1st Annual Environmental and Social Justice

Photography Competition

 (In a hurry? Check our summary of how to enter...and our summary in español and Bahasa Indonesia)

(Helpful Tips)

PLEASE NOTE: the deadline for CIC's 1st photography competition

has been extended until 00.01 GMT on 3 March 2015 - there is still time to enter!

Critical Information Collective's new annual environmental and social justice photography competition is open for entries until 28 February 2015. Help us to build and share a powerful collection of environmental and social justice images from around the world by entering. Everyone is welcome, there are separate categories for activists/communities, and professional photographers. Our themes focus on Buen Vivir, climate change, food sovereignty and energy justice (for more detail see below).

Acceptances and winning entries will be notified by 31 March 2015. The 24 winning images will be printed and exhibited in Paris during the UNFCCC climate change summit in November 2015. All competition ‘acceptances’ will also be exhibited online until 31 December 2015.

We are delighted to announce that the following external judges have agreed to judge the final short-listed images:

  • Caroline Bennett, Amazon Watch
  • Maarten van den Berg, XminY Action Fund
  • Olivier Blond, GoodPlanet Foundation
  • Jose Elosegui, Radio Mundo Real
  • David Hirsch, Friends of the Earth International
  • Mohammed Ikhwan, Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI/Federation of Indonesian Peasant Unions)
  • Mary Lou Malig, Global Forest Coalition
  • Peter Menzel, Peter Menzel Photography
  • Sadaf Rassouf Cameron, The Kindle Project
  • Jason Taylor, The Source Image
  • Amy Yenkin, Open Society Foundation Documentary Photography Project

CIC’s environmental and social justice image library

CIC’s environmental and social justice image library is a new and collaborative space for sharing and distributing high quality images about social and environmental justice issues. We aim to enhance the visibility and voice of activists and communities around the world who are challenging growing corporate power and inequality, and to rekindle public optimism about new ways of running our societies.

Many of the images in our library have a creative commons (CC) licence, but even those that have a Royalty Free (RF) licence are freely available to our registered under-resourced ‘civil society members’ (CSMs). Professional photographers may also use the site to sell Rights Managed (RM) images.

The members of the collective are all environmental and social justice campaigners with a passion for campaigns communications and photography, and we will also be involved in judging the competition. We are Ann Doherty, Ronnie Hall, Mary Lou Malig, Luka Tomac and Joseph Zacune. You can find out more about us here.

Why you should enter the competition!

The main purpose of our competition is to reach out to both amateur and professional photographers and encourage you to join our growing community! Collectively we can generate, bring together and share strong environmental and social justice imagery from around the world, to increase our campaign messages.

We hope you will enjoy and benefit from participating in our competition. The 24+ winning images will be printed and exhibited in Paris during COP 20 of the UNFCCC in November 2015. All competition ‘acceptances’ will also be exhibited online until 31 December 2015.

In addition images from winning photographers and those gaining acceptances will be automatically eligible for inclusion in CIC’s image library (if you wish). You will be helping our registered under-resourced activists and communities around the world to access more powerful imagery for their campaigns at no cost (if you choose a CC or RF licence), but you can also sell Rights Managed images if you want to.

Your images can then be found by people searching specifically for environmental and social justice photography, including other activists, media and publishers. If you are providing images from your own community or campaign, congratulations! You have found a great new place to share your campaign messages! (There’s lots of room for text too.)

Your entry donation will be used to help cover our basic operating costs during the year (such as server space and web management, for example). This is really important for us: it will contribute to CIC’s continued existence as an independent radical campaigns communication hub. It could also help us to translate more of our website into Spanish (we have a linked information website which is already in English and Spanish). Don’t worry if you really cannot afford to make a donation though, please contact us to discuss a waiver (comp@criticalcollective.org).

When the competition is finished all photographers with images that gained ‘acceptances’ will be invited to add them to the image library. Please note we will not transfer your images across to the library without your explicit permission. If you do not reply to the transfer request, your images will be deleted from the system one month after the exhibition finishes, ie by 1 February 2016.

Please note that participation in the competition does not require you to forfeit your copyright. Entries in competition galleries will be hidden until the winners are announced, and can only be viewed by CIC collective members and judges. After the winners are announced, exhibited ‘accepted’ and winning images cannot be downloaded from the exhibition galleries without the explicit permission of the photographer (they will all have an RM licence for the duration of the exhibition). When the exhibition finishes, any images you choose to load to the main image library can be watermarked and are securely protected, and licenced as you wish.

Competition Categories

You can send in a maximum of 4 images. These can be submitted to different categories, or all of them can be submitted to one category. However, each image should only be submitted once: please do not duplicate images in different categories.

The categories are:

(1)  This is what 'Buen Vivir' looks like!

‘Buen Vivir’ is promoted as an alternative way of living in harmony with nature, in contrast to the social inequalities and environmental degradation of neoliberalism. We want to help promote Buen Vivir by showing people that it is more than just a concept. Your images need to demonstrate that this is a feasible and appealing way of life!

(2)  Our changing climate

Images can seek to show how our climate is changing, or how this is impacting on families and communities around the world, or how communities and peoples are striving to adapt to climate change and/or help prevent it.

(3)  Hungry for change: food sovereignty solves hunger and climate change

Small-scale farming helps to cool the earth! We want to show family farmers at work around the world, to show their knowledge, skills, ideas and enthusiasm. Images can address any aspect of food sovereignty, including agroecology, fishing, agroforestry, farming communities and families, and farmers’ markets and food cooperatives. Any images that can create a direct visual link to combating climate change will score additional points.

(4)  Energy justice for all

Images should seek to explain or illustrate an aspect of why some energy technologies and the way they are being developed are unjust (even if they are labeled as being green), while others really work in an equitable way for the communities harnessing and using the energy. Positive energy justice technologies include setting up decentralised solar power projects or community-controlled windpower turbines, for example. It is our view that negative energy technologies include fracking, tar sands extraction, mountain-top removal, dams, industrial-scale biofuels and biomass, and nuclear power.

The winning images will be selected on the basis of how well they convey the category’s campaign message/theme, and their aesthetic quality.

If you are planning to transfer your images to the main library at the end of the competition you are encouraged to send in up to 200 words of text with the image, for campaigning purposes. Please note, however, that only the image will be assessed in terms of competition ‘acceptances’ and winners. (And you can always add the text later, if you want to.)

Prizes and Awards

We are using a system of tiered awards, which is common in photography competitions.

The third tier is ‘acceptances.’ These high quality images will all be exhibited in an on-line exhibition gallery from the date of the announcement of the winning entries, 31 March 2015, until 31 December 2015. There is no limit to the number of acceptances, we will accept all good quality images.

The second tier will consist of the best six images in each category. Three of these will be from the ‘pro/semi-pro’ group (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and three from the ‘activist/community’ group (1st, 2nd, 3rd).

The 24 final awards will be noted and highlighted in the online exhibition, and announced on Critical Information Collective’s home pages.

The 24 winning images will be printed by CIC and exhibited in Paris in November 2015, during COP 21 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations.

Each judge can also select a favourite image (Judge’s Award) if they feel that there are additional images that should be included in the Paris exhibition. These will be identified as a Judge’s Award winner in the on-line exhibition as well.

How to Enter

You need to register as a photographer using the link on the right hand side of this page or the home page. When you have registered, click on the ‘photographer info’ tab to find full details of how to prepare and upload your images to CIC’s image galleries. You might find this a little different to standard photography competition entries, but that's because we would like to introduce you to using CIC's image library.

Briefly however:

  • Your images need to be in ‘jpg’ or ‘jpeg’ format.
  • They should be at least 240ppi (pixels per inch) so that they can be downloaded for use in print. 300ppi is even better. (You may submit 72ppi images if you wish, but smaller files may be too small to print and exhibit.)
  • Your original image should be at least 3600 pixels along the longest side to ensure we can print winning images at the right size to exhibit.
  • There is no upper file size as we want to encourage you to share your top quality images through CIC after the competition.
  • Text should ideally be less than 200 words.

In the Photographers’ Area choose ‘Media Manager’. Click on the ‘Upload Your Images’ link. The ‘Local’ box displays files on the computer you are using - use the 'Browse' option to select your image(s). Then select ‘Hi-Res Auto Resize’, and click ‘Upload’. Your images are now on our server.

Now you need to import your images to the correct competition gallery. Go back to the ‘Media Manager’ menu and select ‘Import Hi-Res’. Select which images you want to import by ticking the boxes (if you want to select them all just tick the top box; alternatively use the ‘Import Icon’ with the little green arrow to the right of the images you want to select).

You should now have a form to fill in on your screen. You need to give your image a title (if not the filename will be used), and say who took the photograph and who has the copyright (probably you!). If you would like to have your image entered to the image library at the end of the competition (if it gains an ‘acceptance’) you can also provide keywords and text (up to about 200 words if you like). But please note this text will not be used for judging.

Find the 'COMPETITION 2015' gallery and select one of the sub-galleries, by theme and depending on whether you are entering as an ‘activist/community’ photographer ('ACTCOM') or ‘professional/semi-pro’ ('PROF'). The codes are in upper case to make them easier to find:

Activist, community and other non-professional photographers 

  • ACTCOM BUEN VIVIR This is what 'Buen Vivir' looks like!
  • ACTCOM CLIMATE Our changing climate
  • ACTCOM FOOD SOV Hungry for change: food sovereignty solves hunger and climate change
  • ACTCOM ENERGY JUSTICE Energy justice for all

Professional and semi-professional photographers  

  • PROF BUEN VIVIR This is what 'Buen Vivir' looks like!
  • PROF CLIMATE Our changing climate
  • PROF FOOD SOV Hungry for change: food sovereignty solves hunger and climate change
  • PROF ENERGY JUSTICE Energy justice for all

Please note that you should only choose one of the other galleries if you are submitting images for the main image library. You are very welcome to do this, but please note (1) to enter the competition your image must be in a competition gallery and (2) please make sure you have read the terms and conditions for submitting photographs to the general CIC image library.

Finally, please select the Rights Managed licence option for the duration of the competition (this keeps things simple, it stops downloads, and the competition galleries are hidden as well).

If you want to revise your information you can return to your images by going to 'media manager' and browsing to the relevant gallery. Find the image you want to revise and look for the little 'pencil and paper' icon. (Please note you won't be able to do this until after your images have been approved - our system is set up so that all images submitted to the library need to be approved; we will of course do this for all competition entries.)


Part of the competition’s mission is to generate financial support for CIC’s environmental and social justice image library as a campaigns communication tool for civil society around the world.

For this reason competition entrants are asked to contribute a donation of US$20 or more in the pro/semi-pro category, and US$10 or more in the ‘activist/community’ category. This donation is the same whether you enter one or the maximum of four images. However, if this is beyond your financial means please contact us at comp@criticalcollective.org to discuss a waiver.

(Please note that if you want to submit images to our library, that's completely free.)

Donations can be made using the PayPal button at the bottom of our main home page. Thank you!

General Contest Guidelines

  • All entries must be submitted through the Critical Information Collective website photos.criticalcollective.org by the date of the contest deadline.
  • Any individual or organisation, with the exception of contest judges and CIC members, are welcome to participate (including both amateur and professional photographers).
  • Your images need to be in ‘jpg’ or ‘jpeg’ format, resolution at least 240ppi (pixels per inch) and the longest side should, ideally, be at least 3600px long, to allow us to print winning images for exhibition. Photos below the minimum resolution, collages and altered images are not eligible for consideration. (You may submit 72ppi images if you wish, but smaller files may be too small to print and exhibit.)
  • Professional/semi-professional (‘pro/semi-pro') photographers are defined as earning more than US$1000 per year from photography.
  • Photos will be judged on the basis of content (relevance to category) and quality (including lighting, composition, etc) by a panel of judges.
  • Entries that violate copyright or the laws of the country in which they were taken are not acceptable. You must be entirely responsible for all the content of your images.
  • Participants must agree to the CIC Photographer Agreement when registering an account on the CIC website. Participants must create an account in order to be eligible for the contest. Accounts are free.
  • All submissions must respect CIC’s ethical guidelines.
  • We cannot accept images with company logos or branding in them where the company in question could allege that the image creates a misleading impression (mainly because we have no funds to cover legal costs!).