenting family life of endangered species and has become well known for her unprecedented work with newborn animals. Although Suzi works primarily in Africa, she has undertaken commissions and led instructional photography tours and workshops all over the world. Her photographs have been published in books, magazines and newspapers all over the world, including many feature stories and front covers.

Suzi is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, and has won awards in many competitions, including the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, National Wildlife Photo Contest, and Environmental Photographer of the Year Competition. Having recently become a Patron of the Sumatran Orangutan Society, Suzi also helps support the Cheetah Conservation Fund, International Rhino Foundation, Kibale Chimpanzee Project, Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary, Center for Animal Protection and Education, and other organizations.

Competition Judge: Daniel Beltrá

Competition Judge: Daniel Beltrá

Daniel brings the sensibility and craft of a news photographer to the fields of nature and the environment, making images that he hopes will spur greater respect and conservation of those subjects. He has documented several expeditions by Greenpeace to the Brazilian Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans, and the Patagonian Ice Fields, among many others.

In 2006, Daniel received awards from the World Press Photo (WPP) and China International Press Photo contests for his work on drought in the Amazon. In 2007, he won again in the WPP for photos of the Amazon. In 2008, Daniel was awarded the inaugural "Global Vision Award" from the Pictures of the Year International contest for work in the Ross Sea and the Amazon. He also won in the NPPA BOP contest and the LUCIE awards.

Daniel was awarded the Prince's Rainforest Project given via the Sony World Photography Awards in April 2009. The award, granted by Prince Charles, sent Daniel for three months to the Congo, Amazon and Indonesian rainforests to create photos for a book, website and traveling exhibition about the perilous fate that the world's rainforests face. Daniel is a fellow of the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers and in November 2009, was recognized by ABC News as its "Person of the Week" for his conservation photography. Daniel Beltrá is a Spanish photographer based in Seattle. His photos have won awards from World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, the Sony World Photography Awards, and the Lucie International Photo Awards.

Competition Judge: Clay Bolt

Competition Judge: Clay Bolt

Clay Bolt is a Natural History and Conservation Photographer specializing in macro and close-up photography of Southern Appalachian biodiversity, with an emphasis on invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians. His images and projects have been featured by organizations and publications such as National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, Scientific American, Outdoor Photographer, Audubon Magazine, BBC Wildlife and many others.

In 2009 Clay co-founded the international nature photography project "Meet Your Neighbours" (meetyourneighbours.net), which has grown to include dozens of photographers representing over 40 locations around the world. The mission at MYN is to reconnect people with the wildlife that lives within their own communities. In 2012, in partnership with The Highlands Biological Foundation, he co-founded Backyard Naturalists, whose mission is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world in children through science, art and technology.

Clay is passionate about spreading the message that a connection to nature begins at home and is always seeking out new ways to promote this concept through his photography, writing, presentations and community involvement. Please visit claybolt.com to learn more.

Competition Judge: Tui De Roy

Competition Judge: Tui De Roy

Tui De Roy A naturalist/writer, wildlife photographer and conservationist, Tui spent her childhood in the Galapagos, educated by the islands' nature and the scientists studying it. A founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, she is passionate about conservation, and the important role of photography.

Her work has appeared in major publications in more than 40 countries and she has produced fourteen large format wildlife books. Ranked amongst the world's top ten international wildlife photographers, Tui has repeatedly served on the finals judging panel for the UK's prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. She is fluent in four languages and is much sought after worldwide as a public speaker.

Tui's many awards and accolades include being a Honorary Warden for the Galapagos National Park and receiving the Charles Darwin Foundation Medal for important contributions to conservation. She is currently Patron of the New Zealand chapter for Friends of Galapagos.

Competition Judge: David Liittschwager

Competition Judge: David Liittschwager

David Liittschwager is a freelance photographer who grew up in Eugene, Oregon. Between 1983 and 1986, he worked as an assistant to Richard Avedon in New York City. After working in advertising, he turned his skills to portraiture with an emphasis on natural history subjects. Liittschwager is now a contributing photographer to National Geographic, Scientific American, Audubon and other magazines. A recent project, "One Cubic Foot," is being published as a large format book by the University of Chicago Press.

In 2008 Liittschwager collaborated with Alice Waters on the Edible Schoolyard book. In 2002 he produced Skulls and X-Ray Ichthyology: The Structure of Fishes for the California Academy of Sciences. Liittschwager's earlier books include Archipelago, Remains of a Rainbow, Witness and Here Today.

Competition Judge: Kathy Moran

Competition Judge: Kathy Moran

Kathy Moran is National Geographic magazine’s first senior editor for natural history projects. A 30-year veteran of the Society, Kathy has produced feature stories about terrestrial and underwater ecosystems since 1990, and she has edited more than 200 stories for the magazine. Her recent projects include Nick Nichols’ "Giant Sequoias" and Tim Laman’s "Birds of Paradise," both for the December 2012 issue. Kathy also managed the Africa Megatransect project, an award-winning National Geographic-Wildlife Conservation Society collaboration between photographer Nick Nichols and Society Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay. The resulting stories led to the creation of Gabon's national park system and protection of more than ten percent of that county’s land.

Moran has also edited several books for the Geographic, including Women Photographers at the National Geographic, The Africa Diaries–An Illustrated Life in the Bush, and Cat Shots. Kathy was named Picture Editor of the Year for her winning portfolio in the 2006 Pictures of the Year competition, and again in 2011 in the National Press Photographer’s Association’s Best of Photojournalism competition. She is a founding member of the International League of Conservation Photographers and serves on its Executive Committee.

Competition Judge: Klaus Nigge

Competition Judge: Klaus Nigge

Klaus Nigge is a wildlife photojournalist. After studying philosophy and art and earning a degree in biology, he worked as a biologist before he became a professional photographer in 1995. At present he works primarily for National Geographic and GEO.

In his photography he tells the stories of charismatic animal species (preferably big birds) that give a face to the threat of extinction or to their severely endangered habitats. In that pursuit he portrayed whooping cranes in the endless wetlands of Canada, European bisons in the last primeval forests of Europe, flamingos in the tropical coastlands of the Yucatan, and Saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan’s steppes, among others. Klaus calls himself a “slow” photographer, returning again and again to the same places and animals thus achieving an intimate relationship with his subjects. Although the threats to nature are omnipresent, he still passionately enjoys highlighting the pure beauty of wilderness with his camera.

He has published five books: including Kamchatka – eagles, bears, and volcanoes; Adlerleben – the American bald eagle; Return of the Emperor – European Bisons in the primeval forests of Poland; KranichEuropean Cranes, and Whooping Crane. Klaus is a committed member of the international wildlife photography community. As a former president of GDT (the association of German wildlife photographers) he founded the International Nature Photo Festival 20 years ago in his hometown Luenen, Germany, and still he very much enjoys lecturing at photo festivals all over the world. Klaus is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers ILCP.

Competition Judge: Thomas Peschak

Competition Judge: Thomas Peschak

Thomas P. Peschak is a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine. He leads a near continuous nomadic existence and spends 300 days per year in the field on assignments around the world. He was recently named as one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world. He trained as a marine biologist and retired from science to pursue a life dedicated to environmental photojournalism after realizing that he could have a bigger impact with his photographs than statistics.

Thomas began his career specializing in photographing Africa's marine and coastal biodiversity and produced three books on the subject: Currents of Contrast, Great White Shark and Wild Seas Secret Shores. He has since then significantly broadened his geographic scope and in 2009 his book Lost World on the marine environment of Aldabra was published. His latest book, Sharks and People, was released in 2013 and chronicles the relationship between people and sharks at more than two dozens locations around the world. Thomas is a multiple winner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards and in 2011 he received a World Press Photo Award for his work.

Competition Judge: Ian Shive

Competition Judge: Ian Shive

Ian Shive is an award-winning conservation photographer, author, educator, film producer and environmental advocate, recognized as the recipient of the Sierra Club's 2011 Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography. Ian regularly works as the lead assignment photographer for numerous environmental non-profit organizations and his work has been widely published in magazines, television shows, books and advertising campaigns. Often referred to as the leading chronicler of America's national parks today, Ian's book The National Parks: Our American Landscape has remained a best-selling photography book since 2009 and has helped shape diplomacy efforts around the world through his Wilderness Diplomacy initiative, currently underway in Afghanistan.

In addition to being an active photographer, Ian is also the founder and CEO of Tandem Stills + Motion, Inc. (tandemstock.com), one of the world's leading collections of licensable stock photographs and motion clips in the genres of environment, nature, travel, culture, adventure sports and healthy living lifestyles. When he is not running operations at Tandem or fulfilling an assignment, Ian shares his knowledge teaching Photojournalism and Advanced Photojournalism at the University of Southern California. He resides in Los Angeles.


The Competition

Enter your images into the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition by March 31 2014 for your chance to win a share of the $20,000 in cash and prizes. Your $25 entry fee permits you to enter up to 10 images into the competition. Presented by the California Academy of Sciences.



The Vision

To engage and inspire the global community to become stewards of the natural world through compelling conservation imagery.


BigPicture Overview

What on Earth have you photographed?

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.

Chaired by award-winning photographer and Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers Suzi Eszterhas, this competition welcomes professional-level, high-caliber nature, wildlife and conservation images and is open to all photographers who aim to capture the beauty and fragility of the natural world through an artistic lens. Enter your nature, wildlife and conservation images for a chance to win significant cash and camera prizes.


Defining Conservation Photography

It’s about making images with intention. After pressing the shutter, a conservation photographer takes the additional step of making sure that their images get in front of the people who can impact change for the benefit of the natural world. We can share our love of nature and photography through our own personal vision of what it means to be part of a global network of life.


Competition Period

The Big Picture Photography Natural World Competition begins at 12:00 am North American Eastern Standard Time (EST) on October 1, 2013 and closes at 11:59 pm North American Eastern Standard Time (EST) March 31, 2014. The Competition is presented by the California Academy of Sciences. To avoid uploading delays, DO NOT WAIT until the final days of the contest to enter. The large number of entrants trying to upload their photos just prior to deadline can overwhelm servers and prevent you from completing your entry or entering the competition by the deadline. We anticipate notifying winners by early May 2014.

Entry Criteria & Eligibility

Official Rules

Follow BigPicture


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