Media releases for the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Competition.

Photography prize shortlist puts our natural world in focus

Today the South Australian Museum in partnership with Australian Geographic reveal the 2021 shortlist of images for the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition.

Since 2004 the Museum has welcomed photographers of all ages, skill levels, and nationalities to submit images of fauna, flora or landscapes in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the New Guinea regions. This year’s competition judges, Narelle Autio, Trent Parke and Stavros Pippos, canvassed an extraordinary 2,206 entries from 17 countries – the second-highest number of entries in the competition’s history.

Director of the South Australian Museum Brian Oldman said the work of this year’s finalists has an added poignancy after a year of upheaval that prompted many around the world to consider nature in a new light.

“‘Nature is healing’ is a phrase many of us kept hearing and reading in 2020 as city streets were emptied, our skies grew clearer, and wildlife began to reassert itself in urban spaces. At the same time, as we spent weeks and months in our homes, the act of going outdoors to convene with nature gained a renewed importance for our health and wellbeing. As regular life gradually returns, these images are the perfect inspiration to continue to deepen our relationship with the natural world – and reflect on our impact on it.”

From glowing waves of bioluminescent algae lighting up the shoreline of Jervis Bay, New South Wales, to an Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) walking on water across the pink lakes of Victoria’s Mallee region, the 2021 shortlist offers a snapshot of how some of the world’s most talented nature photographers spent this eventful year, capturing a wide variety of species and ecosystems at their most striking moments.

Following last year’s winner Ben Blanche, whose nighttime landscape of a firefront moving through Mount Barney National Park captured the drama and dread of the 2019/2020 bushfire season, this year’s shortlist also reflects on our continued impact on nature, from Justin Gilligan’s shot of a Columbus crab examining a bundle of disposable face masks that washed up on Lord Howe Island – spillage from a cargo ship container that went overboard in rough seas – to Douglas Gimsey’s image of a little penguin (Eudyptula minor) being mobbed by a crowd of phone-wielding onlookers.

 The competition encompasses categories including Animal Behaviour, Animal Habitat, Animal Portrait, Botanical, Junior, Landscape, Monochrome, Our Impact, Threatened Species and the Portfolio Prize.  

On Thursday 26 August 2021 the South Australian Museum will announce the overall winner for 2021 plus category winners and runners-up.

Editor-in-Chief of Australian Geographic Chrissie Goldrick says, “the unprecedented restrictions throughout the pandemic have made me particularly wistful for the vistas and landforms that these talented photographers are such experts at capturing. Their powerful evocations of the unique landscapes of our region provide inspiration to embrace all opportunities to explore locally during this time of limited travel.”

The resulting exhibition will open at the South Australian Museum from 27 August and run until 31 October 2021.

For further information please visit:

Media contact:

Ashleigh Glynn
Communications Lead, South Australian Museum

0466 389 019 or

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