The best wildlife photography competitions to enter in 2022
A guide to the top international and UK wildlife photography competitions, how and when to submit your images, and a peek at previous winners.
Pursue your wildlife photography dreams and enter one of the many fantastic competitions out there. It’s a great way to get your work recognised and raise your profile, and can even be the start of a new career.
You may well have heard of the prestigious Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year, but there are so many other contests in the UK and beyond that you would be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused.
That’s why we have created this easy and quick guide to the very best wildlife photography competitions to enter.
Read on to find out about submission deadlines, entry requirements, previous winners, what the judges are looking for and how to make your entry stand out from the crowd.
Could 2022 be the year you take your photography to the next level?
BBC Wildlife's Photo Club
What better way to kick off this article than with our very own photography competition? It's free to enter and is open to photographers all around the world, aged 18 or over.
The photographer with the winning image in each issue which will be awarded a prize, provided by the prize provider for the issue that the image is published in. Previous prizes have included backpacks, hiking boots and jackets.
Learn more about submitting photos to the competition, plus how to submit images to our Photo of the Day,
Submission deadline: N/A.
British Wildlife Photography Awards
Open for entries now! A celebration of the best of British wildlife, this competition is open to any images of nature taken in the UK. Amateurs and professionals of any nationality are welcome to take part.
It is divided into an adult competition and a youth competition – the RSPB Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year, for those aged 17 years or below.
The overall adult winner will be chosen from the winners of 12 categories, including Animal Behaviour, Botanical Britain, Coast and Marine and Wild Wood, plus there is a Documentary Series category (a sequence of up to six images of any British wildlife, habitat or landscape conservation issue) and one for Wildlife in HD Video (short films of up to 3 minutes in length).
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There’s £5,000 to be won for the overall prize and £750 for each category. Young entrants can bag a £750 voucher for the overall prize and a £250 voucher for each of the three age categories.
Entry to the adult competition starts at £10 for entry and goes up to £40 for 40 entries.
Submission deadline: 19th June 2022.
Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
Open for entries now! The gloriously silly competition that awards prizes for images with a sense of humour was born in 2015 and has since become globally renowned. From a farting emperor penguin to a turtle flipping the bird, the winners can’t help but make you smile and often receive good media coverage.
It is free to enter and open to amateurs and professionals alike. There are six categories in total: Alex Walker’s Serian Creatures of the Land (any animal that lives on the land –even if it looks like it is flying!), Spectrum Creatures in the Air (any bird, bat or other flying creature), ThinkTank Photo Junior (any funny wildlife picture from those aged under 18), Amazing Internet Portfolio (four, ideally connected, images which make a collection), Underwater (any animal that lives in water) and the Video Clip (up to two video clips, each no more than 60 seconds long).
The top prize for the overall winner – the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photographer of the Year – is a trophy, two ThinkTank photography bags and a one-week safari in Kenya for two people with Alex Walker’s Serian, plus there are smaller prizes for the category winners. But the real prizes are the recognition and having your image/s seen by people all around the world.
2021’s Comedy Wildlife Photographer of the Year was Ken Jensen, who won the coveted prize for his golden silk monkey in Yunnan, China. Entitled ‘Ouch!’, the poor male looks as if it is receiving a wedgy, with a rather pained expression…!
Submission deadline: 1st September 2022.
View the images from previous years:
International Nature Photographer of the Year
Now in its seventh year, this competition is open to all professional and amateur photographers from 10 years old upwards. In 2021, people from 97 countries entered and 22,000 images were judged. Images can be of wild subjects from anywhere in the world and taken at any time.
As well as the prestigious overall title of Nature Photographer of the Year 2022 with a €3,000 prize, there are 11 different categories to enter with a prize of €500 each, plus a portfolio award with a €1,000 prize, and a young NPOTY award for those aged 10 to 17 years old. Categories include Birds, Plants and Fungi, Underwater and Animal Portraits.
It costs €29 to enter a standard category and €17 for the portfolio award.
If you register before 7th May 2022, then you will be able to join a free live masterclass from award-winning photographer and jury member Tin Man Lee on Zoom where you can glean some top tips on how to win.
The winners will be announced during the annual Nature Talks Photo Festival on 12th and 13th November 2022 in the Netherlands, and will also feature in an exhibition at the festival.
The overall winner from 2021 was Terje Kolaas from Norway, with his mind-blowing drone shot of thousands of pink-footed geese taking flight above the pure, snowy landscape of the Trondheim fjord wetland system.
Submission deadline: 12th June 2022.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Did you know that this world-renowned photography competition began its life in Animals magazine back in 1965, which later became today’s BBC Wildlife magazine? The publication hoped to showcase and encourage wildlife photography, which was a new field at that point.
Nowadays the competition is organised by the Natural History Museum and the annual exhibition of winners’ images is hugely popular among the public, photographers and wildlife enthusiasts.
The adult competition is open to anyone in the world over the age of 17 and all category winners will be considered for the grand title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. There are plenty of categories to choose from. The 13 single-image categories include Animals in their Environment, Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles, Plants and Fungi and Photojournalism. Multiple-image categories, in which you can submit 6-10 images, include Photojournalist Story Award, Rising Star Award (aged 18 to 26) and Portfolio Award (aged 27 and over).
There is also a Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year with three age group categories: 10 years and under, 11-14 years and 15-17 years. Images can cover any aspect of wildlife and the natural world, and the winner of each age category will be considered for the overall prize.
The entry fee for the adult competition is £30, though this is waived for residents of some countries to encourage diversity. There is no fee for the youth competition
Laurent Ballesta was winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2021. The French underwater photographer’s moody and atmospheric image features camouflage groupers spawning in the dark ocean of Fakarava in French Polynesia.
If your interest is piqued, we have a fantastic, information-packed article on how to win Wildlife Photographer of the Year, in which chair of the jury and former BBC Wildlife editor Roz Kidman Cox reveals what makes an entry stand out.
Submission deadline: usually in December each year.
View the images from previous years:
Bird Photographer of the Year
A competition celebrating all things avian, and open to anyone.
There are eight categories including Best Portrait, Birds in the Environment, Bird Behaviour and Urban Birds. Plus, there are three special awards: Portfolio Award (up to 6 images as a collection), Video Award (a two- to five-minute video of a bird/s) and Conservation (up to 6 images as a collection that tell a conservation story).
There is a fee for entries – £6 for 1 entry, £15 for 5 entries, £25 for 10 entries, £40 for 20 entries, £50 for 30 entries, or £60 for 50 entries.
Those under 18 can take part in the Young Bird Photographer of the Year contest, which is split into three age groups and is free to enter.
In terms of prizes, the grand winner will win £5,000, and there are smaller prizes for the category winners (gold, silver and bronze) and special awards, including Swarovski binoculars, an Olympus camera and £500 cash.
Submission deadline: 20th December 2021.
And a few more wildlife photography competition to consider in 2023…
Underwater Photographer of the Year
Submission deadline: usually early January.
Sony World Photography Awards – Natural World and Wildlife category
Submission deadline: usually early January.
European Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Submission deadline: usually early March.
Main image: 'Chest Bump' was highly commended in the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2019 @ Thomas Mangelsen
Jackson/Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2019
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