Winning the Veolia Wildlife Photography of the Year Competition: The Judge’s Top Tips

A close up of a lioness

At the recent Wild Photos conference (London) we had the opportunity for an impromptu Q&A with Mark Carwardine, Chairman of the judges for the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the year competition. This provided a great opportunity for us to find out more about the judging process and receive some tips on submitting potentially winning photos.

Here’s the top tips and best bits:

  • Use a picture that tells a story – the adage that a picture tells a thousand words is very true for this competition.
  • Don’t overlook common subjects – the judges are often bombarded with pictures of African wildlife and Japanese Macaques.
  • Look for new and unusual ways of portraying wildlife, for example unusual behaviour, alternative poses, new angles
  • Don’t copy winning styles from previous years – judges see this time after time and disregard ‘copied’ photos
  • It is permitted to resubmit photos year after year. In fact, some shots have been resubmitted three times and only won on their third submission. If you believe you have a truly winning shot it is worth repeat submissions.
  • The most popular categories are animal portraits and animals in their environment. Less popular – but becoming increasingly more so – is nature in black and white, urban wildlife and in praise of plants. Submitting into the less popular categories might increase your chances, but only because there is less competition.
  • Judges love spume 🙂
Other observations we have made both from the conference and the exhibition itself are:
  • Birds are very popular and are a trending submission, especially blurred and mass / flock shots
  • Shots that show wildlife half under the water / half out of the water (split level views) have been popular winning shots this year
  • The same photographer can submit similar shots of the same theme and subject and win year after year.
To see a selection of winning photos from the 2011 Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition visit the NHM website, or if you’re in London, make a visit to see the exhibition, it’s well worth a trip and is very inspirational!

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