BigPicture 2019 Grand Prize winner

"Black Grouse Showing Off" by photographer Audun Rikardsen (2019 BigPicture Grand Prize winner)


San Francisco (December 3, 2019)—Submissions for the California Academy of Sciences’ 2020 BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition will be open from December 1, 2019 – March 1, 2020. Featuring the work of the world’s best nature and conservation photographers, the competition focuses a visual lens on the awe-inspiring wonders of the natural world and the increasingly important sustainability issues facing our planet. Winners of this year’s BigPicture competition will receive a cash prize and have their photographs featured in a museum exhibit on the Academy’s public floor, which welcomes over one million visitors each year. View winning images from BigPicture 2019 here.

Award-winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas will chair the competition’s panel of esteemed judges for a seventh year, joined by international photo editor Sophie Stafford, and award-winning nature and conservation photographers Sirachai Arunrugstichai, Roie Galitz, Daisy Gilardini, Margot Raggett, and Tony Wu.

Attracting submissions from world-class photographers from around the world, the competition again seeks professional-level nature, wildlife, and conservation images and is open to all photographers with the ability to tell evocative, captivating stories from the natural world through the photographic medium. This year, the competition includes a new “coexistence” photo story category focusing on photos that capture the unique ways that animals and humans are adapting to the environments we cohabit. bioGraphic, the Academy’s online magazine about science and sustainability, is the competition’s official media sponsor.

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 Photo Shelter, one of the world’s top online photography resources. The competition was also named one of the “Top 15 Photography Contests & Prizes in 2019” by Pixpa, a leading online portfolio service for photographers and creators. BigPicture was also included in My Modern Met’s list of “30+ Best Photography Competitions to Elevate Your Craft.”

Last year’s BigPicture competition received over 6,500 submissions from photographers representing 67 countries. The Grand Prize-winning image, by wildlife photographer Audun Rikardsen of Tromsø, Norway, gives a glimpse of the flashy mating display of a black grouse perched above a stretch of Scandinavian coast. Rikardsen spent years preparing for the shot, allowing the grouse to grow comfortable in front of the camera.


The Grand Prize and First Place Category winners and their work will be honored at an awards ceremony during an Academy NightLife event (21+) on July 30, 2020. Awards include a total of $12,000 in cash prizes with winning images featured in a BigPicture photography exhibit at the Academy opening July 31, 2020.


Paid image submissions will be accepted online from December 1, 2019 – March 1, 2020. Entry fees are $15 for the photo story category (4 – 6 images) and $25 for up to ten individual image submissions. This year’s competition categories include:

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
Animals including mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates—like corals and jellyfish—that spend the majority of their time in water.

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.

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 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 stories.

New! 2020 Photo Story: Coexistence
A 4 – 6 image submission with captions. Animals and humans are adapting to the many shared environments where they coexist. What stories have you encountered—and captured—that show this new reality? This year’s photo story documents the remarkable ways in which we cohabit the planet with other species—and how our future together might look. Submitted photo stories must not violate any laws, regulations, or BigPicture rules.

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