Call of the wild: nature photography in the frame

Press release - 08 August 2008

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition opens 17 January 2008

From the sub-Arctic wilderness of northern Quebec to the neon-lit backyards of northern Tokyo, the search for the year’s best wildlife photographer has begun.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is the world’s greatest wildlife photography contest and an international leader in the artistic representation of the natural world. Every year, it showcases the very best photographic images of nature to a worldwide audience, giving people an insight into the beauty, drama and variety of the natural world. Now in its forty-fourth year, the 2008 competition is open to anyone with an appreciation of wildlife and a passion for fresh, innovative photography.

Mark Carwardine, zoologist, award-winning writer and photographer and chairman of the competition judging panel said, ‘Nothing speaks louder than an evocative photograph that stirs the imagination, tugs at the heart strings and engages the mind. And as a profound source of beauty, wonder and joy, the winning entries give enormous pleasure to hundreds of thousands of people through books, magazines, newspapers and a major exhibition that opens at the Natural History Museum in London, and then tours the world.’

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is constantly evolving and a new award for 2008 is the Photographers’ Award for Lifetime Commitment to Wildlife Photography. Created to honour a photographer whose commitment to wildlife photography is considered worthy of commendation, be it through the power of imagery or the impact their photography has had, nominations can be made by photographers who are entering their own images to other competition categories.

Entry opens on 17 January 2008 and all images must be submitted by 24 March by post or 31 March online at www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto. Entrants stand to win an impressive £10,000 prize if they are given the coveted title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008 or share of a £23,550 prize fund if successful in one of the categories.

Last year’s competition was the most competitive ever and attracted more than 32,000 entries from 78 countries. Ninety one per cent of 2007 entries were digital – the highest ever for the competition. Ben Osborne from the UK was named Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2007 for his image Elephant creation. Ben’swinning image of a large bull elephant kicking and spraying mud in a waterhole was judged to be the best picture of 2007 for its originality and unusual portrayal of a very familiar subject.

Mark continues, ‘It’s not what you photograph – it’s the way you do it. Despite many people’s fears, pictures of common and familiar species close to home stand just as much chance of winning as pictures of more exotic, rare and unfamiliar ones. Successful photographers work hard at their photography. They get down low, climb high, move backwards, crawl forwards, creep from side to side, think laterally, get up early and stay out late. They are passionate people, determined to get something different.’

Winning photographers will have their images showcased in an international exhibition that debuts at the Natural History Museum in October 2008 before touring venues across the world. Winning images are also featured in a special supplement to the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine and in a hardback commemorative portfolio by BBC Books.

In response to the growing popularity of digital photography by Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition entrants, a podcast is now available featuring interviews with 2007 competition judges and winning photographers. The free download explores how wildlife photographers have used the medium to capture dramatic images of the natural world and investigates the decline of traditional film. Narrated by BBC Front Row presenter Charlotte Mullins, winning photographers give their tips for taking winning shots, while judges Mark Carwardine and Rosamund Kidman Cox speculate on the impact developments in digital photography could have on wildlife photography.

The 20-minute podcast is available free at www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto/podcast

Ends

Notes for editors

Mandatory credit: Wildlife Photographer of the Year is owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.
• The two overall winning titles, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, are selected from the category winners.
• The 11 adult entry categories are: Animals in Their Environment, Animal Behaviour: Birds, Animal Behaviour: Mammals, Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals, The Underwater World, Animal Portraits, In Praise of Plants, Urban and Garden Wildlife, Nature in Black and White, Creative Visions of Nature and Wild Places.
• The Underwater World category is supported by Project AWARE Foundation (International).
• The four special awards are the Eric Hosking Award, given for the best portfolio of six images taken by a photographer in the age range 18–26, the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife, given for the best image of a species officially listed in the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the new One Earth Award, which seeks to highlight the interaction between humans and the natural world. NEW FOR 2008: Photographers’ Award for Lifetime Commitment to Wildlife Photography, given to a photographer whose commitment to wildlife photography is considered worthy of commendation.
• The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is open to photographers aged 17 years and under, in three age categories: 10 years and under, 11–14 years and 15–17 years.

For photographs, to arrange interviews or for further information, please contact:
Sam Roberts
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Press Office
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7942 5156 / 5654
Email: wildpress@nhm.ac.uk