Lennart Nilsson Award

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The Lennart Nilsson Award Foundation was established in 1998 in recognition of the world-renowned Swedish photographer’s work. Honorees are people who work "in the spirit of Lennart Nilsson", revealing science to the world in beautiful, unique and powerful ways.

The Lennart Nilsson Award for medical, technical and scientific photography comprises a diploma and the sum of SEK 100,000 (approx. EUR 10,400). It is presented annually at a late-autumn ceremony in Berwaldhallen, a concert hall in Stockholm, Sweden. The occasion also marks the installation of Professors at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden's largest medical training and research centre and the home of the Nobel Assembly.


Honored Astrophotographers

Since the award's inception in 1998 a few astrophotographers have been nominated and chosen for this prestigious honor:

  • 2000 David Malin: For developing the "Malinization" enhancement procedure — a significant advance in photographic astronomy.
  • 2004 Göran Scharmer: For his pioneering work to reveal the Sun in a radically new way.
  • 2009 Babak Tafreshi: For reclaiming a night sky that most modern people have lost, taking us to remote places where the stars still look like they did at the dawn of mankind.
  • 2009 Carolyn Porco: For combining the finest techniques of planetary exploration and scientific research with aesthetic finesse and educational talent.


Candidates for the Award must use photographic representation as their explanatory medium. Users of animation technology, which can serve to impart verisimilitude and movement to scientific material, are also eligible for nomination. Prior publication is not a requirement.

Evaluation is based on the visual representation of science as beautiful and the aesthetics of the images concerned; the impact of the images in the community at large; the content of the images and what they reveal about their subjects; the excellence in image-making craft that is demonstrated; the excitement invoked in the viewer; the complexity of the methods required to create the images; and other relevant subjective tools.


Every year, about 50 international advisers are asked to propose candidates for the Award. A nominating committee, including experts in science and photography, appointed by the Board of the Foundation, evaluates the candidates and nominates three to five finalists. The final decision on whom to honour with the Award is made by the Board.

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