/ 8 September 2022

R250 000 in prizes for SA photographer of the year winners

Winner 2021 Wildlife: Tim Driman, Down The Hatch
Winner 2021_Wildlife: Tim Driman, Down the hatch

Nature and wildlife photographers have until 31 December to enter their best photographs for the 2022 South African Photographer of the Year Awards (SAPOTY). The competition spans six categories covering the country’s natural landscape, fauna and flora.

According to SAPOTY, photographers over the age of 18, whether novice or professional, can enter any of the six categories — namely, mammals, birds, animals in the environment, black and white, landscape and underwater. Photographers under 18 can enter the Young Photographer of the Year Award

There are strict rules for entries concerning the time in which the photos were taken, the ethics of the photograph and the geographical location where it was taken. 

“Images have to be taken between 1 January 2019 and [December 31 2022],” according to SAPOTY. “All images must have been taken within the South African borders and coastline up to the border of Namibia on the western side and Mozambique on the eastern side.”

Photographing fauna and flora 

“From elephant shrews to elephants, from honey badgers to bats”, the mammals category calls on photographers who have captured photographs that express the animals’ characters and showcase a unique insight into their individuality. 

The birds category should demonstrate the diversity of the region’s birdlife, which has been home to some of the rarest birds worldwide. 

For photographs entered into the animals in the environment category, the medium is the message as the image should evoke atmosphere and a sense of place, according to SAPOTY. 

South Africa’s landscape is just as diverse as the animals that live in it, which is the call for the landscape category. 

“With the habitat as a major element of the picture, we are searching for images that portray the importance of the environment and ecosystems that sustain the wildlife within them,” SAPOTY notes in the competition guidelines. 

South Africa’s wildlife extends below the surface for photographs entering the underwater category and should give “insight into a hidden world with its animals, plants and habitats both in fresh and saltwater”. 

In addition to the underwater world, SAPOTY’s black and white award is in pursuit of wildlife photographers who have a “unique, inspired and beautiful [style]”.  

Winner of the 2021 prize, Photographer of the Year and Abstract: Melanie Cornelius, Spring-Buck-features

Do no harm

The photographs entered into SAPOTY must capture a perfect moment in time with little manipulation to the original image. 

“General adjustments are allowed, such as contrast, saturation, sharpness, white balance, shadows/highlights, black and white rendition, removal of chromatic aberrations and lens distortion, and sensor spots, cropping, digital graduated grey filter and local adjustments and removal of vignetting, only if done with moderation and retaining the original character of the image,” according to the SAPOTY rules. 

Photographers who enter the competition need to have done no harm to the animals and landscapes they have captured, according to SAPOTY’s rule guide. Images of wildlife cannot misrepresent the reality of the natural world, while caption information must also be accurate. 

“Entrants must not intentionally disturb an animal or injure, distress or damage an animal for the purposes of photography; and/or use tape lures or decoys to attract behaviour from an animal,” according to SAPOTY. 

Photographers who practise “live baiting” are strictly prohibited. Any other means of luring animals must be declared in the caption of the photograph’s entry. 

Entry to the South African Photographer of the Year Award opened on 1 August and closes at midnight on 31 December.  Submissions are done via the SAPOTY entry portal for professional, amateur and young photographers. Prizes range from first-place prizes valued at R137 000 to second-place prizes of R12 000.