Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009

Welcome to Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009. I’m delighted you are considering taking part this year and hope you do.

For Mark Carwardine’s complete introduction to the competition and suggestions and insider tips to help you to win, see the February issue of BBC Wildlife (on sale 22 January – 19 February).

Here’s some useful information on how to enter and what you could win.

This year, we are proud to welcome Veolia Environnement as the competition’s title sponsor. Veolia is a world leader in environmental services.

How to choose your images
One of the biggest challenges is choosing what images to enter and the right approach is crucial. Be honest with yourself and edit ruthlessly. It’s all too easy to become emotionally attached to certain images and this is when people tend to enter ‘almost’ shots. Resist the temptation: mediocre shots won’t win. Be critical of your work and only enter your very best. Make an initial selection – ideally two or three times as many as you are allowed to enter – and then get other people to comment and even make the final selection for you. They will find it easier to identify the really good ones.

How to process your images
When you have made your final selection, the images need to be processed ready to enter the competition. For many newcomers to digital photography this can be a bit of a stumbling block. A surprising number of imaginative and well-composed images do not make it into the finals simply because they have been badly processed. For some top tips visit

You stand a better chance of winning in some categories than others. There are a phenomenal number of entries in categories such as Behaviour: Birds, Animals in their Environment and Animal Portraits, so the competition in these is intense. There are more opportunities to excel in categories with fewer entries (below) – all you need is some imagination.

» Behaviour: All Other Animals. This category has huge scope, but you must show genuinely interesting behaviour.
» Urban and Garden Wildlife: This is a surprisingly weak category with relatively few entries. Don’t forget that it has to be an obviously urban or suburban setting.
» Nature in Black and White: Introduced in 2005, this category has huge potential. Enter any wild landscape, animal or plant and try turning some of your colour pictures into black and white.
» One Earth Award: Don’t rely on shock value, but strive for genuine photographic merit. Winners explore our relationship with the natural world or our damaging influence symbolically or graphically.
» In Praise of Plants: Plants are everywhere but this is often a weak category because there’s a tendency to take simple, unimaginative shots of them rather than truly creative works of art.
» Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife: Images of well-known endangered species have to be truly exceptional to stand out. Check out the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and try to photograph some of the more unusual subjects.
» If you’re aged 18–26 and considering entering the Eric Hosking Award, there is one golden rule: critical editing. Make sure that all the pictures you enter are strong.

Mark Carwardine (Chair) Zoologist,
writer and photographer
Laurent Geslin
Chris Gomersall
Wildlife photographer
Orsolya Haarberg
Nature photographer
Josef (Sepp) Hackhofer
Nature photographer
Tim Harris
Manager: Nature and Garden Collections, Photoshot.
Tony Heald
Wildlife photographer
Rosamund Kidman Cox
Editor and writer
Jan-Peter Lahall
Tor McIntosh
Picture editor
Vincent Munier
Nature photographer
Erik Sampers
Photo Director, Terre Sauvage
Brian Skerry
Marine photo journalist
Sophie Stafford Editor, BBC Wildlife

» The title Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year will be given to the single image judged to be the most striking and memorable of all the category winners.
» The winning photographer will be presented with £10,000 at an awards ceremony at the Natural History Museum, London, in October. Each category winner receives £500 and every runner-up £250. Special Award winners receive £1,000.
» All winning images are displayed in an exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, and then toured around the UK and many countries overseas.
» The pictures will also be published in a free supplement with the November issue of BBC Wildlife and in a hardback book.
» Many of the rules and category definitions have been carefully revised to make them clearer, so even if you’ve been entering the competition for years and think you know what we’re looking for, visit to check.
» Translations of the rules will be available online in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
» New for 2009. The competition now accepts scans of transparencies (all formats) and digital images. Up to three pictures may be entered in each category. The original transparencies or original digital capture as it was recorded by the camera will be requested and must be supplied if an image reaches the final stage of judging.
» Enter online at Closing date for online entries: Friday 27 March 2009.
» Closing date for postal entries (CDs only): Friday 20 March 2009.
» Fees: £25 for online entry (£20 if entered by 28 February) or £27 for postal entries (CDs only, please).
» The Young Photographer competition is free to enter for photographers aged 17 and under. Read the full rules online.

For more information
Tel: 0207 942 5015

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