The Prix Pictet maintains a worldwide network of over 300 nominators who are briefed on the theme for each cycle. 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. In 2018, the portfolios of over 600 photographers were nominated, amounting to over 4,800 images in total.
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 2005. All submissions are made online in a private artists’ portal of the Prix Pictet website.
An independent panel of judges (the jury), led by Sir David King since 2010, reviews all submissions. The jury is charged with identifying photographic series of the highest artistic quality that presented a compelling narrative relating to the given theme. They are required to make no distinction between photography of different genres. In the search for images, neither the subject matter nor the technique used to produce the image is tightly defined. 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.
At their first meeting, the jury arrives at a shortlist of 12 artists, whose work confronts the critical issue of global sustainability through photography of high artistic quality and compelling content. 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.
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 this stage, 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.
The overall winner is chosen at a second jury meeting, held by tradition on the eve of the first exhibition of shortlisted artists. The name of the winning photographer is announced at a ceremony at the opening of the finalists’ exhibition. The winning photographer receives the prize of 100,000 Swiss francs.
In response to considerable public demand, the Prix Pictet shortlist exhibition tours globally for approximately 16 months following the finalists’ exhibition.