The Prix Pictet is judged by an internationally recognised panel of experts led by Sir David King, Director, Smith School of Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford and former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government.
The Prix Pictet is a search for photographs that communicate important messages about global environmental issues under a broad theme. Entry to the Prix Pictet is by nomination. The nominators 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 the series of images that have the power and artistic quality demanded by the Prix. Each nominator is invited to propose up to five photographers.
Each nominated candidate is 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. Photographs submitted must be made after 2003. 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 reviews the work online before presenting a proposed shortlist 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 of the award. No distinction is made between artistic merit and success in communicating the message. Where a distinction is drawn, 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 nominated photographers than is possible in the shortlisting process.
Although the judges look for photographic excellence, no preference is given to any particular kind of photographic material, technique or creative route, nor are any of these excluded from consideration. An artist using photographs, for example, is judged by precisely the same criteria as a photojournalist or a commercial photographer, or a professional in another field for whom photography may be no more than one of many tools.
Following the judges’ selection of the shortlist, the artists concerned are contacted by the Secretariat and invited to submit their work for the shortlist exhibition. At that point each artist is sent a full set of terms and conditions covering their engagement with the Prix Pictet. Each shortlisted artist will be able to apply for a production and travel grant of up to USD 5000.
In arriving at their final decision on the award, the judges make no distinction between photographs of different genres, nor do they assume different potential types of audience for any class of photograph.
Following an assessment of the work in a gallery setting, the Jury select the winner of the Prix Pictet who will receive the prize of CHF100,000. The name of the winning photographer is announced at a ceremony at the opening of the finalists’ exhibition.
In response to considerable public demand, the Prix Pictet shortlist exhibition tours globally following the finalists’ exhibition.