Rules and Guidelines

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CIWEM’s Environmental Photographer of the Year aims to promote and reward excellence in international environmental photography, and to enhance the understanding of the causes, consequences and solutions to climate change and social inequality. Before entering, please read the Rules and Guidelines and Digital Specifications & Adjustment Guidelines carefully as all entrants have to acknowledge acceptance of them during the online registration process.


  • Each entrant may enter up to 10 still photographs.
  • All photographs entered must have been completed since 1 January 2016.
  • Entries must be submitted as digital files only. For initial entry, all still photography images must be submitted as JPEGs, saved at a high quality level, with a maximum file size of 0.5MB. SEE DIGITAL SPECIFICATIONS SECTION BELOW FOR FURTHER DETAILS.
  • If shortlisted, entrants must be able to supply images as RAW files or original JPEGs. SEE DIGITAL SPECIFICATIONS BELOW FOR FURTHER DETAILS.
  • Entrants must be the sole author and owner of the copyright for all the entries they submit, or they must have obtained permission from the copyright holder to submit the entries on their behalf. The photographer retains the copyright to all their entries into the Environmental Photographer of the Year.
  • Do not add a signature to any entry as judging is done anonymously and entries with overlay signatures will not be accepted.
  • It is the entrant’s responsibility to ensure that all the necessary permissions are obtained from people featured in the entry.
  • All entries, should be a faithful representation of the original scene and localised adjustments should be used appropriately. Some digital adjustment or editing is allowed, but entrants should understand that the objective is to remain faithful to the original experience, and to never deceive the viewer or misrepresent reality. SEE DIGITAL ADJUSTMENT GUIDELINES SECTION BELOW FOR FURTHER DETAILS.
  • Each entrant agrees to participate in related publicity and to the use of their name and entry for the purposes of advertising, promotion and publicity of the competition and exhibition without additional compensation.
  • By entering the Competition, you grant CIWEM a non-exclusive licence to reproduce, publish and communicate your entry to the public by exhibiting your entry through all media throughout the world in relation to the Environmental Photographer of the Year. This includes, but is not limited to: the judging process; an exhibition and tour; inclusion in an Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition catalogue or book; online galleries; promotional, press and marketing materials associated with the Environmental Photographer of the Year; and associated merchandising. CIWEM is allowed to pass on any entry to online and print publications to be used either for editorial or image based promotion only in relation to the Environmental Photographer of the Year, with full credit given to the photographer. CIWEM’s use of the photographs may include third party licensing to generate revenue which will be used for the promotion of EPOTY and other charitable activities undertaken by CIWEM. Commercial opportunities, such as third-party licensing, may exist for photographers to benefit from the use of any selected entry. Where such a commercial benefit is likely to arise, permission will be sought by CIWEM in advance.
  • By entering the competition you accept that your entry may be exhibited by CIWEM or other exhibitions organised or attended by CIWEM as part of the Environmental Photographer of the Year. CIWEM reserves the right to reproduce any entry for exhibition purposes.
  • CIWEM cannot accept liability for the misuse of entries and or failure of any third party to comply with the Environmental Photographer of the Year’s credit guidelines.
  • The sponsors of the Environmental Photographer of the Year (detailed on this website) reserve the right to reproduce any entry from the exhibition in their own marketing and publications, in relation to the competition and exhibition only.
  • Judges appointed by CIWEM will choose the exhibition and winners. The judges’ decision on all matters relating to the competition is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • CIWEM reserves the right to cancel this competition at any stage.
  • The competition is open to all international photographers, both amateur and professional, and of all ages.

Special Notes for Mobile Category

  • This category includes images shot on any mobile phone or tablet
  • It is recommended that you use the highest image quality setting your camera can achieve.
  • This category is open to all photographers.
  • Please refer to Digital Specifications for more details

Special Notes for Under 16 Category

  • Only photographs which were taken when the person was aged 16 or under can be entered in to this category.
  • Proof of date of birth may be requested.
  • Please seek permission from your parent/guardian before entering the competition.

Digital Specifications

The following guidelines explain the required specifications for each category at the different stages of the competition. Please ensure that your entries adhere to these guidelines. If any further queries, please check the HELP & FAQs section or contact CIWEM by email.

  • Initial entry: all still photographs must be submitted as JPEGs, saved at a high quality level with a maximum file size of 0.5MB. Each image file must be named with your surname, first name and brief title e.g. SmithJohn_Title.jpeg. Whilst work titles may be too long to be used as image names, a section of your title would be adequate.
  • Proof of authenticity: original digital camera RAW files will be required if your image is shortlisted. Digital images captured as JPEG are allowed, providing the original un-retouched JPEG is available for inspection. Any work created from more than one original (e.g. stitched images), must be declared as such, and the original captured images should be available for inspection when requested.
  • Printingfor printing in all media and for inclusion in an exhibition, a high-resolution image (preferably TIFF) will be requested if your image is selected.
  • Mobile Category: This includes images shot on any mobile phone or tablet. Images should still be no smaller than 1MB in order to enter them, and a higher resolution version may still be required.

Digital Adjustment Guidelines

The following digital adjustments are not allowed:

  • adding or removing animals, parts of animals, plants, distractions, people etc.
  • composites and sandwich shots that add elements.
  • images that have been digitally manipulated outside of the allowed adjustments.

The following digital adjustments are allowed:

  • removal of sensor dust spots and chromatic aberration
  • levels (in moderation)
  • curves (in moderation)
  • colour (in moderation)
  • saturation (in moderation)
  • contrast work (in moderation)
  • shadow and highlights (in moderation)
  • sharpening (including selective sharpening) in moderation
  • cropping in moderation and as long as a suitable high-res TIFF file can be supplied for printing a large exhibition display
  • dodging, burning and toning (in moderation)
  • neutral density gradients (in moderation)
  • removing lens vignetting
  • panoramas i.e. panoramas created from several images that have been taken from the same location and at the same time, and then combined or stitched using digital techniques, and resulting in a wider view than can be achieved with most wide-angle lenses. (NB: stitched panoramas must be declared in caption information.)
  • multiple exposures are only allowed if this is a feature of the camera and the result is one single file. Entrants must state in the caption if their image is a multiple exposure

If you experience problems with the online entry process, or if you have any questions about entering the Environmental Photographer of the Year that cannot be answered by reading the Rules and Guidelines, or by looking at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), please contact CIWEM by email.