The Syngenta Photography Award 2012

The Open Competition is open to any photographer aged 18 or over – whether amateur, professional, or student. The Syngenta Photography Award is an invitation to create images that make people stop and think.

We anticipate a wide range of creative responses to the rural-urban theme – from hard hitting photojournalism to fine art photography. The most important requirement is that your images tell powerful stories.

For example, perhaps there is something in your own rural community that calls to mind the impact of the city. Or maybe you live in a city and want to explore its dependence on the rural environment. You could look at the differences between rural and urban environments, or where they converge – literally or symbolically.

Whatever your interpretation, you have the chance to connect people to something you feel strongly about. To make something that is personal for you, personal for others too.

Celebrating excellence

All entries will be evaluated by a distinguished international panel. Entrant details will remain anonymous to the jury. This is a chance four your images to speak to themselves. The jury members will award three prizes in the Open Competition:

  • 1st prize: US$5,000
  • 2nd prize: US$3,000
  • 3rd prize: US$2,000

Winning photographers will have their work featured in the International Herald Tribune and New York Times, as well as showcased at an exhibition and symposium in London.


The 2012/2013 theme of the Syngenta Photography Award explores the relationship and tensions between rural and urban environments:

  • Over half of the world’s population now lives in urban spaces.
  • Yet rural areas provide the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat.
  • With competition for land, natural resources and labor increasing, balancing these tensions is critical.

At the turn of the 20th century the rural population outnumbered the urban by 7 to 1*. Since then, there has been rapid urbanization and in 2007 the world’s urban population crossed a watershed and exceeded the rural. The UN estimates that by 2050, over 6 billion people, two thirds of humanity, will be living in cities**.

How will these changes affect individuals and the communities they live in? What are the changing roles that people play in this shifting landscape? What are the pressures on natural resources? Is this relationship symbiotic or in competition and do the environmental constraints of water shortage and limited fertile land forever put into question the rural-urban dynamic?

As urban dwellers get further away from where their food is grown, do they lose sight of how sustainable farming operates? Is a city dweller’s relationship with food consistent with his or her rural counterpart? If not, are unrealistic demands being placed on the rural food producers?

How will this ever changing landscape impact overall global food security?

The cities need water for people to drink and to support sanitary services. Rural areas need water to grow crops to feed the expanding cities. Is there enough for both? What role will technology play? What role will society allow technology to play?

In developed countries, cheap and abundant food has been a given. Do urban dwellers really understand where their food comes from, do they care?

The Syngenta Photography Award invites all artists and photographers to interpret these questions and their own concerning these issues in the broadest sense to stimulate dialogue about our changing planet through photography.

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