Hidden Earth Photo Salon

The purpose of this salon and competition is to encourage both new and experienced cave photographers. We will accept entries that depict any aspect of caving, cave science or mine exploration. Submissions from both established and new photographers are invited. During the judging process consideration will be given to artistic, technical and aesthetic qualities. A prize will be awarded to the overall winner in each category and, in addition, Merit and Distinction awards will highlight examples of praiseworthy entries. The Photo Salon is organised by the British Cave Research Association, BCRA.

Salon Co-ordinator

Paul Fretwell

Contact details

Entry Deadline

Announced as soon as the next event date is set.


  • Colour Print Category – one winner
  • Monochrome Print Category – one winner
  • Digital Image Category – one winner
  • Portfolio (Premier Trophy) – one winner (prize: £100 from BCRA)
  • British Newcomer Award – one winner
  • Cave Science Award – one winner
  • Plus Distinctions and Merits

Additional winners awarded by a delegate vote:

  • One winner from all prints on display
  • Fun shot – judged by the audience laughometer

    How to Enter

Entries should be registered using the online system in advance of the conference (by the above deadline). Entries after this date are not guaranteed space on the display boards.

Photo salon entry is currently closed but keep checking back. It will be announced on social media when entry is open.

Competition Categories

There are several competition categories. Each photo entry is accompanied by a card on which the entrant should indicate which category they wish that photo to be considered under. Note that one photo may be entered for consideration in multiple categories.

  • Colour Print, Monochrome Print, Digital Files
    Up to eight entries per person in each of these three categories. One 'first prize' is awarded in each category, plus a number of Distinction and Merit Awards. Sepia and other toned monochrome prints are acceptable in the monochrome category. The judges will look unfavourably on near-identical images that are submitted in colour and monochrome versions. Digital files will be viewed by the judges on a computer monitor. Further information, including file formats is given on the entry form. Note that Special Effects, Digital and Composite Work are not barred from the competition but, as with all entries, you must demonstrate to the judges that your entry has sufficient technical, artistic and aesthetic qualities.
  • Portfolio (Premier Trophy)
    The Premier Trophy is so named because the trophy is a replica of the millionth lamp manufactured by the Premier Lamp Engineering Co Ltd in Leeds in January 1950. The winner is awarded a cash prize (currently £100) and will have their name engraved on the trophy. To enter the Premier Trophy, you may choose FIVE of the above colour and monochrome print entries to form a portfolio. One entry (of five photos) is allowed per person. Note that a winning entry in this category will not be eligible to win any further prizes for the other categories. There is no requirement that the photos follow a theme. It is up to you to decide the content (and you might decide on a theme if you wish, or to explore some other aspect of presentation). It is up to the judges to judge the photos as a whole portfolio, deciding if the prints work well as a set. Because presentation is important, you should ask if you wish your photos to be displayed to a particular layout.
  • British Newcomer
    We encourage newcomers to enter the competition and we offer a special prize for the best British Isles newcomer. We encourage you to treat the term 'newcomer' inventively – are you a newcomer specifically to underwater photography, or 3D, perhaps? The winner is chosen from the entries in the colour, monochrome and digital categories.
  • Cave Science

    The Cave Science award has been introduced to encourage cave photographers to look further at the environment. Entries in this category should depict some type of scientific study and must be accompanied by documentation that describes it in scientific terms. For example, a photograph showing sampling of cave sediment or water should include an explanation of why this activity was being carried out, and a photo of a geological feature would need to explain the context (for example the type of rock and its significance). Similarly, a photograph of a cave passage or speleothem should include the scientific points of significance. A photo of some broken speleothem might not seem appealing but if it was accompanied by a note explaining that breakage was a consequence of natural conditions in the past then it would make a valid entry. This competition category used be known as Cave Life, and biological studies will remain a valid topic within the Cave Science theme. They should be accompanied by a note recording the name of the organism as well as information on the context. When judging the Cave Science category the usual team of three judges will seek advice from cave scientists with appropriate specialist knowledge. Up to three entries per person may be put forward for the Cave Science award.

  • Fun Shot
    A single or short sequence of projections with caption(s). Judged by the 'laughometer' at the conference closing ceremony! Up to three entries per person. In this category, we reserve the right to preview entries for mirth and to withdraw any that are not funny enough.
  • Giles Barker Award
    This annual award is given jointly by Morgannwg CC and Red Rose CPC in recognition of excellence in any aspect of cave photography. The winner is announced at the closing ceremony, although the award is independent of Hidden Earth and the BCRA Photo Salon.


  • Delivery of Prints
    Your work should be delivered to the exhibition area by midday on the first day of the conference. Postal entries are not accepted. If you are late in arriving you may find that there is limited display space left for you. You are expected to hang your work yourselves, under the supervision of the event staff. You should collect your work on the afternoon of the last day of the event. Work left behind cannot be returned.
  • Eligibility
    Anyone may enter the competition. Images that are, in the view of the judges, substantially similar to winning entries from the same photographer in previous Hidden Earth competitions will be disqualified.
  • Subject matter
    This can be any aspect of caving, cave science or mine exploration.
  • Entry limits
    As indicated in the description of the various competition categories.
  • Judging
    This will be by a panel of three judges whose decision is final. Note that the organisers reserve the right not to award a prize if, in the opinion of the judges, the entries are too few and of insufficient standard to constitute a competition.
  • Permissions
    All works entered for the competition must have permission from the owners of all data (e.g. other photographs) used in production of the entry, and this must be appropriately credited.
  • Display Requirements
    Only card frames are allowed – no glass, clip-frames, or other heavy frames. The maximum dimensions of the mount plus frame that we can accept without prior arrangement are 400mm x 500mm. Because of space restrictions, we cannot guarantee to accept work that exceeds those dimensions and, if you wish to submit oversize work, it is a condition of entry that you contact the competition co-ordinator in advance to enquire about its acceptability.

Other information and recommendations

  • Copyright
    The copyright of all entries will remain with the photographer. Entries may be reproduced for display at the closing ceremony and for display during the weekend. All reproduced entries will be credited. No further use will be made of any copies without permission. No rights will be conceded to sponsors or other parties without permission of the entrants, and entrants will be free to set terms for any such use.
  • Display
    You will almost certainly improve the presentation of your print by mounting it. But do make sure that the mount will not curl or come unglued in the heat of the lights.
  • Print size
    We no longer specify the minimum print size in the rules, but you are advised that prints should have one-dimension (excluding any border or frame) that is at least 200mm to be of ‘reasonable’ size. For the Premier Trophy, 250mm is advised.
  • Print labelling
    For the benefit of viewers, you may wish to label your prints with a note (very short please) explaining where the photo was taken. It is in your own interest to properly label the back of each of your prints with your name and contact details.
  • Judging
    Although the competition categories will each have only one winning entry, the judges will also award Distinctions and Merits to entries that are worthy of mention; and there is a delegate vote for the best item on display. The premier trophy is judged first and all non-winning entries from this are taken forward for judging in the other categories.
  • The judges
    We choose judges who have a recognised experience and skill. For example, we try to include a professional cave photographer (who may be an FRPS), an established amateur cave photographer (who may have won prizes in previous BCRA competitions) and someone who uses cave photographs professionally, e.g. in the media or publishing industry. We also consider inviting an overseas visitor to the conference to participate in the judging if they have the relevant skills and experience. It is not always possible to announce the names of the judges in advance, but their names are published afterwards.
  • Screening of Digital Entries
    It is expected that the digital entries will be screened in the exhibition hall.
  • Feedback
    We expect to arrange a feedback session, attended by a representative of the judging team and/or the salon coordinator to supply feedback.
  • List of Winners
    A list of competition winners is made available to the media on request and is also published on the Hidden Earth website. Reproduction of winning entries is governed by the competition rules and is in accordance with the guidelines of the Artists Bill of Rights Campaign.
  • Loss, Damage & Insurance
    Every care will be taken of the entries, but the organisers cannot accept responsibility for any damage or loss. The organisers will not be insuring any work and, if required, entrants should make their own arrangements.