New exhibit and book Seeing It All: Women Photographers Expose our Planet vividly capture why ‘saving nature is saving ourselves’
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (September 19, 2023)—A 12-day-old orphaned Chinese pangolin curled into a tiny ball sleeps in the white-gloved hand of her keeper. A juvenile western lowland gorilla, still drowsy from anesthetic after a vet visit, clings affectionately to her caretaker in the backseat of a car. Row upon row of taxidermied tiger, leopard, and other big cat heads baring their teeth—confiscated trophy skins—line metal shelves at the National Wildlife Property Repository in Colorado.
These are just a small sample of the evocative photos in a new book, Seeing It All: Women Photographers Expose our Planet, published by the California Academy of Sciences to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its BigPicture photography exhibition, which opens Oct. 7.
During the past decade, BigPicture has emerged as one of the world’s most acclaimed photo competitions, drawing in renowned wildlife and conservation photographers to submit their most awe-inspiring photos from every corner of the planet. The Academy then showcases the winners in a BigPicture exhibit that opens every October. This year’s grand prize winner, “Cities Gone Wild” by Corey Arnold from White Salmon, Washington, documents the ways that three species—coyotes, raccoons, and black bears—are learning to not only survive but thrive alongside humans in the face of increasing urbanization. Arnold spent several years working with local residents, scientists, and land managers to track the animals and perfectly place camera traps to capture the unique ways they are adapting to their ever-changing environment.
Arnold’s winning photo story was selected from more than 7,300 submissions from photographers representing 58 countries.
“BigPicture has been showcasing provocative stories from around the world for 10 years, and the need for images like these to raise awareness about biodiversity loss, conservation gains, climate change, and humanity's relationship—for better or worse—to our non-human relatives is becoming ever more urgent,” said Rhonda Rubinstein, co-founder of BigPicture and creative director at the Academy.
Seeing It All book features BigPicture Winners and Jurors
Coinciding with the opening of the 10th annual BigPicture exhibition, the Academy has published its second wildlife photography book, titled Seeing It All: Women Photographers Expose our Planet. In the book, 11 visionary female photographers showcase rarely seen locations to present over 125 dramatic images that illustrate the extraordinary complexity of the natural world and challenge our relationships to and perceptions of it. All of the photographers featured in the book have been either BigPicture competition winners or jurors.
These daring women use photography to expose how we—humans, animals, nature—are living together in these precipitous times. Each photographer is presented in a short artist profile that includes behind-the scenes insights and a concise manifesto about what drives their photography.
Curated by Rubinstein along with photo editing by Academy senior photographer Gayle Laird, the book also includes a foreword by oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle and essays by renowned writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit and neuroscientist, writer, and stage director Indre Viskontas. Seeing It All is currently available for preorder on Amazon and will be available for purchase at the Academy store when the exhibit opens Oct. 7.
Changing how we see the natural world
Since launching in 2014, BigPicture has received roughly 64,000 submissions and awarded $120,000 in cash prizes for more than 80 winning images. Photo categories include Terrestrial Wildlife, Winged Life, Landscapes, Waterscapes & Flora, Aquatic Life, Art of Nature, and Human/Nature.
Each year, the winning images are seen by millions of people across the globe after they are first published in bioGraphic, the Academy’s independent online magazine about nature and regeneration and the official media sponsor for the BigPicture competition. The competition is frequently recognized by top photography and design websites and outlets such as My Modern Met and Pixpa.
“As a photographer, I often ask myself, ‘How do these pictures that I’m creating really meet the moment that we’re in?’” said photographer and BigPicture jury panelist Ami Vitale in the competition’s 10th Anniversary video. “Considering biodiversity loss, climate change, all of the rapidly changing things happening in our world right now, it is so critically important that these images included in BigPicture circulate widely, because they have the capacity to change how people see the natural world and really start rethinking their relationship to it.”
Vitale added, “I hope that through these images all of us really start to see how we are such a part of nature. We’re not separate from it at all. Saving nature is really about saving ourselves.”
BigPicture and Seeing It All Events
October 5: BigPicture NightLife: The Art of Nature
6:30 pm and 7:30 pm
Neuroscientist Indre Viskontas will lead an animated journey through this years’ winning BigPicture images during a one-of-its-kind planetarium show experience. She will be joined by Suzi Eszterhas, BigPicture jury chair, and 2023 Grand Prize winner Corey Arnold to explore how BigPicture imagery affects us, our minds, and the world at large—all with a live musical accompaniment by Fire and Grace. The BigPicture exhibition will also be open for NightLife visitors.
8 pm to 9:30 pm
Media are invited to attend a private 10th Anniversary BigPicture Celebration showcasing the new book Seeing It All. Send requests to email@example.com.
October 6: BigPicture Member Talk: Galápagos Up Close
2:30 pm to 3:30 pm
Join renowned wildlife photographer, writer, and foremost expert in Galápagos Islands natural history Tui De Roy in an exciting conversation with Dr. Shannon Bennett, Chief of Science and Research Collections at the Academy. Together, they’ll offer an exclusive glimpse into the Galápagos through an exploration of rarely seen photographs taken by De Roy, as well as insights into the Academy’s longstanding connection to the island—including holding the world's largest collection of scientific specimens from the Galápagos.
Media are invited to attend this member talk; send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BigPicture photography exhibition opens.
Assets for Press:
- 2023 BigPicture award winners, as announced in bioGraphic. Please note: Photos and captions from the bioGraphic gallery are available upon request to any interested media outlets for syndication.
- Digital copies of the new book, Seeing It All: Women Photographers Expose our Planet, are available upon request.
- New video about BigPicture: https://youtu.be/hCBb-ugbUyc
- Interviews are available, and all requests should be sent to Ronna Kelly, email@example.com.
The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.