Nature and conservation: how Nature inFocus Photography Awards 2020 moved entirely online

In our two-part photo essay on this outstanding annual competition, we feature winners and finalists, along with curator insights.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory Media, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 495 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

The Nature inFocus Photography Awards 2020 were recently announced entirely online. The awards honour photographers who document unique natural history moments and critical conservation issues. This year would have marked the seventh edition of the accompanying Nature and Wildlife Festival (see our earlier photo essays on the 2019, 2018 and 2017 editions).

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the awards were celebrated recently at a live virtual event. Nature inFocus founders Rohit Varma and Kalyan Varma hope that the pandemic has been a stark wake-up call to humankind to stop messing with the environment and do everything possible to conserve it.


A five-member jury, along with curator Kalyan Varma, presented the winning images live on YouTube. Submissions for this year’s awards closed on May 31. Around 14,000 images were submitted from more than 1,600 competing photographers. Entries came from India as well as Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and UK.

Photographer: Magnus Lundgren

Yashpal Rathore won the top honour for his shot of a bat frozen in flight against the urban sprawl of Bengaluru. The image won the top prize in the category Wildscape and Animals in Habitat.


Swedish photographer Magnus Lundgren won a Special Jury Award. Other winners were Sitara Karthikeyan (Young Photographer), Ganesh Chowdhury (Animal Portraits), Nayan Jyoti Das (Creative Nature Photography), and Srikanth Mannepuri (Conservation Issues). With permission from Nature inFocus, PhotoSparks has reproduced some of the finalist and winner images in this article (see description of all winners here).


Category winners are awarded a cash prize of Rs 50,000, while category runners-up get a cash prize of Rs 25,000 and second runners-up get Rs 10,000. The Photographer of the Year wins an additional cash prize of Rs 50,000.

The 2020 jury comprised of wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee, conservation scientist Divya Mudappa, senior journalist Prem Panicker, wildlife photographer Jayanth Sharma, and biologist and photographer Tasneem Khan.

Nature inFocus co-founder Rohit Varma was born and raised in Balaghat, a small town bordering Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. He spent 15 years at AMD, SanDisk, and CyberMedia, and then switched from the corporate world to his passion for wildlife and photography.

Co-founder Kalyan Varma is an award-winning wildlife photographer, filmmaker, naturalist, and explorer. Over the last 12 years, his works have been featured by BBC, National Geographic, Nature, The Guardian, GEO, Smithsonian, and Lonely Planet.

Launched in 2014, past editions of the conference have featured photographers, filmmakers, biologists, historians, photographers, and ecologists from across the globe, discussing nature, wildlife, and conservation.

In Part II of this photo essay, Rohit Varma joins us in a chat on trends in nature photography, challenges and opportunities in moving the event online, and the continuing urgency of nature conservation.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and contribute to nature conservation?

Photographer: Philip Thomas

Photographer: Sriram Reddy

Photographer: Sumit Adhikary

Photographer: Chaitanya Rawat

Photographer: Amith Kiran Menezes

Photographer: Rupak Ghosh Dastidar

Photographer: Santhosh Krishnamoorthy

Photographer: Abhijit Sinha

Photographer: Soumabrata Moulick

Photographer: Anupam Koley

Photographer: Srikanth Mannepuri

Photographer: Ashish Dalela

Photographer: Digant Desai

Photographer: Ripan Biswas

Photographer: Srikanth Mannepuri

Photographer: Mohit Nagarwal

Photographer: Yashpal Rathore

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Appleand Android devices.