Hide and Seek wins Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition in 2018

Hide and Seek by Tracey Jennings


A mesmerising image of a school of fish fleeing from predators has won the 2018 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, which is produced by the South Australian Museum. ‘Hide and Seek’ by Malaysia-based Tracey Jennings captured the exact moment the chase began.

Ms Jennings took the winning photograph underneath Arborek Jetty in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

“I’d seen images on social media previously shot under this jetty which inspired me to travel to Raja Ampat. I dived the site over several days; land based and then again a week or so later on a liveaboard trip,” said Ms Jennings.

“I spent about 6 hours in total at a depth of less than 5m under the single relatively small jetty, only leaving when I finished my second air tank, way after sunset,” she said.

“This picture actually lay unloved on my hard drive for almost a year. When I did finally go through my images, this one jumped out at me. I love how the light plays through the fish, and how it really describes the essence of the feeling I experienced when below the jetty where life and death plays around you,”

Ms Jennings is the first individual woman to win the Australia Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition. Her prize is $10,000 plus a holiday prize.

“It’s such a great honour to be named this year’s Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. It’s such an important opportunity to showcase the beauty of our oceans to all people who visit this exhibition,” she said.

“I am so proud to be the first woman recognised as the winner of this competition. I first started taking photographs 5 years ago, entering my first Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition in 2015 where one of my first ever underwater photographs was a finalist in the monochrome category. I always enter this fantastic competition,” she said.


The 2018 competition judges are:

  • David Evans - an Australian Master of Photography who creates work of high fidelity, depth and substance. He has won many titles including the AIPP Australian Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2015, and South Australian Professional Photographer of the Year in 2006 and 2009.
  • Peter Eastway - an Australian photographer known internationally for his landscape photography. He has been involved in photographic magazine publishing for over 30 years, establishing his own title, Australia's Better Photography Magazine, in 1995.
  • Stanley Breeden - recognised as one of Australia’s pioneering nature photographers and writers having authored some 20 natural history books, and he has been published in the world’s leading natural history magazines.


Together these highly respected judges described Ms Jennings intriguing photograph as “Having a huge amount of energy with a rich cacophony of shapes and an explosion of tonality. Removing colour from the image allows us to focus on the subject. The vortex of fish draws us in and makes us want to be there, to take up underwater photography so we can experience the situation. A great shot with significant wow factor.”

Mr Brian Oldman, Director of the South Australian Museum, said that Ms. Jennings photograph had been judged the winning entry among 2,288 photographs.

“The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition continues to grow, with 2018 seeing a record number of entries,” Mr Oldman said.

“We’re proud to produce such an exciting exhibition with each image highlighting the role museums play in educating people about nature,” he said.

“We’ve had another record breaking year with over 800,000 people through the door and it’s much loved exhibitions like Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year that continue to contribute to our success,” he said.

Chrissie Goldrick, Editor-in-Chief, Australian Geographic said the breadth of subject matter on show in this years’ Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year shows what a unique and diverse part of the world we live in.

“These winning photographers help us all to appreciate that more fully through their talent and dedication,” Ms Goldrick said.

The winners and runners-up of the ten categories have also been announced.

Animal Portrait

Winner: The northern leaf-tailed gecko, Northern leaf-tailed gecko (Saltuarius cornutus), Igor Mikula (Slovakia)

Runner-up: Luminous, Bluebottle (Physalia utriculus), Matty Smith (NSW)

Animal Behaviour

Winner: Posing black-fronted dotterels, Black-fronted dotterel (Elseyornis melanops), Dan Giselsson (QLD)

Runner-up: Play fighting, Western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus), Georgina Steytler (WA)

Animal Habitat

Winner: Enchanted, White’s Seahorse (Hippocampus whitei), Matty Smith (NSW)

Runner-up: Dune run, Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), Josh Tagi (VIC)


Winner: The refuge, Red mangroves (Rhizophora stylosa), Andy Lewis (QLD)

Runner-up: Pandani in blizzard, Pandani (Richea pandanifolia), Raoul Slater (QLD)


Winner: Early elation, Dylan Fox (WA)

Runner-up: Broken dreams, Ben Goode (SA)


Winner: Junction falls - after, Peter Hill (NSW) 

Runner-up: Light dappled billabong, Richard Wylie (QLD) 

Junior (photographers under 18 years of age)

Winner: Running Wombat, Common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), Floyd Mallon (NSW) aged 16

Runner-up: Hell’s gate, Fionn Holyoak-Roberts (WA) aged 16

Our Impact (depicting human impact on nature)

Winner: Left Behind, Kangaroo (Macropus sp.), Ben Goode (SA)

Runner-up: City Slicker, White’s seahorse (Hippocampus whitei), Justin Gilligan (NSW)

Threatened Species (threatened, rare, vulnerable or endangered species)

Winner: Maybe 2 in a 1000, Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Matty Smith (NSW)

Runner-up: Turtle Reflection, Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Johnny Gaskell (QLD)

Portfolio Prize (best portfolio of size or more images)

Winner: Matty Smith (NSW)


The South Australian Museum is hosting a public exhibition featuring all of the finalists from 24 August to 18 November 2018, and for the third year running the Australian Museum will hold the same exhibition from 24 August to 28 January 2019.


New partnership announced for Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition

Image: Broken Dreams by Ben Goode


The South Australian Museum, Australian Museum and Australian Geographic are delighted to welcome cruise line company Coral Expeditions as the Presenting Partner for the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Produced by the South Australian Museum, this breathtaking exhibition celebrates the beauty of the natural world through stunning images by professional, emerging and junior photographers who have shown impeccable timing, patience, artistry and technique to capture incredible moments in time.  

Mr Brian Oldman, Director of the South Australian Museum, says he is thrilled to have Coral Expeditions on board as the Presenting Partner for the next two years. “Both Coral Expeditions and Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year aim to educate, connect and inspire people about nature and the world around us. It is a fitting collaboration between two organisations striving toward the same goal,” Mr Oldman said.

“It is energising to see the impact that nature photography is having throughout the world.” Director and CEO, Australian Museum, Kim McKay AO said. “The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition is a good example of how the arts and science can provoke a renewed awareness about our environment. We are extremely grateful to Coral Expeditions for their support and look forward to working with them to communicate the fragility and beauty of our precious flora and fauna.”

Each year around 2,200 photographs are received in the competition across nine different categories that celebrate the natural heritage of the Australian, New Zealand, Antarctica and New Guinea bioregions.

Coral Expeditions is the Australian pioneer of small ship expedition cruising with over three decades of experience exploring the Great Barrier Reef, the Kimberley Coast, Cape York and Arnhem Land, Tasmania’s Wilderness Coast, Papua New Guinea and beyond.

“As we move into our 35th year, we are poised to enter a new era for our company with the arrival of our 4th expedition vessel, the Coral Adventurer, which will set sail on her maiden voyage in April 2019. These are exciting times and we are thrilled with the opportunity to work closely with the South Australian Museum, Australian Museum and Australian Geographic and be a part of the annual Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition,” said Mr Jeff Gillies, Commercial Director, Coral Expeditions.

“Our company has strong roots set in embracing the spirit of nature conservancy and respect. The expedition experience is all about discovery, and there is a very special connection that is made in those personal moments in which nature chooses to reveal.

We have a great respect and admiration for nature photographers and their ability and commitment to capture these moments to share, educate and inspire us all. Our strong desire is to help promote and strengthen the connection between humans and the wonders of our natural world well into the future,” said Mr Gillies.

As Principal Sponsor of the competition, Australian Geographic are pleased to be working closely with Coral Expeditions.

“As one of Australia’s biggest small ship cruising companies they are perfect partners, enabling first hand access to some of our region’s most beautiful and remote locations’, said Ms Jo Runciman, Managing Director, Australian Geographic Holdings.

“Australian Geographic is incredibly proud of our association with the Australian Geographic Nature Photography Competition. Our partnership with the South Australian Museum has seen the competition go from strength to strength. This exhibition is a celebration of the unique wildlife and biodiversity of our region. We hope that all visitors to the exhibition will come away with a feeling of pride and greater connection to the beauty of our corner of the world,” said Ms Runciman.

The finalists of the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition will be on display at the South Australian Museum from 24 August 2018 to 18 November 2018 and the Australian Museum from 24 August 2018 to 27 January 2019. The winners will be announced on Thursday 23 August 2018 at 7pm.

Coral Expeditions joins other exhibition partners including Principal Sponsor, Australian Geographic; Production Partner, Atkins; and Media Partner, The Adelaide Review.


Media contact:

Ashleigh Glynn (nee Sambrooks)

Communications Officer

South Australian Museum

0466 389 019 or ashleigh.glynn@samuseum.sa.gov.au