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Earth Photo, the international competition and exhibition created by Forestry England and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), is delighted to reveal its shortlist of 50 photographs and four films in a new online exhibition. Showcasing the very best in environmental visual media, Earth Photo’s main objective is to better connect us with the world by telling stories about our planet, its inhabitants and our treatment of both, and to encourage discussion.

Never has there been an experience in recent history more unifying and humbling than the current global health crisis, where the Earth, and our lives upon it, have felt so interdependent. Earth Photo accentuates this: from plastic-polluted seas in Kuwait, habitat loss threatening seals in Antarctica and homeless children in Bangladesh, to Chinese tea pickers, seaweed cultivators in Zanzibar and fishermen from Vietnam. Taken together, the selected images capture a sense of our often awe-inspiring and always dynamic world at a time when human influence and activity is in sharp focus.

There are five categories: People, Place, Nature, Changing Forests and, new for 2020, A Climate of Change. The latter contains stunning entries that explore disastrous impacts upon environments and wildlife, reflect poignantly on how climate change changes us, and surprise with innovative adaptations and positive actions.

Earth Photo, now in its third year, received a record-breaking number of entries in 2020. The volume and quality of images sent in by photographers from across the globe made the selection challenging for the judging panel. This panel was made up of experts from the fields of photography, film, geography and ecology, and was chaired by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Marissa Roth.

Director of the Society, Professor Joe Smith, said: “Photography has a profound influence and the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is more true today than ever before. Images can have a huge influence on public engagement with the world. They can convey meaning and emotion beyond the barriers of language. The enthusiastic response to the competition, especially to the new ‘Climate of Change’ category, shows me that there is a great appetite to share feelings and ideas about these critical issues. Earth Photo lets the RGS-IBG draw attention to some of the best examples globally of this important form of storytelling.”

Out of over 2,600 entries, 54 photographs and videos by 35 artists were selected for the shortlist. The photographers, who hail from around the world – the UK, but also China, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Vietnam, and the United States of America – each bring a unique perspective and hitherto untold tales. The shortlisted images will be exhibited at the Society from 7 December 2020 to 26 February 2021 as well as at Forestry England sites between Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021, including Grizedale and Moors Valley.

Each of the competition’s five categories will have its own winner, who will receive a prize of £250 and there will be an award for the best short film. A First Prize will be awarded to one outstanding photographer at an awards ceremony hosted by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) later in the year.



Notes to editor

  • The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830, our Royal Charter of 1859 is for 'the advancement of geographical science'. Today, we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’.

  • Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and are enhancing forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. Forestry England is an agency of the Forestry Commission.

  • Emma Parker and Penny Harris created Parker Harris in 1990. Their partnership is now one of the leading visual arts consultancies in the UK. A small dynamic team, they pride themselves in expert creation and project management of visual arts projects spanning all disciplines and all scales. Their clients range from trusts and foundations, SMEs and multinationals to charities, arts organisations and individual artists.

  • Earth Photo is an innovative international photography competition and exhibition developed jointly by Forestry England and the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). The project reflects the organisations’ common interest in enabling a better understanding of the world around us through their complementary disciplines of the Environment and Geography.

  • The shortlisted artworks and the winners are selected by an expert panel of photographers, curators, geographers, environmentalists and writers, chaired by award-winning photographer Marissa Roth and including, Matthew Arnold, Photographer; Katie Burton, Editor of Geographical Magazine; Tim Flach, Photographer; Vron Harris, Lecturer and artist; Magdalena Herrera, Director of Photography, Geo Magazine France; Simon Norfolk, Photographer; Michael Pritchard, Director, Education and Public affairs, Royal Photographic Society.