BigPicture exhibit

San Francisco (July 17, 2019)—On Friday, July 26, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco will open BigPicture, the museum’s sixth annual photography exhibit highlighting the best in wildlife and conservation photography from around the planet. Featuring 50 top images from the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition, the exhibit blends captivating imagery with perspectives from Academy scientists and illustrates the power of photography to engage the public in the diversity of life on Earth and our most pressing environmental challenges. The exhibit will be on display through October 20, 2019.

Over 6,500 photographic submissions were entered by photographers representing 67 countries—all of which were reviewed by a judging panel of esteemed professional photographers and photo editors. A gallery of winning images was recently published by bioGraphic, the Academy’s online magazine about science and sustainability and official media sponsor for the BigPicture competition. Gallery photos and captions from the bioGraphic story are available to any interested media outlets upon request.

This year’s Grand Prize image, titled “Black Grouse Showing Off” by photographer Audun Rikardsen of Tromsø, Norway, provides a glimpse at the showy display of a black grouse looking to impress female birds from atop his coastal lookout. Rikardsen spent three years preparing for the shot, and while his original goal was to photograph majestic golden eagles, it was a happy coincidence that this charismatic grouse frequently returned and became comfortable in front of the camera. Rikardsen, who grew up in a small Norwegian fishing community, draws inspiration from his lifelong fascination with the Artic’s rugged landscape and wildlife.

Competition entries were judged by an esteemed panel, including sixth-year Jury Chair Suzi Eszterhas. Eszterhas is joined by international photo editors Lewis Blackwell and Sophie Stafford, and award-winning nature and conservation photographers Esther Horvath, Cristina Mittermeier, Roy Toft, and Greg du Toit. Photo categories include Terrestrial Wildlife, Winged Life, Landscapes, Waterscapes & Flora, Aquatic Life, Art of Nature, and Human/Nature. This year’s photo essay category, Pushing the Limits, documents extraordinary adventures, remote locales, and intense conditions—all to get the perfect shot on the edge of nature.

The Grand Prize and First Place Category winners and their work will be honored at an awards ceremony during the BigPicture NightLife event (21+) on July 25, 2019. Awards include $12,000 in cash prizes and winning images featured in a BigPicture photography exhibit on the museum’s public floor, which welcomes over 1.5 million visitors each year.

Since launching in 2014, BigPicture has established a fast-growing reputation within the photography community, receiving a four-star rating from The Photographer’s Guide to Photo Contests by Photo Shelter five years running. In 2018, Chronicle Books released Wonders, a photography book featuring more than 100 breathtaking images from the BigPicture competition and a foreword by Dr. Sylvia Earle, renowned marine scientist and ocean advocate. The book was nominated for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards in the Photography & Illustrated Travel Book of the Year category that same year.

BigPicture is generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and United Airlines.

Press Contacts

If you are a journalist and would like to receive Academy press releases please contact

Digital Assets

Hi-res and low-res image downloads are available for editorial use. Contact us at to request access.