Seeing Our Planet Through Children’s Eyes

First prize: SOS! By Anastasya Vorobko, 8 years old from Russia

The winners of Children’s Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest were announced today, with first prize going to eight-year-old Anastasya Vorobko from Saint Petersburg in Russia, for her image SOS!

This new photo contest, which was launched earlier this summer by National Geographic photographer, Reza, in association with the Azerbaijan-based NGO, IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action), aims to raise awareness of environmental issues through the eyes of young people and their photographs.

Emergency Exit by Juan Carlos Canales
Second prize: Emergency Exit by Juan Carlos Canales, 14 years old from Spain

Children’s Eyes On Earth has drawn an astonishing number of striking images from children in 90 countries around the world. Over 4,000 photographs, on the themes I Love Nature and I Fear Pollution, were submitted by young people under the age of 17, from regions as diverse as the USA, Romania, Australia and Iran.

The winning entries – chosen by an international judging panel, with one prize decided by public vote – display an artistic maturity way beyond the young photographers’ years. “Looking at the incredible photographs entered into this contest, I believe that the world’s children have acquired a mature visual and technical mastery of the camera,” says Reza. “These images are visual poems, reflecting the deep thoughts of children and revealing how they see the beauty of nature and the dangers of pollution on our planet.”

Morning at Situ Gunung by Michael Theodric
Third prize (joint): Morning at Situ Gunung by Michael Theodric, 10 years old from Indonesia

Anastasya’s photograph shows a bird flying over thick smog being emitted from a factory funnel – the view from her school.
On discovering that she had won the contest, Anastasya said, “I wanted to show everyone how bad the air is in our city. I see the bird in this picture as carrying a message around the world, with the hope that adults everywhere will start to care about the air that we breathe. If we don’t look after our planet, then who will?”

Fields of Green by Bianca Stan
Third prize (joint): Fields of Green by Bianca Stan, 14 years old from Romania

Anastaysya and the other winners will receive prizes including cameras and iPads, and will participate in the Children’s Eyes On Earth Exhibition and Festival, which will run from 26th November to 1st December in Baku, Azerbaijan. Reza plans to take the exhibition and festival to other major cities around the world, raising global awareness about environmental issues. “I hope the Children’s Eyes On Earth project will continue to give children a platform to show us the world through their eyes, and inspire everyone to take action,” he says.

In The Wind by Sophie Vela
Special prize: In The Wind by Sophie Vela, 14 years old from France

The full list of 2012 winners are:
First prize: SOS! By Anastasya Vorobko, 8 years old from Russia
Second prize: Emergency Exit by Juan Carlos Canales, 14 years old from Spain
Third prize (joint): Morning at Situ Gunung by Michael Theodric, 10 years old from Indonesia and Fields of Green by Bianca Stan, 14 years old from Romania
Special prize: In The Wind by Sophie Vela, 14 years old from France
Your Choice Public Vote prize: The Last Breath by Kseniya Saberzhanova, 17 years old from Russia

See the contest’s shortlisted images at www.childrenseyesonearth.org

All images © Photographer / Children’s Eyes On Earth 2012.

The Last Breath by Kseniya Saberzhanova
Your Choice Public Vote prize: The Last Breath by Kseniya Saberzhanova, 17 years old from Russia
  • Ewout de Gelder

    Those photos are very cool and the idea of that contest is really interesting. Nice work, young people! What I find a bit disturbing, however, is the ‘adult-imposed fear and gloom’ that is present in the photographs. It’s the pure awe and fascination and wonder that I admire so much in children… and that I try to emulate as an adult. Let kids discover and explore the wonders of nature in peace, I say… and they can worry about smog and pollution when they grow up. It’s not about ignorance… it just seems to me that adults can just as easily pollute children’s developing minds as they can our amazing planet.

    Kids don’t yet understand that it is self-righteous to make a photo that denounces factories and production, while at the same time using cameras and wearing clothes and riding in cars that have to be produced also, causing the same pollution. Adults SHOULD know this, so they shouldn’t compel kids to relate vague messages about pollution. Let the kids focus on loving nature, which they have such a tremendous capacity to do!

  • Gary

    Nature has a lesson for all of us which is that she gives back to the earth. Children know this and they are also willing to give something to secure their own future on this planet. The natural systems (that include children) are more than willing and these wonderful photos are evidence. Just ask them!

  • Heather Villa

    Thanks for posting these strikingly emotional photographs.

  • loretta

    Great photos – but I have to agree 100% with the previous comment. It is our (adults) responsibility to take care of the
    environment. Give children their childhood!

  • jennifer

    very wise comment and by loving nature and all the wonders in it that we have been given, the virtue of responsiblity and caring will come forth and they will be moved to make sustainable changes as adults.
    Nevertheless, the beauty and their level of concern shines through.
    Thank you

  • Shirley Marsh

    I don’t think children have to be brainwashed into seeing the reality of life on our planet. If they wait until they’re grown up to take action, it could well be too late. It’s the kids who are in awe of nature, and who also are aware of what we are doing to our planet in the name of money and greed, that will power change. As for being self-righteous to spotlight the results of their parent’s mistakes; we are all caught in the trap of modern living. It will take time and commitment to turn things around, and most of us are doing our best to do our bit in whatever ways we can. Things are turning around; our kids just help bring the message home quicker!

  • Jagdish P Dave

    I work with children in a Montessori school in Phoenix, AZ. In my Project Learning class, the students have selected the area to study, work on and be actively involved in tackling it.. It is Waste Not, Want Not. It is amazing and encouraging to watch these children working on real life projects for saving our planet. They seem to be more aware and concerned about these global issues than most of the adults who are either unaware of the gravity of the this global problem or are complacent about it. Such children are our hope. We, as adults, have to join hands with them and be active in saving our planet. It is not one country’s planet,; it is our planet. It is us. These pictures make me hopeful about our future.
    Jagdish P Dave

  • Jagdish P Dave

    Our present days children are very different from us who did not have such huge problems like pollution, ongoing wars, huge wastage of our natural resources, severe medical and mental health problems caused by the toxic conditions by the highly developed and “progressive” countries we live in.It is not wise to keep our children unaware of what has been going on right in front of their eyes and be idle observers and victims of our own blunders. I am not an advocate of brainwashing anyone including us, the adults. We need to learn from our children’s growing awareness of the life threatening problems and learn how to be a partner in tackling them. The children I work with are happy children enjoying their childhood and at the same time getting educated about the problems we are facing. They are part of us, not apart from us. I hope we do not underestimate their intelligence, critical ability, compassion and creativity in all areas of their lives. They, like us, need to be mindful of the harmful impact of the choices we make based on ignorance wants and greed and not on needs. Education is not just for preparation for life;it is life itself.
    Jagdish P Dave

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