A gaze of raccoons (six visible) perks up as a car peels by in Golden Gate Park. They are illuminated against a dark backdrop.

A gaze of raccoons perks up as a car peels by in Golden Gate Park. This image and five others were included in the photo story “Cities Gone Wild” by Corey Arnold, who won the 2023 BigPicture Grand Prize.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (December 4, 2023) — Submissions for the California Academy of Sciences’ 2024 BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition will be accepted through March 1, 2024. In its 11th year, the competition focuses a visual lens on the extraordinary wonders of the natural world and the importance of striving for a healthier planet.

Winners of this year’s BigPicture competition will receive a cash prize of up to $5,000 and have their photographs featured in an exhibit at the Academy’s iconic museum in Golden Gate Park. View winning images from BigPicture 2023 here and see them in person in the BigPicture exhibit, which closes on April 7, 2024.

Award-winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas will chair the competition’s panel of esteemed judges for the eleventh year, joined by editor Sophie Stafford (United Kingdom) and award-winning nature and conservation photographers and filmmakers Jahawi Bertolli (Kenya), Sandesh Kadur (India), Karen Kasmauski (U.S.), Jo-Anne McArthur (Canada), and Kiliii Yuyan (Duwamish Lands).

The competition seeks stunning 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. The competition’s Photo Story theme is “Unusual Perspectives,” which focuses on image collections that show how unique and unexpected perspectives—such as artful angles or bird’s eye views—can introduce new insights on our ever-changing planet. bioGraphic, the Academy’s independent online magazine about nature and regeneration, is the competition’s official media sponsor.

Since launching in 2014, BigPicture has established a strong reputation within the photography community, receiving one of just a handful of recommendations from “The Best Photography Contests and Prizes in 2022” by Format, a leading magazine for photographers and other creatives. The competition was also listed as a leading photography competition by Pixpa, an online portfolio service for photographers, and My Modern Met. To celebrate the competition’s 10th anniversary, BigPicture co-founder Rhonda Rubinstein, the Academy’s creative director, curated Seeing It All, a wildlife photography book featuring images from 11 visionary female photographers—all either BigPicture competition winners or jurors.

Last year’s BigPicture competition received over 7,300 submissions from photographers representing 58 countries. The Grand Prize image, titled “Backyard Friend (Cities Gone Wild)” by photographer and commercial fisherman Corey Arnold from Washington state, documents the ways that black bears are learning to not only survive but thrive alongside humans in the face of increasing urbanization. By carefully and creatively capturing coyotes, raccoons, and other animals’ forays into the urban world, Arnold shows the transformative power coexistence can have on wildlife behavior.

Awards include a total of $12,000 in cash prizes with winning images featured in a BigPicture photography exhibit at the Academy opening Fall 2024.

Paid image submissions will be accepted online from December 1, 2023 to March 1, 2024. Entry fees are $15 for the photo story category (6 to 8 images) and $25 for up to ten individual image submissions in any category. There is also an early bird discount of 20% off (no code needed) until January 15, 2024.


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.

Aquatic Life
Marine 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 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.

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

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.

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 impact stories.

New! 2024 Photo Story:
Unusual Perspectives A 6–8 image submission with captions. Artful angles, bird’s eye views, camera traps, remote locales, unique points-of-view: these are some of the approaches to creating a photo story for Unusual Perspectives. Aerial views of migration. Underwater changes in aquatic habitats. Macro moments of the tiniest lives. What does it look like to live traditionally in a remote region of the world—and in harmony with it? This year’s photo story shows how unusual perspectives help bring new insights into our lives on this ever-changing planet.

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

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