A recent Proceedings B cover: The Namibia bush cricket climbing over the edge of a glass plate

As part of our commitment to promote science to a wide and general audience, and in a joint collaboration between Biology Letters and Proceedings B, we are delighted to launch the inaugural Royal Society Publishing Photography competition.

Photographs can be used to make science more tangible and accessible by illustrating theories and hypotheses using real examples in nature or in the lab. We are therefore inviting submissions which can be related to underlying biological principles, while engaging a broad audience of biologists, scientists, and the public with the scientific context of the image.


The competition launches today, and we invite you to submit your photos for consideration. The competition is open to all authors and readers of the journals, and the winning photograph will fulfil two primary criteria:

  • it will convey an interesting biological phenomenon; and
  • it will be aesthetically pleasing.

All entries will be judged equally on these two criteria by the judging panel: Alex Badyaev, University of Arizona, Claire Spottiswoode, Cambridge University, and Innes Cuthill, Bristol University.


The competition will be split into the following three categories, each representing a key area within biological sciences:

  • Behaviour
  • Ecology and Environmental Science
  • Evolutionary Biology


The overall winner will receive a £500 cash prize, and the category winners will each receive a framed print of their photograph. A selection of winning and runner-up photographs will be displayed in an exhibit at the Royal Society.


Technical requirements

Maximum 20 entries per person.

Digital files must be submitted as JPEGs at 1920 pixels along the longest dimension (with no watermarks, signatures or borders included).

Shortlisted entrants will be required to provide original RAW or JPEG files, as well as full-resolution TIFF images suitable for printing (instructions will be provided at a later date).

Entries that cannot be authenticated or are not of an acceptable quality (as deemed by the judges) will be disqualified.

Permitted digital adjustments include tone and contrast, cropping, burning, sharpening, dodging, noise reduction, minor cleaning work, HDR, stitched panoramas, and/or within-camera focus stacking using multiple exposure taken at the same location at the same time. Any adjustments MUST be reported within the caption and should not misrepresent the reality of nature.

The addition or removal of any animals or parts of animals, plants, people, objects, etc. is not allowed.

The description must provide a succinct explanation of the behaviour/story/event, and whether any post-processing beyond those outlined above was used. For example, please include the location, the species photographed, the behaviour shown, the context of the shot, etc.

The entrant’s name should not be included anywhere in the caption, the entry title or the image itself. EXIF details should also be kept intact (e.g. camera, lens, exposure, etc).

This competition will not consider the following: computer manipulated and generated images, composite images, scientific illustrations, data visualizations, x-rays and CT scans.

The judges’ decision is final.


All entries should be submitted by sending a compressed image file along with a description to http://photocompetition.royalsociety.org. Any queries can be sent to imagecomp@royalsociety.org. Entries must be submitted by the closing date of 30th September.


This competition is free to enter and the winners will be notified and announced at a special event towards the end of the year.


11 Responses to “Launching the inaugural Biology Letters and Proceedings B photography competition”

    • Royal Society Publishing

      Royal Society Publishing

      We’ve added the limit to the blog now – 20 per person. Thanks!

    • Royal Society Publishing

      Royal Society Publishing

      These are eligible, but please do bear in mind that
      all submissions need to fit into one of our three categories of Ecology and
      Environmental Science; Evolutionary Biology; and Behaviour.

    • Royal Society Publishing

      Royal Society Publishing

      Thanks for your question. Focus stacking using
      post-processing software isn’t allowed. However, within-camera focus stacking
      (e.g. HDR) is completely fine.

  1. Sonia VW

    Could you provide the maximum number of words of the description? It would facilitate the process.

    • Royal Society Publishing

      Royal Society Publishing

      Thanks for your question. The description
      doesn’t have a word limit but we would advise you to be concise in your
      explanation of the photograph and the story behind it.


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