Thursday 22 March 2018


Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum

We're incredibly lucky in London to have a wealth of museums and art galleries on our doorstep. Regardless of what you're interested in, you'll be able to find an exhibition to suit your tastes. I love discovering new animals facts and nature pictures, so the stunning Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum is one of my annual staples on the cultural calendar. Not only is it a gorgeous exhibit to visit, but the captions underneath each photo provide fascinating insights into exotic locations and animals, making it a very educational outing for all ages.

After writing about the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) exhibition in 2016 and 2017, I was excited to return to the wonderful Natural History Museum (NHM) with my blogging hat on last weekend. This is already one of my absolute favourite exhibitions of the year, but when I visit specifically to write about it I always find myself observing everything in more detail and taking it in even more.

© Stuck In by Ashleigh Scully

Showing the best of nature photography, the exhibition has run at the NHM since 1984. This year it comprises of 100 photographs selected from almost 50,000 entries originating from 92 countries. They're a mixture of professional and amateur entries, yet they're all so incredibly well shot that it's impossible to distinguish one from the other. Even the photos in the Young Shots category, which has displays from photographers as young as five years of age, look like they come straight out of Natural Geographic Magazine!

Like previous years, the exhibition has been split up into clearly distinguishable categories. For the 53rd edition this includes: Young Photographers (10 years & under, 10-14 year old and 15-17 year old), Diversity (Amphibians & Reptiles, Mammals, Invertebrates, Birds, Plants & Fungi and Animals in Their Environment), Portraits (Black & White and Animal Portraits), Portfolio, Documentary, Environments and Overall Winners (Single Image and Story).

© Palm-Oil Survivors by Aaron 'Bertie' Gekoski

While it really isn't fair to single out favourites as it really was a stellar collection of photographs, some shots resonated with me more than others, for a variety of reasons. Over the years I've found that the exhibition has become more obviously a stepping stone for those involved to gain public awareness of the decline of species and landscapes, and the terrible way we as humans are treating the planet and animal life. This is a necessity in today's society and if they're able to reach more people with the message through the awards and exhibit then that is great, so we can hopefully make a positive change.

There were some remarkably poignant and horrifying photographs that really highlighted these elements, and yet it was the more every day animals and simpler shots that stood out to me the most. Perhaps especially because in these trying times we also need a reminder of the joy and beauty that surrounds us and that's why the majority of my favourites are of the lighter variety:

Stuck In by teenager Ashleigh Scully showing red fox hunting in a snow drift; Bear Hug by the same photographer; the heartrending shot of elephants huddled together in a tight space in Palm-Oil Survivors by Aaron 'Bertie' Gekoski; the adorable Road Hog by young photographer Evalotta Zeck; The Good Life by Daniel Nelson who won the Young Photographer Award for his cheeky gorilla portrait; the fantastical pitcher plants in Goblets of Desire by Thomas P. Peschak, Layers of Autumn by Uge Fuertes Sanz, which depicts a tea of ethereal teasels; the mesmerising Arctic Treasure by Sergey Gorshkov capturing the viewer in a staring content with a Arctic fox; the incredible close-up of fluffy polar bear feet in Polar Par de Deux by Ello Elvinger; and the illuminating mountain hares in Snow Spat by Erlend Haarberg.

© Polar Par de Deux by Ello Elvinger

I spent just over an hour browsing the stunning collection of photos that make up this year's exhibition, and that included reading the captions underneath each of the displays. It may not sound like a terribly long time, but wandering along the beautiful photographs you'll get a lot of different impressions. So an hour is a good chunk of time to focus on this, and you'll leave inspired, your head filled with animal facts and beautiful wildlife shots.

Top tip: It can be tricky when visiting a temporary exhibition to see all of the displays because it's too busy, but while the permanent collections at the Natural History Museum can get very crowded, the WPY is carefully managed to allow each attendee to enjoy it properly. This does mean, however, that there is a limited number of tickets available each day and so it's highly advisable to book in advance as they do sell out. If you're able to visit during the week outside of school holidays you're more likely to get lucky if you want to chance it on the day, but otherwise I recommend to book in advance and visit as early on in the day as possible.

© The Good Life by Daniel Nelson

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will be on at the Natural History Museum until 28 May 2018 before its worldwide tour, so you've got a few more months left to visit this year's edition in London. Make sure you book your tickets now!

🎵 Listening to: McFly – Love Is Easy
🔹 Mood: Tired

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