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Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Ten Breathtaking Images From the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest by Smithsonian Magazine

Snow Bison by Max Waugh
A bison runs amid the snow in Yellowstone National Park. Max Waugh / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest is an annual nature photography competition developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London. It is considered one of the most prestigious wildlife photography contests in the world.

Some key facts about the contest:

  • It started in 1965, making it one of the longest-running wildlife photography competitions1.

  • There are two categories - an Adult competition for photographers 18+ and a Young competition for photographers 17 and under.

  • In 2022, there were over 38,000 entries from photographers in 95 countries.

  • Images are judged anonymously by an international panel of industry experts on creativity, originality, and technical excellence.

  • The competition aims to celebrate exceptional nature photography and promote discovery and appreciation of the natural world.

  • The top prizes awarded are Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year47. Winners receive cash prizes and trophies.

  • Winning images are displayed in an exhibition that tours globally after opening in London.

Photographers are encouraged to capture surprising animal behaviors and spotlight conservation issues facing the natural world. Past winning images have shown rarely seen species, animal interactions, and effects of human activities.The competition provides a platform to spread awareness on important environmental topics through impactful nature photography. Entering worldwide photographers helps discover incredible wildlife moments from around the globe.


Urban Wildlife

  • This category highlights animals adapted to live in urban environments and human-dominated habitats.

  • It showcases wildlife that thrives in cities, towns, gardens, and parks around the world.

  • The category aims to showcase surprising urban animal behaviors and promote coexistence with wildlife.


  • This category covers images of mammals in their natural habitats from primates to marine mammals.

  • It includes portraits, behavior, interactions, mammal families, as well as conservation issues.

  • Past winners have shown rarely seen species, animal courtship, parenting, and hunting strategies.


  • Covers images of the huge diversity of invertebrates from insects to molluscs, worms, spiders etc.

  • Focuses on showcasing invertebrate behaviors, macro photography, and patterns/textures.

  • Can highlight pollinators, mimicry, camouflage, and other adaptations.


  • Documents issues facing the natural world and conservation stories.

  • Can cover habitat loss, pollution, climate change, illegal wildlife trade etc.

  • Provides a narrative and raises awareness on environmental threats.


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