“Is there anything really 100% ethical when telling other people's stories? Because at the end of the day, unless you're telling your own story, that's the only time when you can be 100% ethical or authentic. When you're telling other people's stories, I don't know if it's possible to not bring in some sort of bias.”

Why an ethics panel?

Our goal is to showcase thought-provoking photos that call attention to our impact and inspire us to live sustainably. We expect these photos to be challenging and that many will raise tough, but important issues such as environmental racism and exploitation.

Our competition has a responsibility to promote robust, transparent, and ethically informed consent practices in photography. We believe that providing leadership and education on respect for the rights and dignity of all people represented in photography is an essential part of our responsibility as a photography platform.

In order to balance these two interests (i.e. telling important stories while treating the people and subjects with care), we will call on the support from a panel of experts in the fields of conservation and wildlife photography, photojournalism, and photo ethics. You can find out more about our approach to ethics in photography in our ethics statement.

Introducing the 2023 ethics panel

Savannah Dodd

I am very happy to work with the Environmental Photographer of the Year as they continue working to develop robust strategies for considering ethics in the competition.

Savannah is an anthropologist and photographer, and founding director of the Photography Ethics Centre. This organisation aims to raise awareness about the ethics of taking and sharing visual media. Savannah is a member of the Ethical Journalism Network’s UK Committee and of the board of Source Magazine. She earned her PhD in anthropology at Queen's University Belfast for her work on the ethics of archiving photographs in a post-conflict context.​

Tahnee Burgess

Tahnee’s work focuses on how to communicate climate news. In her current role as a Media and Communications Officer with Australia’s National Environment Science Program's Climate Systems Hub she connects decision makers and Traditional Owners with Australia's best available climate science. She is also a member of Monash University’s Climate Change Communication Research Hub.

I'm very excited to be a part of this panel. Discussing how we capture, portray, and appreciate our environment is more important now than ever.

Tendai Marima

A photograph that tells a powerful story cannot be ignored and this competition aims to showcase some of that work. I hope the selection process will show not only the best talent, but some of the neglected yet important issues we, as people, need to take urgent action on.

Working across East and Southern Africa, Tendai has over 5 years of professional journalistic experience as a writer, photographer and video producer. Tendai is a member of Native Agency, Fairpicture, African Women Photograph, Women Photograph, the Everyday Projects and a founding member of Everyday Zimbabwe. She is currently a fellow with the Nature Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF).

Ethics proceedings

The ethics panel will be involved in the selection process after the initial submissions screening and before the jury panel receives any photos to review, taking the following steps:

  1. Review any photos that were flagged by our screening team
  2. Propose requests for more information from the photographer
  3. Photographers have a week to provide further context and background as requested by the panel
  4. The panel meets to discuss each photo in light of the additional information and decides if any photos should be disqualified
  5. Disqualified photos do not pass through to the jury panel

Through this process we hope to ensure that any photos selected for publication have a robust grounding in ethical photography practices, and represent their subject matter with dignity and respect.


The ethics panel will consider the below elements in their individual review and joint discussion. Submitting photographers are encouraged to also review the ethics section of our competition rules before submitting their work. Most of these concerns can be mitigated by providing as much context as possible, in the photo description or ethics statement (as appropriate). The submission form features specific prompts to help the photographers consider what kind of information to include. 

    • Stereotyping While stereotypes may not be untrue, but they are incomplete. When providing additional information, photographers are encouraged to consider how they can frame the photo in a wider situation or problem. 
    • Sensationalism We don’t accept photos that exclusively benefit from (climate) disasters.  
    • Consent & identity The submission form includes a space where the photographer can upload a consent or release form. We understand that such forms may not be suitable for every occasion. In those cases where a consent form is not available, we expect that the photographer discussed and received specific and ongoing consent from the person or people they photographed, while considering the below points. 
      • Consent may need to be given at different levels, e.g. for (re-) distribution. 
      • Consent may need to be given at different stages: prior, ensuing, subsequent. 
      • The value of active vs passive consent (e.g. body language). 
    • Impact on wildlife When photographing wildlife the most important thing is to have as little impact as possible. We expect all photographers who shoot wildlife to carry out the below steps. 
      • Preparation, including research on: key life processes, natural behaviours, symbiosis with ecosystem (i.e. what should not be disturbed), predator behaviours. 
      • Taking the photo: blend into the environment, no feeding / baiting / lures, no geotagging of photo locations, and be careful of using drones – the sound and / or presence in the sky can alert or scare animals. 
    • Post-production (see also our digital adjustments section in the competition rules): do not add elements that weren’t present in the original photo, do not create composites of photos (other than to create an artificial wide-angle shot), provide transparency in captions / descriptions.