The Head On Environmental Awards by Australia Geographic is a unique bracket within the roster of Head On Photo Awards categories (Portrait, Landscape and Student), that will support visual storytellers to explore the issues and challenges affecting the wellbeing of our environment. These include, but are not limited to, human-induced climate change, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, unsustainable development, feral invasive species, pollution, ocean acidification and climate-change-induced extreme weather events.

The following photographers look beyond the landscape to see the world as an active agent – wishing to capture, raise awareness and drive positive change for the planet and the ways it is being impacted. There were so many brilliant photographers who do just this, that we had to split the list into two! So, if you haven’t already – go read Part 1!

Photographer Cristina Mittermeier dedicates her life to creating images that help us understand the urgent need to protect wild places. Born in Mexico, Cristina first discovered her insatiable passion for the natural world, both above and below the surface, as a marine biologist working in the Gulf of California and Yucátan Peninsula. Specializing in conservation issues surrounding the ocean and indigenous cultures, Mittermeier has worked in more than 100 countries on every continent in the world.

Cristina Mittermeier

Sebastião Salgado is a renowned documentary photographer and photojournalist with a deep love and respect for nature while also sensitive to the socio-economic conditions that impact human beings. He has traveled to over 120 countries for his projects. He is perhaps most known for his long-term social documentary projects. Among them: Migrations (2000), a tribute to mass migration driven by hunger, natural disasters, environmental disaster and population explosion.

Sebastião Salgado

Dr Judith Nangala Crispin is a poet and visual artist and a proud descendent of the Bpangerang people. She uses photographic technologies in unexpected ways to explore her connection to Country.

Judith takes a micro approach to enviro-photography. Rather than attempting to capture “the whole picture” of the climate crisis, Judith captures the seemingly insignificant in an attempt to make the climate crisis unnervingly intimate.

“[I] devote my practice to elevating the importance of the small casualties of human ecocide. If we can begin to see the life of a finch as having the same importance as the life of a Prime Minister or celebrity, then we will pay more attention to the environments we destroy.”

Read more here

Judith Nangala Crispin

Sydney-based multi-award-winning photographer Chris Round primarily investigates our ever-changing relationship with our 21st-century environment, documenting landscapes and exploring ideas of place. Chris Round’s series The grand scheme deals with the Snowy Hydro Scheme. It is the most ambitious hydroelectric project in Australian history, often called a world wonder.

Chris Round

Frank Hurley was an Australian photographer and adventurer known for his pioneering work documenting several famous expeditions, most notably his collaboration with Sir Ernest Shackleton on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917. Despite facing extreme conditions, Hurley’s photographs captured the harsh beauty and relentless challenges of the Antarctic environment, showcasing his mastery of composition and technical skill. His iconic images, such as the hauntingly preserved shipwrecked “Endurance” and the stark icy landscapes, continue to inspire awe and fascination.

Frank Hurley

Australian photographer Murray Fredericks through his landscape photography creates spiritually minded encounters with the hyper-real. Capturing the climate crisis is not the meaning of Murray’s work, it’s the context. To capture a landscape without considering climate change is to disconnect the natural world from its fundamental condition.

“I’m not a documentary photographer. I think those people fulfil probably the most important role in this area, but as an art Photographer – it’s got to be more than just recording. What I do is a long-term body of work, a different type of contemplation.”

Murray doesn’t make climate change visible; he underscores its invisibility through prolonged attention to the natural world, pushing us to consider how enormous its impacts are.

Read more here

Murray Fredericks

Ansel Adams is widely regarded as one of the greatest landscape photographers of all time. His black–and–white photographs of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, are instantly recognisable and have gone a long way in shaping how we see and talk about landscape photography today. His ability to create compositions that simultaneously focused on abstract details while still capturing the wide branching majesty of sweeping landscapes taught us how to re-see our environments through new eyes.

Ansel Adams

Tasmania based, self-taught, and travel-hungry Hoelen has lived a diverse career over his two decades as an image-maker with a consistent focus on humanitarian and conservation-based projects.

Paul Hoelen

Born in Warsaw, New York, in 1969, Justine Kurland is a prolific photographer that uses varying environments as an insightful mirror into developing adolescence. Her series Girl Pictures, captures teenagers in different environments, playing, exploring, destroying, and growing. Her images are not only a lyrical testament to how young girls find themselves in nature and learn things they simply could not elsewhere, her images also cast a critical lens on the value of untouched wilderness and how our treatment of nature is directly linked to the legacy of our children.

Justine Kurland

Edward Burtynsky explores landscapes that have been transformed by human enterprise, what he calls the “indelible human signature” on the planet. Burtynsky’s large-scale aerial photographs reference the often surreal qualities of human-altered landscapes. Chronicling the major themes of terraforming and extraction, urbanisation and deforestation, Burtynsky conveys the unsettling reality of sweeping resource depletion and extinction. 

Edward Burtynsky

Ami Vitale is an American photojournalist, documentary filmmaker, educator and speaker. She is well-known for her 2018 photo book titled Panda Love which captures pandas within captivity and being released into the wild and the people who go to extroadinary lengths to care for them- dawning Panda-onesies to put the creatures at ease.

Ami Vitale

Want to get back to nature? Enter the Head On Environmental Awards!


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Head On Photo Awards 2024

Entries to the Head On Photo Awards 2024 are open now. $80,000 prize pool including finalists exhibition.

Image detail: Gary Ramage