Incredible Winners of the 2023 Environmental Photographer of the Year Highlight Our Planet’s Climate Struggles

2023 Environmental Photographer of the Year

“Black Soldier Fly Farming (I)” by Maurizio di Pietro. Winner, Environmental Photographer of the Year.
“An innovative insect food experiment at the University of Turin assesses the potential of Black Soldier Flies as a source of nutrition for tomorrow’s world.”

Thousands of photographers submitted their images to the 2023 Environmental Photographer of the Year (EPOTY) contest, but it was Italy's Maurizio di Pietro who came out on top. His fascinating image of an experiment that tests the possibilities of black flies as a source of nutrition won him the overall prize in the 16th edition of the competition.

Launched by CIWEM and WaterBear and presented by Nikon in association with MPB and supported by Arup, the contest provides a platform for amateur and professional photographers to reflect the pressing environmental challenges facing our planet. Interestingly, many of this year's category winners find themselves on the frontlines, as they hail from climate-vulnerable countries like Bangladesh, Argentina, and India. They are using their cameras to raise awareness about the struggles their countries are currently facing.

This includes 18-year-old Solayman Hossain, who was named Nikon's Young Environmental Photographer of the Year for an image he shot in a village close to his home in Bangladesh. Taken during monsoon season, it shows a farmer leading his herd of cows through floodwaters, as he attempts to find them food. Jurors were drawn to the image for its beautiful composition and interesting color palette.

“I hope my photo will inspire environmental action by showcasing the importance of nature, raising awareness about environmental issues, and encouraging others to take positive steps towards sustainability,” Hossain shares.

Di Pietro has similar feelings about his winning photograph, which showcases an innovative insect food experiment at the University of Turin. With food insecurity on the rise in Italy, the professional photographer felt that it was his duty to show how academics are looking for unique solutions to the issue. By doing so, he wants to inspire people not to lose hope in the face of these challenges.

“The image encapsulates our dependence on the smallest creatures for survival. Moreover, it is beautifully executed, evoking an almost balletic fragility—apt for the crisis that stares us in the face,” commented juror Arati Kumar-Rao. “It was an image I came back to again and again, and by its nature made me want to know more.”

See more of the winners, as well as some of our favorite shortlisted entries below, and check out the full gallery on the EPOTY website.

The 2023 Environmental Photographer of the Year contest highlights the pressing challenges our planet is facing.

Farmer and cows wading through floodwaters in Bangladesh

“Flood-Affected Area” by Solayman Hossain. Winner, Nikon's Young Environmental Photographer of the Year.
“A farmer and his cows are forced to wade through floodwater to find food, after the road became submerged in water during monsoon season.”

Buffaloes scour parched grasslands for food during a drought

“Survival Of Buffaloes In Drought” by Md Shafiul Islam. Winner, Keeping 1.5 Alive.
“Buffaloes scour parched grasslands for food during a drought.”

Bioluminescent coral in Aruba

“Corals At Night” Nicolas Marin Benitez. Winner, Recovering Nature.
“A nocturnal coral reef comes to life during a night dive in Aruba. Bioluminescence is a fascinating natural phenomenon illustrating the health of the oceans.”

Drongo bird uses light from an urban petrol pump to catch termites during monsoon season

“Intruder” by Anirban Dutta. Winner, Adapting for Tomorrow.
“A cunning drongo bird uses light from an urban petrol pump to catch termites during monsoon season, suggesting waning food sources in the wild. The camera uses its built-in functions of multiple exposures and long exposure to create an image combining three photos.”

Aerial view of plastic waste in Dhaka, Bangladesh

“Walk Through Trash” by Jahid Apu. Winner, MPB Vision of the Future.
“This drone shot shows a bridge surrounded by plastic waste in Dhaka, Bangladesh, one of the most plastic-polluted countries in the world.”

“Price Of An Elephant” by Saurav Kumar Boruah. Shortlist, Keeping 1.5 Alive.
“Three wild elephants died in a village on the edge of a forest, due to electrocution. They used to come to villages during the night-time looking for food; their usual sources have grown scarce due to deforestation. The local villagers paid tribute to the elephants by offering prayers with flowers, incense sticks and coins.”

Many of this year's winners hail from climate-vulnerable countries, putting them on the frontlines of these environmental hardships.

Red Dog Mine in Kotzebue, Alaska

“Red Dog Mine” by Mustafah Abdulaziz. Runner Up, MPB Vision of the Future.
“The Red Dog Mine is a lead and zinc mine in the Arctic Circle, located near Kotzebue in Alaska, USA.”

Maras Salt Flats in Peru

Salinas De Maras (Maras Salt Flats) by Marina Abello. Shortlist, Adapting for Tomorrow.
“The ponds in Salinas de Maras have been used for salt extraction since the pre-Inca period, and have been in continuous operation since then. Located in the Sacred Valley, the Salinas consist of approximately 4,500 salt pans, set in stepped terraces of irregular stone walls that follow the Qaqahuiñay hill. These traditional salt mining practices have a lower environmental impact than industrial methods, such as mining and evaporation from brine ponds.”

Kenyan shepherd crying over the bodies of dead baby goats

“Devastated Shepherd” by Frederick Dharshie Wissah. Shortlist, Keeping 1.5 Alive.
“Mr. Loonkishu Lemerketo of the Samburu sobs as he points to his three dead goat kids. They died because their dehydrated mother was unable to produce milk. The Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists who herd cattle and keep goats, sheep and camels. They have been among the people worst impacted by the climate change-related severe drought in Kenya.
At the time of this photo (October 2022), Kenya had been contending with 5 back-to-back failed rainy seasons and the worst drought in 40 years. This drought has robbed the Samburu of their livelihoods and their food security.”

Divers installing concrete structures for coral restoration

“Guaranteeing Bali's Reef A Future” by Giacomo D'Orlando. Shortlist, Recovering Nature.
“Two local divers install concrete structures in a new coral restoration site. The local NGO Perkumpulan Pemandu Penyelam Amed (P3A) works together with Dutch NGO Coral Reef Care (CRC) to restore the marine ecosystem damaged by unsustainable fishing by building artificial reefs on damaged reef areas. Natural recovery of the coral reef is unlikely without this additional support. Coral recruits are transplanted onto these artificial structures, which vary in materials and dimensions to maximize the refuge area for different fauna.”

Fire helicopter in Spain dumping water on a fire

“Quick Assistance” by Adrián Irago. Shortlist, Keeping 1.5 Alive.
“A helicopter from the San Xoan Forest Fire Reinforcement Brigade (BRIF) performs an unloading manoeuvre in the town of Moreiras in the province of Ourense. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. Galicia, and especially the province of Ourense, suffer forest fires every year that destroy natural heritage and endanger people. In 2022, more than 51,000 hectares were burned in Galicia, representing 19% of the total hectares burned in Spain, according to Government data. The rural environment of Galicia is especially vulnerable due to depopulation and an aging demographic: there are not enough resources to prevent or manage the mountainside fires.”

Horse and cart going over dry river in Bangladesh

“Crossing The Riverbed” by Ahsanul Haque Nayem. Shortlist, MPB Vision of the Future.
“The Jamuna river in the Bogura district dries up completely every year, but during the rainy season, it is flooded again. When the river is dry, horse carts are the only means of transportation for the people of the Char.”

Environmental Photographer of the Year: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by EPOTY.

Related Articles:

Landscape Photography Awards Rewards Authenticity in Photography

Andean Bear Resting in a Tree Wins Nature Photographer of the Year Award

25 Powerful Winning Photos From the 2023 Nature Conservancy Photo Contest

25 Incredible Photos in the Running for Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.

Sponsored Content