A photograph of a fox burying its head in the snow

Stuck In won the 2017 11-14 Years category in the young competition 

© Ashleigh Scully

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: girls in wildlife photography

Meet the young women and girls changing the face of wildlife photography.

Wildlife photography is a traditionally male-dominated field, with adventure, travel and 'off the beaten track' exploration often associated with men. As a result, many women find it more challenging to break into the industry.

Interestingly, the young competition generally sees a higher entry rate among girls than the adult competition does - nearly 40% of young competition entrants compared with just over 20% in the adult categories. Is this a sign that things are changing? Are women and girls the future of wildlife photography?

Join us as we look at the last few years of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition to celebrate the inspiring work by some of the young entrants.

Stuck in and Bear Hug - Ashleigh Scully

2017 saw a much stronger female representation in the young categories. Ashleigh's striking image of a hunting fox was the winner of the 11-14 Years category while another of her images, Bear Hug, was a finalist. 

A photo of a mother bear walking acorss a beach with her cub

Bear Hug was a finalist in the 2017 11-14 Years category

© Ashleigh Scully

Ashleigh travelled to Alaska with the intention of photographing brown bear families. This image shows the moment she had been waiting for as a mother crossed the beach with her two young cubs.

Young bears stay with their mother for two or three years learning how to survive in the often-hostile environments of Alaska and northern Canada. This young family was likely following the plentiful food supplies that emerge in the summer months including clams, salmon and berries.

Glimpse of a Lynx - Laura Albiac Vilas

Laura's image of an Iberian lynx was also a finalist in the 11-14 Years category in 2017. The Iberian lynx is one of the world's most endangered felines, found only in southern Spain.

A photo of a lynx in a forest looking at the camera

Glimpse of a Lynx was a finalist in the 2017 11-14 Years category

© Laura Albiac Vilas

Laura and her family travelled to the Sierra de Andújar Nature Park with the hope of seeing one of these cats in the wild.

Laura says, 'All wildlife photographers have to be respectful, because the most important thing is not to disturb animals or not to pollute nature.' After spotting a pair of lynxes by the side of the road, Laura watched patiently from afar, allowing them to remain calm and undisturbed.

Laura's dream is to travel to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya to photograph the animals that roam freely there.

In the Grip of the Gulls - Ekaterina Bee

Ekaterina was just five years old when her striking photo won the 10 Years and Under category. According to Ekaterina, 'A great wildlife photographer is someone who is able to see nature in a different way.' This approach is clear in her winning photo which shows two herring gulls off the coast of Norway. 

A photo of a white herring gull in flight

In the Grip of the Gulls was the winner of the 2017 10 Years and Under category

© Ekaterina Bee

Visitors to the region are generally more interested in the impressive white-tailed sea-eagles that can be found along the coast, however Ekaterina was drawn to the noise and commotion caused by the frantic gulls.  

Ekaterina is inspired by her father, who has also won awards in the competition, as well as the work of Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov who won the fifty-sixth grand title.

Road Hog - Evalotta Zacek

Evalotta's peaceful hedgehog portrait, which she took while on an 'animal drive' with her family, was awarded in the 10 Years and Under category. The family were looking for deer and foxes, but when the hedgehog crossed the road in front of them, they stopped for photos. 

A photo of a hedgehog crossing a road

Road Hog was a finalist in the 2017 10 Years and Under category

© Evalotta Zacek

Hedgehogs used to be found across Europe, however their numbers are in decline. Often travelling at night in search for food such as beetles and slugs, they face danger on roads as car drivers cannot see them in the dark.

The Fox That Got the Goose – Liina Heikkinen

Liina's photo of a fox cub devouring a barnacle goose away from the prying eyes of its sibling was awarded the grand title of Young Wildlife Photographer of the year in the fifty-sixth competition.

A photo of a young fox cub eating a barnacle goose

The Fox That Got the Goose was the Young Grand Title Winner 2020

© Liina Heikkinen

Foxes have adapted incredibly well to living alongside humans. As cubs they learn to hunt insects and earthworms while still relying on their parents for smaller mammals and birds for nutrition.

Liina comes from a family of wildlife photographers. She says, 'My inspiration has been my own father. He has been into wildlife photography since he was a young boy and he has shared his hobby with me and my three older siblings'.

Liina's work has placed in the competition before, as have photographs by her father, Jari Heikkinen. Her dream is to go to Africa to take photos, she says, 'I would like to get to know its animals, nature and people'.

Paired up Puffins – Evie Easterbrook

Evie's portrait of two puffins showing off their brightly coloured mating bills was highly commended in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Atlantic puffins develop black 'eyeliner' and vibrantly coloured bills during the breeding season to help them attract a potential mate.

A photograph of two puffins looking at the camera

Paired-up Puffins was Highly Commended in the 11-14 Years category in 2020

© Evie Easterbrook

For Evie, the most important quality of a wildlife photographer is to enjoy observing wildlife. She says, 'I think this allows you to predict behaviours and see the composition you want to capture. It is then about capturing it at the right moment. This all requires a lot of patience, of course.'

Evie hopes to one day travel to Australia to photograph the wildlife there. 'I have done quite a lot of wildlife photography around the UK,' she says, 'so it would be great to experience the very different wildlife I would be able to see and photograph in Australia'.

The Perfect Catch - Hannah Vijayan

Hannah's portrait of an Alaskan brown bear hunting in the calm waters of Katmai National Park was highly commended in this year's 15-17 Years category.

A photo of a bear at the edge of a river with a fish in its mouth

The Perfect Catch was Highly Commended in the 15-17 Years category in 2020

© Hannah Vijayan

Hannah made sure to move away from the waterfall which was crowded with both bears and tourists in order to get her peaceful photo, showing both the bear and its meal in the reflection of the still water.

Brown bears are some of the heaviest in the world, and they come to this river to feed on sockeye salmon. It is important for bears to feast before the winter months to ensure their survival during their hibernation.