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The Wildlife Photographers of the Year are exposing in National History Museum

  •   4 min reads
The Wildlife Photographers of the Year are exposing in National History Museum

As soon as you enter the room, the atmosphere instantly changes. On the large black walls are displayed bright photographs, each more colourful than the last. This is the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, a real labyrinth in the dark inside the National History Museum.

From 15 October to 5 June 2022, the London museum is opening its doors to wildlife photography enthusiasts who want to get an eyeful. This year, 100 photographs have been selected thanks to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 contest, the most prestigious competition of its kind.

A journey between curiosity and discovery

Our visit begins with plants, fungi and insects, a collection of macro photographs, as a dive into the heart of the tiny, almost unreal. As the tour progresses, the frame gets bigger: the animals become larger, and the stories more imposing.

Credit: Pauline Gauer

In the corner of a corridor, there is this series of images that everyone stops to look at. The Urban Wildlife category impresses with the depth of the story these images tell, between the young Iberian lynx whose passage is immortalised by Sergio Marijuan through the door of an abandoned farm in Spain, and the story of a fossa in a pile of rubbish looking for food in South Africa, photographed by Elize Labuschagne.

The further you walk through the exhibition, the more you are immersed in the abyss of the ocean, teeming with unusual marine animals, and the tree tops full of rare birds. Since 1965, the National History Museum has been organising the competition to award the most beautiful wildlife photographs in 19 different categories. This year, over 50,000 images were entered.

Photographs as witnesses of real issues

The jury, composed of 7 scientists and photographers including Jordi Chias, Britta Jaschinski and Staffan Widstrand, chose to award the grand prizes to two photographers. In the youth category, Vidyun R Hebbar, a 10-year-old from India, presented a spider photographed in a garden in the city of Bengaluru.

Credit: Pauline Gauer

The winning image in the adult category is called Creation and taken by French photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta. In an interview for National Geographic, he says he has spent more than 3000 hours trying to photograph mating groupers, a once-a-year event lasting less than 30 minutes. For five years, Laurent Ballesta and his team tried to immortalise this event by returning to this lagoon and diving day and night, sometimes joined by reef sharks.

The chair of the jury Roz Kdman Cox said that the French photographer captured a magical moment.

“It is surprising, energetic, and intriguing, and has an otherworldly beauty.”

She said to Natasha Daly for National Geographic.

Credit: Laurent Ballesta

Photojournalism at the heart of the exhibition

The visit continues in the next room, still tinted black to bring out the beauty of the images on display. An immersion that leads us to the Photojournalism category, with the most striking photos for the public. The photographs show animals that are often used or mutilated by man. A real environmental and social message that raises awareness of certain practices used by humans in many parts of the world.

The winner of the category is Adam Oswell for his photography Elephant in the room, about a young elephant performing underwater in front of visitors in Australia Zoo. The photographer denounced the maltreatment and abuse of captive elephants by organisations in Thailand.

The 100 photographs presented in the exhibition are a reflection of our current society, where capitalism takes precedence over the protection of the planet. Through many of the images, there are traces of climate change and the passage of man, sometimes fatal for these wild animals. In addition to being a beautiful exhibition that educates us about rare and protected species, it is a real alarm signal concerning the destruction of the planet and its fauna and flora.

The entrance fee is between £12.50 and £15.50.
Book tickets on the Natural History Museum website.

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