Celebrating a decade of award-winning environmental photography

  • Written by  Nina Janmaat
  • Published in Geophoto
Celebrating a decade of award-winning environmental photography
23 May
For the past ten years, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management has provided photographers with a platform to express in artistic, but impactful ways the real issues facing the world today

Ahead of the 2017 awards, and celebrating its tenth anniversary, the CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year competition has looked back on some of the best, and most challenging, images to come out of the prestigious annual photography awards.

Terry Fuller, Chief Executive of CIWEM describes EPOTY as ‘one of the most powerful vehicles for conveying the intensity of humankind’s relationship with the natural world; highlighting the terrible impacts being wrought on our planet by its most dominant species. The competition also celebrates humanity’s innate ability to survive and innovate, lending hope to us all that we can overcome challenges to live sustainably.’

For the 2017 awards, the organisers have pulled in some big-name judges to sort through 10,000 entries form across the globe, including Stephen Fry, Ben Fogle and Steve Backshall. For Fry, the competition ‘encourages all those with cameras (which is most of us these days, I suppose) to look at our environment with new eyes – to see the environmental impact of things around us, sometimes in the most surprising places. Our cameras can be turned from the narcissistic tool of the selfie into a weapon in the war on environmental destruction.’ Fuller adds, ‘There is no doubt that raising awareness is part of the solution to tackling some of the world’s environmental issues.’

For 2017, CIWEM has introduced three themes for photographers to focus on: The Urban Environment; Climate Change, Extremes and Resilience; and People, Nature and Economy. Judges will be looking for pictures that provide an impact (whether subtle or immediate) or offer strong ideas, shots that offer originality, as well as pictures that show an awareness of composition. The ultimate winner will be an image that helps to change people’s vision of the environment.

We asked Fuller to choose one word to describe the image he has for the world, he replied, ‘Lots of words spring to mind. Fragile. Beautiful. Extraordinary. Unique. But I think the word “home” best describes the planet we live in. A home for people, a home for animals, a home for nature, a home for all. We all have a stewardship role and a responsibility to look after our home and ensure that future generations can enjoy the planet for years to come.’

Full details for entry can be found by clicking here.

Previous EPOTY Winners

2007 Sudipto Das Hard World

2007, Sudipto Das (India), Hard World

‘My photograph is one of the most interestingly candid photographs I have ever taken in my career. It portrays the socio-economic condition of third world countries – lack of housing, inappropriate hygiene and unhealthy environments increase the risk of exposure to diseases and street violence for poor children such as the boy in the picture.’

2008 Abhijit Nandi Happy in Her Own World

2008, Abhijit Nandi (India), Happy in her own world

‘The woman in my picture is returning home from the paddy field after a long day at work. She never thought a village woman could be the subject of a photograph, so when I told her I’d like to take a picture of her, she just laughed.’

2009 Bolucevschi Vitali Nicolai Talking About Stars

2009, Bolucevschi Vitali Nicolai (Moldova), Talking About Stars

‘On a sunny day I took a camera and set out to photograph something of the life of ants. At first I was no good as the ants moved very quickly and I was easily distracted. But gradually I was drawn to a group which was climbing up a nearby dandelion. They would each pull out one seed and then parachute to the ground. Unfortunately I could not photograph these moments well, but I did manage to get this one shot of the last few ants before they flew down.’

2010 Florian Schulz Flight of the Rays

2010, Florian Schulz (Germany), Flight of the Rays

‘During an aerial expedition over the coast of Baja California Sur, I came across something I had never seen before. Not even my pilot, who has surveyed this area for 20 years, had seen anything like it. As we glided high above over the water looking for whales, a large dark spot caught our attention. As we got closer we started to discover its nature: an unprecedented congregation of rays. The group was as thick as it was wide, all heading towards the same direction. I have asked around why this took place but no one has been able to explain it to me. After such a unique sighting, I realise there are so many marvels in the oceans that we are yet to understand. Our knowledge of the oceans is so limited; I just hope that we are in time to rescue it before it collapses from pollution and over fishing.’

2011 Chan Kwok Hung Homeless

2011, Chan Kwok Hung (Hong Kong), Homeless

‘The photo was taken in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal and is of two children who live nearby to the junkyard with their grandmother. Every day they search the junkyard for something useful that they can resell for money so they can buy food. If they don’t find anything their grandmother blames them seriously. Unfortunately, they had found nothing for a few days, the little boy feels very hungry… I gave them some money and a biscuit after taking this photo, but who will help them afterwards…’

2012 2013 Michele Palazzi Gone with Dust

2012/2013, Michele Palazzi (Italy), Gone with Dust

Palazzi’s striking image shows a young boy and his sister during a sand storm in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia.

2014 Mohammad Fahim Ahamed Riyad In search of life

2014, Mohammad Fahim Ahamed Riyad (Bangladesh), In Search of Life

Riyad’s moving image reveals a fireman searching for signs of life following a fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He comments: ‘About 400 shanty homes were gutted and four people died in this incident, including a child of six-years-old. However, no casualties were ever officially reported and the reason for the fire remains unknown.’

2015 Uttam Kamati Watering Melon

2015, Uttam Kamati (India), Watering Melon

Kamati’s winning photo depicts a husband and wife watering watermelon saplings on the Teesta river bed, in West Bengal, India. Kamati is an amateur photographer and filmmaker from India, who captures the work of humanitarian projects, transforming these endeavours into candid, touching scenes.

2016 Sara Lindstrom Wildfire

2016, Sara Lindström (Sweden), Wildfire

‘It was an exceptionally warm day in July in southern Alberta when I came across this massive pinkish smoke plume rising high towards the sky. The big flames were thriving on the dry land and had me completely mesmerised in fear and awe.’

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Related items

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today


Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester




Travel the Unknown


Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...


NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...


Nature reserves and protected areas in Germany have lost 76…


An investigation into shark fins and ray gills sold in…


Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…


The rapid spread of Asian hornets is likely to make…


Europe provides more than €112billion (£97billion) in subsidies to fossil…


A study of various fish populations has found dramatic reductions…


The seasonal changes of September promise much photographic potential for…


Shipping traffic can increase lightning strikes, according to a pioneering…


New documentary travels to remote Antarctica to unpack the complex…


The deaths of these majestic creatures had remained an unsolved…


Over a two-year period, a new species of plant or…


As part of New Zealand’s plan to cull millions of…


A project to map the ocean floor is raising concerns…


Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…


Dismay as a Spanish baby dolphin becomes the latest victim…


Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…


The effect of plastics on the world’s oceans is posing…


Camera technology may have come a long way since the…


The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn…


Despite their high profiles, most of the world’s national animal…