Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 – A Critical Engagement

This anual exhibition is broken down into several subcategories including Urban Wildlife, Black and White and Wildscapes but on viewing the exhibition it was clear to me that there were two distinct fractions, the Adult Category and the Young Category.

The above image was submitted by Sander Brostom in the 11-14 years category and was chosen as runner-up.  What struck me about the image was the fact that it was black and white a very traditional aesthetic but not one typically applied to modern-day wildlife photography, possibly showing a very considered image in such a young category was not something I would have expected.

The other stand out image from the young category was by Jack Salzke, entitled ‘Lure of the Bee’ (below).  The blurb next to the image described the process of experimentation with Macro photography, ISO and manual focus in the creation of the image which won the 15-17 years category.  The image was creatively composed with the bee captured between a cross-section of petals and was compositionally very creative in comparison to other images I have seen of insects by professionals.

Moving through the adult categories I was exposed to countless examples of beautiful imagery, typical of the wildlife genre which would fit perfectly in the pages of National Geographic.  It was in the Urban Wildlife category which I found some of the more creative and considered imagery.  The two examples I have come from Thomas Peter Peschak and Alexander Badyaev, the runner-up and winner of the category respectively.

I was drawn to both these images as they stood out among the more traditional imagery and I was able to liken them to non-wildlife practitioners.  The first image by Peschak reminded me of Fox Talbot’s early experiments with photographic recordings, in particular his image of a Latticed window.  Badyaev’s image is extremely cinematic and considered akin to the work of Gregory Crewdson.

It was these four images which really stood out to me out of the massive body of work on display at this exhibition and provided a more creative and provocative insight into the possibilities of the genre if its practitioners moved away from the ideal’s of previous image creation within wildlife photography.  Possibly this move will be aided by the entrants into the young photographers category who are producing more creatively considered imagery in their chosen field.

More about the exhibition can be viewed at:

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/wpy/

(Word Count: 400)

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