2024 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition Opens

2024 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition Opens

A gaze of raccoons perk up as a car peels by in Golden Gate Park. This is one of six images included in the photo story: Cities Gone Wild” by 2023 grand prize-winner Corey Arnold

San Francisco, CA—Submissions for the California Academy of Sciences’ 2024 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition are being 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. Moreover, the academy will feature their photographs in an exhibit at its iconic museum in Golden Gate Park.

Furthermore, award-winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas will chair the competition’s panel of judges. She is 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) as well as Kiliii Yuyan (Duwamish Lands).

Last year’s BigPicture competition received more than 7,300 submissions from photographers representing 58 countries. The grand prize image was titled Backyard Friend (Cities Gone Wild) by photographer and commercial fisherman Corey Arnold from Washington State. It 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 as well as other animals’ forays into the urban world, Arnold shows the transformative power coexistence can have on wildlife behavior.

2023 BigPicture grand prize winner: Backyard Friend (Cities Gone Wild), Corey Arnold, Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.
2024 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition

The competition seeks stunning nature, wildlife and conservation images. What’s more, it 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. The focus is on image collections that show how unique, unexpected perspectives—such as bird’s eye views—can introduce new insights on our planet.

Furthermore, this year, awards include a total of $12,000 in cash prizes with winning images featured in a BigPicture photography exhibit at the academy opening in fall 2024.

Paid image submissions are accepted online from December 1, 2023 to March 1, 2024. Entry fees are $15 for the photo story category (6–8 images) and $25 for up to 10 individual image submissions in any category. There is also an early bird discount of 20% off (no code needed) until January 15, 2024.

2024 Contest Categories

The 2024 competition features the following submission categories.

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 as well as black-and-white photography. In addition, it includes images created using scientific imaging tools. Artistic effects should not be the result of digital manipulations.

2023 BigPicture winner: For Survival, Donglin Zhou, Shiqu, Sichuan Province, China
Aquatic Life

Marine animals, including mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates (like corals and jellyfish) that spend most of their time in water. This category also includes polar bears.

Landscapes, Waterscapes, & Flora

Captivating images of wild places with a unique perspective. It spans 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. For example, it can encompass 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.

2023 BigPicture winner: Pass By, Lin Xiaoping, Xiamen, China
Terrestrial Wildlife

Animals photographed anywhere in the world. Images may include land-based mammals, reptiles, amphibians as well as non-flying insects whether they live in trees or on land.


Images can depict the efforts of scientists, conservationists and others working to sustain life on our planet or the complex relationship between humans and nature. Further, images should illustrate the impacts of humans on the environment, either positively or negatively.

New! 2024 Photo Story: Unusual PerspectivesBigPicture-Natural-World-Photography-Competition

This category comprises 6–8 image submissions with captions. It should feature, for instance, bird’s eye views, camera traps, remote locales, unique points-of-view. Here 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.

To view winning images from the 2023 BigPicture contest, click here. Moreover, to see them in person, visit the BigPicture  exhibit, which closes April 7, 2024.