A global search for the most inspirational and provocative nature photography has begun. Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year is calling on photographers of all ages to enter images that reveal the natural world as it has never been seen before.
Jean Dominique-Mallet, Chief Executive Office at Veolia Environmental Services said: “This is the third year that Veolia Environnement has sponsored this prestigious competition as we believe it embodies our own values together with our on-going commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainable development. The competition also highlights the importance of protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and the very real need to educate and inspire people of all ages.”
Now in its 47th year, the competition is an international leader in the visual representation of the natural world, stimulating engagement with its diversity and beauty while engendering a sense of awe, wonderment and respect.
This spring, a select team of industry-renowned judges will spend weeks in a darkened room, carefully scrutinising tens of thousands of entries. Their challenge: to whittle down to the very best of the best.
For the seventh year running, Mark Carwardine will chair the judging panel to ensure consistency, quality and excellence is maintained. Mark said, ‘This is the most prestigious competition of its kind. A beautiful and technically strong image is not enough: the key to winning and standing out from the crowd is originality and creativity. Last year’s competition received more than 31,000 entries, but only 118 of the strongest images made the grade. The judges will be looking for something they haven’t seen before, a fresh and exciting way of portraying life on Earth.’
The competition offers photographers a chance to win a share of the £24,500 prize fund. As well as the much-coveted title of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the adult winner is awarded £10,000, while special award winners receive £1,000 and category winners £500 each. The overall winner of the Veolia Environnement Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year title receives £500 and a day’s masterclass with a leading light from the photographic world, while category winners receive £250. Winning images are featured in a hardback commemorative portfolio book, which is translated into key languages including Finnish and German, as well as a special supplement to the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.
All commended and winning images are then showcased in an international exhibition that debuts at London’s Natural History Museum in October, before touring venues around the world. By the time that the exhibition has completed its annual tour, more then two-and-a-half million people will have been inspired by this unique body of work, ensuring contributing photographers become internationally recognised and household names.
Whether you are a professional or an amateur photographer, the key to competing successfully in this prestigious photographic event is to represent the natural world in increasingly imaginative and compelling ways. Here are some top tips for each of the competition’s categories and awards:
Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year
- Animals in Their Environment: Pictures need to conjure up a sense of place, whether magical or memorable. The animal is a part of it, but not necessarily the largest component.
- Behaviour: Birds, Behaviour: Mammals, Behaviour: All Other Animals: Just looking or sitting isn’t enough. Behaviour must be fascinating or unexpected.
- Underwater World: Seventy per cent of the planet is under water so the scope here is huge and includes life in freshwater as well as at sea.
- Animal Portraits: This is the competition’s most popular category so it’s essential to be original. Last year’s winning portrait of a polar bear had no face…
- In Praise of Plants and Fungi: There is plenty of potential for range and creativity in this category. The challenge is to create a picture that will make the viewer marvel.
- Urban Wildlife: Remember the potential for a winning shot in this category is all around you. The key is to recognise the extraordinary in the ordinary.
- Nature in Black and White: Let the light and shade, texture and tone do the work, whether using conventional or digital dark-room techniques. Composition is absolutely all important.
- Creative Visions of Nature: This category releases you from any need to be figurative, so keep your creative senses alert and look for new ways of seeing. A picture should reveal more to the viewer the longer they look at it.
- Wild Places: Images must inspire a sense of wonder. They should make the viewer want to be there.
- Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year Award: A good story can be topical, hard-hitting or evocative. You just have to look at the last year’s winners to see how diverse and memorable a winning picture story can be.
- One Earth Award: Most images entered rely on the shock factor, but what about man’s positive efforts to restore the planet? Keep in mind that pictures must carry a message.
- Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife: Photographers must be of a species from the 2010 IUCN list, which includes 18,351 threatened species. Judges would like to see more than just the obvious contenders featured and helped through photographic excellence.
- Eric Hosking Award: If you are 27 or under, this is your chance to show off your very best work. Last year an image from this portfolio won the photographer the overall title of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the grand prize in the competition.
Twenty-five year old Hungarian photographer Bence Máté, overall winner of the 2010 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year, said: ‘Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year is a competition that photographers worldwide aspire to win. It provides a fantastic platform for up-and-coming photographers to showcase their work. Being presented with this prestigious award in the iconic surroundings of the Natural History Museum and in front of photographers whose work I’ve always admired was one of the proudest moments of my career.’
Máté also achieved acclaim as the winner of the Veolia Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2002. Open to young photographers, this competition seeks to encourage, identify and nurture breaking talent in three separate categories: 10 Years and Under, 11–14 Years and 15–17 Years.
Mark Carwardine said, ‘In recent years, young photographers have given adults a run for their money – so much so that it’s often impossible to look at a winning image and guess the age of the person who took it’.
Fergus Gill, winner of Veolia Environnement Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009 and 2010, said: ‘Ever since I started taking photographs I’ve dreamt of winning the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. I first entered the competition when I was nine years old with some photographs of birds taken in my back garden. Getting recognition for my photography when I won the 11–14 Years category in 2004 was huge for me, and was one of the things that made me really decide to pursue nature photography. Having followed the competition from a young age, I eagerly anticipate October every year, excited to see the results. Seeing such great photographs inspired me to try and improve my own photography in the hope that one day I’d see my work showcased alongside them. Winning the young competition two years in a row was both completely unexpected and a phenomenal feeling. It’s an honour to have my photographs displayed alongside those of many of the world’s best photographers who have inspired me through their work.’
The 2011 competition opens on 12 January and closes on 18 March 2011, and images can be entered online via the Natural History Museum