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Physical geography student photo competition

Patricia Hao's second prize image from 2021

Photo by Patricia Hao from West Island School, Hong Kong, who won second prize in the 2021 competition (14-18 age category) with ‘Terraces at the Mammoth Hot Springs’. This photograph is of Yellowstone National Park which sits above a hotspot.

Physical geography student competition 2023

Following the success of previous competitions, the Physical Geography Student Photo Competition returned for an eighth year with a new sponsor, the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG).

Please note entries closed on 30 September 2023. The results are available to view here.


The theme of the competition was ‘Mobile Earth’.

The Earth is a flowing machine with earth materials constantly on the move from one place to another. This is just as true for the sky and the sea as it is for the land. Earth mobility happens on a range of scales, from a massive landslide (a mass movement) to tiny particles one by one (soil creep and suspended sediment); and from happening in an instant to movement that takes an almost unimaginable time (plate movement). 

In geography lessons you will have learned a lot about the mobile Earth when studying erosion (which is the removal of material), but you will also have studied movement in the atmosphere (e.g. water cycle) and perhaps the oceans too (e.g. ocean currents). Now you will realise why the Earth is a flowing machine!

This year’s competition was about finding and taking a photo that captures an example that demonstrates the mobile Earth and the Earth as a flowing machine. The winning images needed to show or convey movement of Earth material(s), or a landform or feature produced by materials movement, or evidence of a process or an agent that causes movement of Earth materials

The photographs needed to be accompanied with its (precise) location and up to 250 words that ‘show and tell’ the physical geography, describing the focus your example and explaining what it reveals and/or demonstrates about the mobile Earth, and how the movement happened.


  • plant or tree roots causing upheaved soil or kerbstones 
  • rock folds/rock faults (tectonic movements)
  • river load or sediment
  • mud deposits
  • beach
  • glacial moraine, till or scree
  • sand dune
  • soil creep
  • slope collapse
  • landslips
  • landslides
  • slope with rocky boulders
  • rock face with sedimentary structures (e.g. fossilised dunes) 
  • clouds
  • … and many more.

Physical geography and evidence of our mobile Earth can be found in many different places.

If you need inspiration then look at the list above and the example entries below to give you pointers to the sort of features that you might find interesting to photograph, describe and explain to show the mobile Earth.

Anyone can take photos  – here are a few tips to help you capture the image you want:

  1. Photos tend to be better composed in landscape orientation.
  2. Clean the lens. Over time the lens can collect dust, which can make your photos blurred – just wipe it with a clean (dry) cloth.
  3. Lighting can ‘make or break’ a photo, so consider the weather and the time of day to make sure your feature can be seen or is highlighted by the conditions.
  4. Consider the framing of your photo, i.e. everything that is in it. Try to avoid having the focus of your photo in the middle (Google search ‘rule of thirds’).
  5. Pay attention to a horizon or background line and try to keep your photo level and straight.
  6. Look high and low, big and small, close and far for your ideas.

Do a little research on the feature in your photo so you can be reasonably confident in describing its physical geography accurately.

The judges will not necessarily be expecting a ‘perfect’ entry, but they will be looking for balance of an interesting, well-composed photograph and a description that shows you recognise your subject and outlines how it relates to our mobile Earth. 

Example entry: I’m still standing

Example entry: Shifted from Shap

We hope you have fun discovering exciting evidence of our mobile Earth!

Entry information and forms

The competition prizes were:

  • 1st Prize – Paramo Windproof Bentu Jacket
  • 2nd Prize – Paramo Fuero Smock
  • 3rd  Prize – Paramo Beanie

If you are in years 7-9, please complete and submit the parental consent form along with your entry form.

Download and fill in the entry form

View the competition terms and conditions.

Entries are now closed. The closing date was 30 September 2023.

We look forward to seeing a new range of fantastic images of the world around us, alongside clear and accurate descriptions of the physical processes taking place!

Past winner announcements

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