Three veteran National Geographic photographers are among the winners of the 50th Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, which were announced in London on Tuesday.
The awards competition, hosted by the British Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide, recognizes excellence in nature photography.
This year's winners include Michael "Nick" Nichols, an editor at large for National Geographic magazine, who was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 for his photograph "The Last Great Picture," above. Nichols also won for best black and white image.
Also recognized were National Geographic photographers Brent Stirton and Tim Laman, for the special awards Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year and best portfolio, respectively.
"Ever since I was a kid, as a photographer I've been looking for a new view on the world," Nichols says.
The biggest challenge in wildlife photography is "capturing images that surprise viewers and invite a sense of intimacy with the natural world," he added.
Nichols is adamant about the importance of ethics in photojournalism. He believes in ruthless honesty about how a photograph was made and minimizing impact on animals and ecosystems. (See an interactive experience on the Serengeti lion based on Nichols's work.)
A veteran of more than three decades in photojournalism, Nichols has worked in sweltering swamps, dense jungle, and the icy wastes of the Arctic.
His unwavering commitment has helped make a difference. Nichols's photos documenting Mike Fay's Megatransect across Congo and Gabon helped raise $65 million for the establishment of 13 new national parks in West Africa.
"We're inundated with images these days—literally billions are made every day—but I think the public still responds to strong images," says Brent Stirton, whose photographs on conflict between people and lions were also recognized Tuesday. "Maybe now more than ever photojournalism has an important role."
—By Brian Clark Howard, photo gallery by Nicole Werbeck