• The BigPicture exhibit opens on October 1
    Winning images from this year's BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition will go on display October 1st, 2022. (© Gayle Laird)
  • Bee Balling by Karine Aigner
    "Bee Balling" by photographer Karine Aigner, BigPicture 2022 Grand Prize winner
  • The exhibit will feature 49 winning and finalist images
    The exhibit will feature 49 winning and finalist images from the competition. (© Gayle Laird)
  • Sea lion fall by David Slater
    "Sea Lion Fall" by photographer David Slater, Aquatic Life category winner
  • The Hidden Beauty Beneath Our Feet by Tom St. George
    "The Hidden Beauty Beneath Our Feet" by photographer Tom St. George, Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora category winner

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (September 12, 2022) — On Saturday, October 1, 2022 the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco will open BigPicture, the museum’s ninth annual exhibition celebrating some of the world’s best wildlife and conservation photography. Featuring 49 top images from the 2022 BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition, the exhibit highlights Earth’s biodiversity, illustrates the many threats that our planet faces, and underscores the importance of protecting, conserving, and regenerating the natural world. Attendees of the Academy’s BigPicture NightLife event (21+) will get a sneak peek of the exhibit on Thursday, September 29 ahead of its public opening on Saturday, October 1. The exhibit will remain on view through April 23, 2023.

The 2022 Grand Prize image, photographer Karine Aigner’s “Bee Balling,” shows a frenetic cluster of male cactus bees grappling with each other in a mating ball. On a spring morning in southern Texas, Aigner positioned herself on the ground to capture the mating activity, giving a tiny and rarely seen phenomenon the visibility fitting for such a grand spectacle. Aigner hopes her photograph will shed light on the lesser-known cactus bee—which is often outcompeted by the European honey bee—and emphasize the crucial role they play as native plant pollinators.

Other winning images include: a sea lion fall in Monterey Bay by David Slater; a European beaver in Hungary’s Kiskunsag National Park by Bence Máté; a fruit bat gliding through a forest canopy in Badlapur, India by Sitaram Raul; an underwater cave in Mexico’s Riviera Maya by Tom St. George; a collage of dead winged insects in Ski, Norway by Pål Hermansen; spawning frogs hunted for consumption in Romania’s Carpathian region by Bence Máté; and the unique relationship between leopards and humans in Mumbai, India by Nayan Khanolkar.

In addition to the Grand Prize image, the above winning images were selected by a panel of leading photographers, photo editors, and conservationists in the following categories: Terrestrial Wildlife; Winged Life; Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora; Aquatic Life; Art of Nature; and Human/Nature. BigPicture’s 2022 Photo Story category, Taking Action, highlights the power of community participation as we adapt and strive towards a healthier planet. Awards include $12,000 in cash prizes and winning images featured in the BigPicture photography exhibit on the museum’s public floor.

Photographers representing 65 countries submitted over seven thousand photos for consideration in the competition this year. Renowned wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas chaired an esteemed panel of judges including international photo editor Sophie Stafford, and award-winning nature and conservation photographers Jaymi Heimbuch, Gab Mejia, Jamie Rojo, Camille Seaman, and Christian Ziegler.

A gallery of winning images was recently published by bioGraphic, the Academy’s independent online magazine about nature, conservation, and regeneration, and the official media sponsor for the BigPicture competition. Photos and captions from the bioGraphic gallery are available to any interested media outlets for syndication upon request.

Since launching in 2014, BigPicture has established a fast-growing reputation within the photography community, receiving one of just a handful of recommendations from “The 2020 Photographer’s Guide to Photo Contests” by PhotoShelter, one of the world’s top online photography resources. The competition was also named one of the “Top 15 Photography Contests & Prizes in 2021” by Pixpa, a leading online portfolio service for photographers, and was included in My Modern Met’s 2019 list of “30+ Best Photography Competitions to Elevate Your Craft.

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 scientific research and environmental education—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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