Last year people from 196 countries and territories participated in TNC's photo contest. Here are some favorites.

Spring 2023 Issue

Ghost Mushrooms Nicknamed ghost mushrooms due to its eerie green glow, the scientific names of these bioluminescent mushrooms are Omphalotus Nidiformis. © Callie Chee/TNC Photo Contest

In 2022, photographers from 196 countries and territories submitted more than 100,000 pictures to The Nature Conservancy’s global photo contest. Here are some of our favorite images from around the world.

Learn about future photo contests and see other winning images at

An elephant head, trunk and tusk is seen in profile amid a dust cloud that glows a soft yellow-brown.
Second Place, Wildlife Category In Namibia, an African bush elephant kicks up dust. © Panos Laskarakis/TNC Photo Contest
A mother and juvenile polar bear are seen in snow with factory-like infrastructure in background.
2022 Global Photo Contest A female polar bear breastfeeding her two cubs of the year in the harbour of the abandoned Russian settlement, Pyramiden. © Florian Ledoux/TNC Photo Contest 2022

Quote: Celebrity Judge Coyote Peterson

“The composition of this photo and its color balance are absolutely beautiful. The eye is drawn to these elements first, and then you realize the center point is the mother polar bear and her cubs."

A hillside of green-brown grass is seen from afar, dotted with dozens of white-tipped trees with a dark sky behind.
First Place, Landscape Category For just a few moments, a fog clears on the slopes of Mount Adi north of Navarre, Spain, revealing a forest covered in rime ice. © Francisco Javier Munuera González/TNC Photo Contest
Two lions with full manes rub against each other while walking toward the camera, seen in black and white.
First Place, Wildlife Category As the sun rises in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, two lions stand together—a young male and an older companion, Morani. One of a group of lions known locally as the Four Musketeers, Morani is the oldest known lion in the reserve and the last surviving "musketeer." © Anup Shah/TNC Photo Contest
In black and white, 2 giraffes stretch their necks against each other in an arc.
Honorable Mention, Wildlife Category In South Africa, two bull giraffes (above) angle for dominance by “necking”—a form of fighting in which giraffes beat each other with their own heads. Often the giraffe with the longer and thicker neck wins the scuffle and is more likely to breed and pass on its genetic traits. © Torie Hilley/TNC Photo Contest
A landscape is seen with yellow grass on black sand in the foreground and snowy white-capped mountains in the background.
Honorable Mention, Landscape Category On the southeastern coast of Iceland, the mountain Vestrahorn rises above the black sand dunes and yellow grasses of Stokksnes beach. © Ivan Pedretti/TNC Photo Contest
Seen from above, four ponds of black liquid with white foam ripple outward.
Honorable Mention, Climate Category Wastewater ponds north of Eugene, Oregon, used in the making of paper are seen from the air. © Jassen Todorov/TNC Photo Contest
A forest of green trees stretches toward the horizon with a stretch of tree-less brown ground seen cutting through the forest toward the horizon. Two people can be seen in the distance.
Honorable Mention, People & Nature What first may appear to be a field is, on closer inspection, revealed to be a forest. This well-preserved jungle located on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico was partially clear-cut to make space for the construction of a railway. © Francesca Franchini/TNC Photo Contest
Two people in shorts and t-shirts, carrying towels, stand on brown sand against a concrete wall as the red-and-white smokestacks of a factory are seen in the distance.
First Place, People and Nature Category A factory encroaches on a coast in Greece. The beachgoers in the image are facing the sea. The scene, says photographer Jurek, was “very symbolic for me. Industry pushes people off the ground. It pushes more and more.” © Janusz Jurek/TNC Photo Contest
A leopard is seen close up in profile with a limp animal hanging from its mouth and a young monkey clinging to the limp animal, facing the camera.
Guest Judge Ami Vitale’s Choice Nature can be brutal and unforgiving. In South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, a leopard carries a dead female vervet monkey in its jaws. The monkey’s baby—still alive—clings to its mother. © Shafeeq Mulla/TNC Photo Contest

Quote: Guest Judge Ami Vitale

“It is a brutal and uncomfortable image and part of me wishes I never had seen it, but this is nature. It is a tremendously difficult photo to look at, but it is also powerful and it still haunts me today."

Two jackals bare their teeth at each other as a third watches and multiple black birds are seen flying or landing nearby.
Honorable Mention, Wildlife Category Two golden jackals challenge each other over food in Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, India. © Baiju Patil/TNC Photo Contest
Against a deep blue sky, 2 silhouetted deer move through a forest, with black silhouettes of trees stretching high up through the image.
Honorable Mention, Wildlife Category Two deer are seen at dawn—one standing still as the other moves through a forest. © Tibor Litauszki/TNC Photo Contest
Nestled amid the giant roots of a tree in a dark almost-black image, several flower-like mushrooms grow a psychedelic green.
First Place, Plants and Fungi Category The bioluminescent "ghost fungus," or omphalotus nidiformus, grows and glows for only a few weeks each year in certain forests in Australia—making it difficult to find and to photograph. © Callie Chee/TNC Photo Contest
Against the background of a silhouetted forest of black trees, dozens of yellow splotches glow in varying degrees of focus.
Honorable Mention, Wildlife Category Small fireflies known as “himebotaru” flash in the forests of Tottori, Japan. This photo is not a composite image. It was taken with a single shutter and a 60-second exposure. © Masahiro Hiroike/TNC Photo Contest
A small yellow and bright sapphire blue lizard stands on a rock in the foreground with black rocks, yellow grasses and several wind turbines in the background.
First Place, Climate Category In one of the winning images from TNC’s 2022 Global Photo Contest, a fan-throated lizard guards its territory at a wind farm in India. Researchers have hypothesized that the windmills are scaring off the lizard’s natural predators, and in response the animal’s coloring has brightened. © Sandesh Kadur/TNC Photo Contest