I’m totally thrilled say that I’ve won the Marwell Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Award 2014, with the photo below;
“Leopard Cub In The Light“
It’s an especially interesting photography competition, as there are categories for both Marwell Zoo residents, as well as conventional British wildlife photography. In fact the winning photos in the ‘Native Wildlife’ category were particularly strong. I think that the combination of wild and captive photography makes the competition quite unique, and it nicely mirrors Marwell’s own efforts in conservation of animals both in the wild and captivity.
You can find out more about the competition on the Marwell Wildlife website.
My leopard cub photo above, won the “Marwell Wildlife – Endangered” category, for those species kept at Marwell, which are classified as ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ by the IUCN. And it then went on to win the overall prize, chosen ahead of some other really fantastic category winners.
To say I was stunned is quite an understatement. I only visited Marwell once this year, on a day out with family. So for a change, photography wasn’t my priority for the day. But at the end of the afternoon, as things quietened down a little, the newborn leopard cub emerged from the den, and I managed to get a few photos. I usually rely on a lot of planning and forethought to get these shots, but I guess it goes to show what can happen if you’re prepared for an unexpected opportunity!
I really didn’t think I had much chance of winning at all, given the size of the competition and the standard of the winners from the previous year. But I entered on the off-chance anyway, having seen a link to the website on Marwell’s Flickr page. Even a quick look through there will give you an idea of how many photos of this leopard cub are being taken while she’s still little, so I’m really staggered mine was even noticed amongst them.
Anyone who follows my photography, either on the blog here or on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter will know that I enjoy photography at zoos and wildlife centres equally as much as nature photography in the wild. They’re a great way to see species which aren’t accessible in the wild (Amur Leopards, for example!), as well as photograph exciting species up-close which are difficult and prohibitively expensive to see in the wild. It’s also a great way to get into nature photography as you can learn so quickly without having to invest the time and resources to find rare and secretive species in the wild. For months now, I’ve been planning to write a blog post with some tips for photography of species in captivity, so maybe this will spur me on to get that written.
I was awarded the prize at a presentation at Marwell this weekend, which was a proud and exciting day.
Many thanks to the judges and all those involved in the the competition at Marwell :-)
Post by: George Wheelhouse, 2014.