Bird Photographer of the Year Competition Rules

Entry into the Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2020 is subject to the rules as set out below. In addition, details of Bird Photographer of the Year’s Privacy Policy can be viewed here.

1. The Promoter

The promoter is Bird Photographer of the Year Ltd, 38 Bridge Street, Andover, Hampshire, SP10 1BW in association with Nature Photographers Ltd.

2. Eligibility

The competition is global and open to people of all ages and nationalities.

The competition is global and open to people of all ages and nationalities.

Employees or agents of Bird Photographer of the Year Ltd, Nature Photographers Ltd, their families or other persons connected with this promotion (excluding the sponsors) are not eligible to enter. Contributing photographers to the Nature Photographers Ltd images library are eligible to enter the competition. Employees of Wildlife Worldwide, The Travelling Naturalist and associated companies are not eligible to enter our Inspirational Encounters Award. Should prospective entrants be in any doubt as to their eligibility, then confirmation from the Promoter should be sought by emailing

Entrants aged under 18 years on 30th November 2019 (the closing date of the competition) must gain the permission of a parent or guardian to enter the competition. It is the responsibility of each entrant (and the entrant's parent or guardian) to ensure that they have read and will abide by these rules and terms and conditions. By submitting an entry, each entrant (and the entrant's parent or guardian) agrees to these rules, that their entry complies with these rules, and that they will be liable to the Promoter and their licensees in respect of any damages or losses incurred as a breach of the Rules.

The Young Bird Photographer of the Year Award is only open to photographers under the age of 18 in three age divisions as follows:

0-8 Years; 9-13 years; 14-17 years.

3. Submission Rules

No entries will be accepted by email or post.

Photographs of any species of bird taken anywhere in the world are eligible for entry. Images (including similar images taken from the same series of photographs) that have previously won a national or international photography award (including winner, runner-up, highly commended or equivalent) or are entered into a competition where the results are pending, are not eligible for entry. Further confirmation of the above will be sought for images that are included on the shortlist to be announced in January 2020.  

With the exception of images entered into the ‘Creative Imagery’ category (where digital manipulation is actively encouraged), images submitted for entry to all other categories should be the result of a single image. Photographers may make reasonable use of digital darkroom techniques which enhance quality but do not distort the photograph. Any major alterations should be avoided.

Adjustment to levels, curves, colour balance, colour saturation, dodging and burning, selective adjustments using layers and blemish and dust spot removal are all examples of acceptable manipulation.

Excessive cloning out/removal of elements within the image, merging two images or more and replacing backgrounds are all examples of processes that will invalidate an entry in all categories, with the exception of the ‘Creative Imagery’ category.

Any changes to the original Photograph not itemised here are unacceptable and will render the Photograph ineligible for a prize. A copy of the original camera file will be requested for all images that are included in the shortlist announced in January 2020 (with the exception of images entered into the ‘Creative Imagery’ category). The Promoter reserves the right to eliminate entries where such a request is ignored or where it is suspected that the rules have been infringed.

Although photographs of captive birds are eligible for entry, entrants are obliged to disclose this information in the image description at the point of upload, as the judges will need to take the circumstances of the image capture into consideration.

Entrants are reminded that they are responsible for obtaining any necessary licences that may be required to photograph protected species or areas. Proof may be requested by the Promoter and entries disqualified where it is suspected the relevant permissions have not been obtained.

The use of tape luring and/or the use of live bait to obtain a photograph, although not expressly prohibited within the rules of the contest, is neither condoned or encouraged by the competition, its Promoters, Sponsors or Partners. The Promoter and its Sponsors and Partners expect all photographers to adhere to an ethical code of conduct when obtaining the images entered in the competition, ensuring that the practices employed do not: inflict any form of cruelty or suffering to another living animal; the behaviour of the wildlife is not adversely affected; there is no detrimental effect on the environment. Full disclosure of the techniques employed should be provided at the point of image upload in the image description and will be requested for all images included in the shortlist announced in January 2020. The Promoter reserves the right to disqualify any entry where they suspect either full disclosure has not been made or where the methods employed by the photographer are judged to breach the ethical code of conduct. It is the responsibility of the Entrant to ensure that the relevant permissions have been obtained when photographing on private land.

Full guidelines on permissible image sizes and types, and what image manipulation and retouching is allowed are provided on the Preparing Your Images page on this website.

4. Prizes

Each of the competition categories will be awarded prizes for Gold, Silver and Bronze positions as stated in the category descriptions. There will also be a further two images in each category awarded an ‘Honourable Mention’ with further images receiving Commendations from the judges at their discretion - there is no prize associated with either of these. The category winners will go forward to the final judging round where a single image will be chosen and the title of ‘Bird Photographer of the Year’ will be presented to the winning photographer together with a further cash prize of £5,000. A separate prize of Olympus camera equipment (value approximately £3,500) as described in the Prizes section will be presented to the photographer with the best portfolio of images entered into our Best Portfolio award. A portfolio will comprise a selection of 6 images demonstrating consistency of skill and technique. A separate prize of a Gitzo tripod and head as described in the Prizes section will be presented to the photographer judged to have the best entry in the Conservation Award.

The Young Bird Photographer of the Year is divided into three age sections: the winner of the 14-17 years section will receive £300, the winner of the 9-13 years section will receive £200 and winner of the 0-8 years section will receive £100. The Judges will then choose the overall Young Bird Photographer of the Year winner from the three age category winners. The overall Young Bird Photographer of the Year winner will then also receive a pair of Swarovski Optik CL Pocket binoculars. Please refer to our Prizes page for further information.

Winners will be notified following the completion of the final judging process and will be formally announced on or before 1 April 2020 and the winners invited to attend the prize ceremony to be held at the 2020 Rutland Birdfair or alternative time and venue at the Promoter's discretion. No expenses incurred by the winners in attending the awards presentation will be covered by The Promoter, Sponsors or Partners. In the event that the prizes as stated are not available for any reason, The Promoter reserves the right at their discretion to replace the prize with another of equivalent value.

5. Competition Judging

The initial judging will take the form of an initial elimination round, followed by a further round scored online by a panel of experts, producing a shortlist of images in each of the Categories. The shortlist of panel-judged images will be announced in January 2020.

The panel-judged category winners and runners-up will be decided upon by the judging panel, and the category winners will then go forward to a final round of judging where the 'Bird Photographer of the Year' will be decided, together with the ‘Young Bird Photographer of the Year'.

6. Timing

Winners will be formally notified under embargo no later than 31 March 2020 following the completion of the final judging process. The results will be formally announced no later than 1 April 2020. The prize ceremony will be held at the 2020 Rutland Birdfair in August 2020 or alternative time and venue at the Promoter's discretion. Equipment prizes will be awarded on the day of the awards presentation to those winners attending. Arrangements to post prizes to those not attending will be made as soon as practicably possible following the awards event. Cash prizes will be paid no later than 30 September 2020.

Please refer to our Judges page for more information on the Judges. The Judges’ decision is final and binding in all matters and no correspondence will be entered into.

7. Copyright and permissions

All imagery MUST be the total and exclusive work of the submitting photographer and may not include any element that is the copyright of another. The Copyright for each image entered will remain with its respective photographer. By entering the Competition and submitting your photograph(s), you hereby grant the Promoter, its sponsors a non-exclusive, irrevocable license to use your photograph(s) for any purpose connected with the Competition, including (but not limited to), promoting the Competition within printed and online media, the inclusion within printed and digital versions of the Competition book, the inclusion within printed and digital versions of the Competition calendar and other merchandise, display at exhibitions, use in press, promotional and marketing materials, social media networks and for the promotion of any future photographic competition in both print and online media. All images will be credited to the photographer where used.

8. Liabilities

The promoter is excluded from liability for any loss, damage or injury which might occur to the winner arising from his or her acceptance of the prize. The entrant will indemnify the Promoter for all liabilities, including legal costs, in relation to any action or complaint taken by any third party against the Promoter in relation to the entrant’s photograph(s).

Young Bird Photographer of the Year: entry into this award is free of charge for up to 8 images. Entrants must be aged 17 years or under on 30th November 2019 to be eligible for this category.

9. General

The promoter reserves the right to amend these Terms and Conditions. These Terms and Conditions shall be governed by English law. When a photograph is submitted and the entry date has passed, the entry cannot be changed or withdrawn. No refunds will be given. Entry to the Awards shall be deemed full and unconditional acceptance of the terms & conditions.