Editor’s Note: This is a press release regarding the wildlife photographer of the year selected by Natural History Museum, London. Nature photography, in the correct context, can be an efficient tool for conservation efforts. It not only helps to know about any given piece of land, but also is a powerful tool to raise mass awareness regarding conservation and endangered species. In a world where most humans live their lives, to a large extent, disconnected from the natural world, nature photography can help remind people of the natural world and to inspire a sense of respect for her.
French underwater photographer and marine biologist Laurent Ballesta was awarded for Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 for ‘The golden horseshoe’, an otherworldly image of a tri-spine horseshoe crab accompanied by a trio of golden trevallies.
The tri-spine horseshoe crab has survived for more than 100 million years but now faces habitat destruction and overfishing for food and for its blue blood, used in the development of vaccines. But, in the protected waters of Pangatalan Island in the Philippines, there is hope for its survival.
Chair of the jury and editor, Kathy Moran says, ‘To see a horseshoe crab so vibrantly alive in its natural habitat, in such a hauntingly beautiful way, was astonishing. We are looking at an ancient species, highly endangered, and also critical to human health. This photo is luminescent.’
Laurent is only the second photographer in the competition’s fifty-nine-year history to be awarded the Grand Title award twice. He was first awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2021 for his intriguing image of camouflage groupers exiting a milky cloud of eggs and sperm in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023
Seventeen-year-old Carmel Bechler from Israel was awarded Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 for his ‘Owls’ road house’, a dynamic frame of barn owls in an abandoned roadside building. Using the family car as hide, Carmel made the most of natural light and long exposure times to capture the light trails of passing traffic.
Carmel was just 11 years old when he began wildlife photography, and this is his first award in the annual competition. ‘I hope to share with my photography that the beauty of the natural world is all around us, even in places where we least expect it to be, we just need to open our eyes and our minds,’ says Carmel.
‘This photograph has so many layers in terms of content and composition. It simultaneously screams “habitat destruction” and “adaptation”, begging the question: If wildlife can adapt to our environment, why can’t we respect theirs?,’ says Kathy Moran.
Catalyst for change
The two Grand Title winners were selected from 19 astounding category winners that showcase the rich diversity of life on Earth. In an intensive process, each entry was judged anonymously by an international panel of experts on its originality, narrative, technical excellence, and ethical practice.
Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum comments, ‘Whilst inspiring absolute awe and wonder, this year’s winning images present compelling evidence of our impact on nature – both positive and negative. Global promises must shift to action to turn the tide on nature’s decline.’
The newly redesigned exhibition also features videos showing the impact wildlife photography can have, and insights from jury members, photographers and Museum scientists to invite visitors to advocate for the natural world. The journey continues online with planet-positive actions audiences can take. The exhibition will tour across the UK and internationally to venues in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, and more.
Exhibition at Natural History Museum, London
- Opens Friday 13 October 2023 and closes Sunday 30 June 2024.
- The exhibition is open Monday – Sunday, 10.00-17.50 (last admission at 16.30), and weekends sell out quickly.
- Adult tickets from £17.50*, concession tickets £14.00*, and child £10.50*.
- Off-peak Ault tickets from £15.00, off-peak concession ticket £12.00, and off-peak child ticket £9.00 (*Prices excluding optional Gift Aid donation to the Museum.)
- Get behind the lens of some of the world’s best wildlife photographers with a new Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition tour: www.nhm.ac.uk/events/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year-tour
- Book your tickets: www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year
Sixtieth Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition
- Opens for entries on Monday 16 October 2023.
- Closing for entries at 11.30am GMT on Thursday 7 December 2023.
- Entrants to the adult competition may enter up to 25 images for a £30 fee, which increases to £35 in the final week of the entry period from 11.30am GMT 30 November to 11.30am GMT 7 December 2023.
- An entry fee waiver has been introduced for photographers entering the adult competition who live in Africa, Southeast Asia and Central and South America.
- Entrants aged 17 and under may enter up to 10 images for free.
- Find out how to enter: www.nhm.ac.uk/wpy/competition
Photos fr. t.t.b.: © Laurent Ballesta, Carmel Bechler / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023