Prix Pictet Curates Photography With Sustainability Message

Pictet Prize sets out to find photographs that communicate global environmental issues

Entry to the Prix Pictet is by nomination. The nominators for the Prix Pictet are a group of leading experts in the visual arts, including directors and curators of major museums and galleries as well as journalists and critics. They lead the search for a series of images that have the power and artistic quality demanded by the Prix. Each nominator is invited to propose a maximum of five photographers.

Photographers not nominated, but wishing to submit their work for consideration, are invited to contact the Prix Pictet Secretariat via In such cases the Secretariat will confer with the Prix’s photography advisors prior to submitting the work to the full Jury for consideration.

Launched in 2008 by the Geneva-based private bank Pictet & Cie, the Prix Pictet has rapidly established itself as the world’s leading prize in photography and sustainability. It has a unique mandate – to use the power of photography to communicate vital messages to a global audience. The goal is to uncover art of the highest order, applied to confront the pressing social and environmental challenges of the new millennium.

The prize currently plays to a global audience of over 400 million. The exhibitions of photographs shortlisted for the three cycles of the Prix Pictet have toured the world, so far they have been shown in Berlin, Bonn, Dresden, Dubai, Dublin, Eindhoven, Geneva,  Paris, Hong Kong, Lausanne, London, Madrid,  Milan, Moscow, New Delhi and Thessaloniki.

As Kofi Annan, the Prix Pictet’s Honorary President, wrote in his foreword to Growth – the book of the third Prix Pictet, ‘This collection of extraordinary photographs shows us why a new economic model is needed – one that is global, inclusive, cooperative, environmentally aware and science-based.’

The Prix Pictet has two elements: the prize of CHF 100,000 awarded to the photographer who, in the opinion of the independent jury, has produced a series of work that speaks most powerfully to the theme of the award; and the Commission, awarded by the Partners of Pictet & Cie, in which a shortlisted  photographer is invited to undertake a field trip to a region where the Bank is supporting a sustainability project.

Each year the award is centered on a distinct theme, the inaugural theme was Water, followed by Earth and Growth. The fourth theme of the Prix will be Power. Power as a theme has enormous breadth, embracing contradiction and paradox in equal measure. As a theme it is positive and negative. In short,  ‘Power’ has the potential to uncover images and issues that are both awe-inspiring and disturbing.

All nominated candidates are asked to provide a series of pictures coherently defined and focused on the theme of the award and limited to no more than ten images. All submissions are made online in a private artists’ zone on the Prix Pictet website. Once the submission process has been completed, the independent Prix Pictet Jury considers the work initially online and then at a judges conference. The Jury look for the photographs that they believe would have the greatest impact on public awareness of issues surrounding sustainability and the theme.

In the search for images, neither the subject matter nor the technique used to produce the image is tightly defined. The judges are looking for original contributions which, in their opinion, make best use of the resources of photography to communicate the issues concerning the topic for the year. No distinction is made between artistic merit and success in communicating the message. Where a distinction is made, a choice will be made between individual images and groups of telling images arranged as a series. Ultimately, artists submitting images grouped within a coherent series will be at an advantage. In shortlisting a limited number of photographers, inevitably some outstanding images will be excluded. To accompany each cycle of the award a book is published by teNeues. This publication offers a more wide-ranging insight into the work of the shortlisted photographers than is possible in the shortlisting process.

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