Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 Winners Announced!!
After months of waiting we are delighted to announce all the winners for the 2019 Bird Photographer of the Year Competition!
Congratulations go to our overall Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 Winner Caron Steele from the United Kingdom with her spectacular image of a Dalmatian Pelican taken on a frozen Lake Kerkini in Greece. The image entitled ‘Dancing on Ice’ was an instant favourite with the judges who comment on the image ‘Lake Kerkini’s Dalmatian Pelicans are a popular subject in the competition, and the judges see hundreds of pictures of them. The fact that this image had such immediate and lasting impact on the panel is testament to the skill of the photographer. What makes it special is that the frozen lake presented an almost unique opportunity for Caron to capture a picture with a different perspective. So often these opportunities are wasted - delightfully not on this occasion. Congratulations Caron, this is a photographic masterpiece.’
Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 winner Caron Steele comments “I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be announced as the winner of this fabulous competition. It is wonderful to receive such recognition for something I absolutely love doing. I only took up photography seriously in 2014 when I got my first DSLR and since then I have been on a sharp learning curve. I did a zoology degree at the University of Oxford, but then went on to pursue other things. Now I love being able to get back to nature and see things through the perspective of my camera. I am so passionate about conservation and am keen to find an angle where I can help make a significant difference; winning this award has spurred me on to renew my efforts. In today’s hectic life I think it is vital we strive to save the beautiful natural world around us, as ultimately I believe it will save us. Photography and being at one with nature brings a sense of calm, joy and appreciation that can strip away the stresses of life. I recommend this therapy to everyone. Save your planet and save your soul: pick up a camera and get out there today and be as free as a bird!”
Heading an experienced panel of judges, naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham, comments on the competition “Winning this competition is getting harder. And that’s the way it should be because photography is evolving more rapidly than ever: it is visibly edging closer to being able to facilitate perfection. Like life itself it has hardware - the cameras - and software - the information they collect - and we’ve gone from the Neolithic to the Nexus 6 in about 40 years.”
Chris continues, “The standard of photography has risen markedly yet again. We’ve had more entries from more photographers from more countries than before and critically we are very excited that we have a female winner. Yes! Yes! Yes! BPOTY is not only keeping up with the technology, it’s keeping up with the times too.”
In addition to the top prize of £5,000, Caron won the Best Portrait category with this image and scoops a pair of Swarovski Optik CL Companion 8x30 binoculars. It seems that the BPOTY community agrees with the judges as the image was also the People’s Choice for Best Portrait.
To see all our winners please visit the winners page.
Entries are now being invited into the 2020 competition. With more prizes and more categories and awards to enter than ever before, make sure that you don’t miss out on a chance to win. Entries close on 30th November 2019.
BEST PORTFOLIO 2019 WINNER
Receiving an Olympus OM-D E M1 MKII camera body and M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F/4 IS PRO lens with a combined value of £3,500 is the winner of the Best Portfolio award Thomas Hinsche from Germany. This prize rewards consistency of skill and photographic talent over a series of 6 images as scored by the judges.
Other competition category Gold Award winners announced are:
Birds in the Environment – Mohammad Khorshed, Kuwait
Attention to Detail – Pål Hermansen - Norway
Bird Behaviour – Ivan Sjögren, Sweden
Birds in Flight – Nikunj Patel, United States of America
Garden and Urban Birds – Chad Larsen, Canada
Creative Imagery – Marc Weber, France
INSPIRATIONAL ENCOUNTERS AWARD WINNER
New for the 2019 Competition, Inspirational Encounters is an Award is won by Martin Grace from the United Kingdom for his photograph of Emperor Penguins in Antarctica. Established in association with wildlife travel company, Wildlife Worldwide and their sister company, The Travelling Naturalist, the Award celebrates all that is positive about the impact of the avian world on people and the potential that it has to inspire all of us by combining imagery and prose: entrants were invited to submit an image that represents an inspirational encounter with birds accompanied by approximately 150 words of text. The task was that imagery and text combined should tell a story and convey to the viewer and reader the significance of this moment to the photographer. The Award also aims to help conservation via a £1,500 donation from Wildlife Worldwide going to the annual Birdfair cause.
“Emperor. Penguin. Individually words of little distinction, but together an icon of near-mythical proportion. Flightless. The only bird that completely forgoes land. The march. The crazily dedicated parenting. Arguably the most difficult bird in the world to see. But forget for now the travel nightmare, the two days turbulent torture of the ‘never-again’ Drake Passage, the teetering on the edge of ‘will-we, won’t-we?’ Decades of aspiration are finally approaching a culmination. An unexpected route appears through storm-packed sea ice and Antarctica’s fickle summer opens a calm window of blue. This miraculous conspiracy permits no more than half an hour at the colony, including walking time from landing. Borrowed boots pinch, clothing is stiflingly excessive, and frustration also boils as the camera tangles inside the rucksack. But actually having made it is too overwhelming, too emotional. I shoot a few images then put the camera away, and for fifteen minutes it is just me, the Emperors and heaven.”
Martin Grace, Inspirational Encounters Award Winner 2019.
YOUNG BIRD PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2019 WINNER
The winner of the Young Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 competition is also announced. The first prize has been claimed by Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz from Hungary with his innovative use of a drone to capture this colourful image of Mallards entitled ‘The Cradle of Life’. Tamás wins a pair of Swarovski Optik binoculars.
Rob Read comments further “Year Four of this competition proved to be a real milestone, with more than double the number of entrants, images and countries represented compared to our first year. The Competition has real global reach as demonstrated by the number of different nations represented by the winners.”
And Bird Photographer of the Year is set to become even bigger; the BPOTY team have been working tirelessly on the preparations for the forthcoming 2020 Competition which is open for entries until 30 November 2019. Rob goes on to say “We now have a new website which will become a useful resource for photographers, birders, naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts, centred on the competition itself. The core principles of promoting bird photography and the photographers themselves, while helping conservation through raising money and awareness, remain the bedrock of BPOTY. The new website will help us achieve these aims, using some of the world’s best bird imagery to inspire people to care.”
Money raised through previous years’ donations have been used by the British Trust for Ornithology to support their Bird Camp programme run in association with the Cameron Bespolka Trust, aimed at encouraging the next generation of conservationists. For 2019, in addition to raising money for Birdfair through the Inspirational Encounters Award, Bird Photographer of the Year has chosen to support Hookpod, an innovative solution that has the potential to eliminate the unnecessary deaths of albatrosses and other seabirds killed as a result of longline fishing. Founding Director of Bird Photographer of the Year Paul Sterry comments “BPOTY is delighted to have raised funds to help support such worthwhile causes. For 2020 and future years, we will be establishing a BPOTY Conservation Fund, through which we will assist other conservation projects such as Hookpod, where modest donations can have a real and lasting impact on our bird populations.”
This year’s award ceremony will take place at The British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water on Saturday 17th August, where Head Judge, Chris Packham, will hand out the well-deserved prizes in the main events marquee at 4.00pm.
The competition book, published by William Collins, is now available. This lavish 256 page volume showcases the very best imagery from the competition and features the stories behind the images as told by the photographers themselves, plus all the technical camera information. RRP £25.
The 2020 competition is open for entries from 18th August 2019, closing on 30 November 2019. With prizes worth well over £20,000, there are plenty of chances to win, including binoculars from Swarovski Optik, a camera system from Olympus, gimbal tripod heads from Gitzo – not forgetting the top prize of £5,000!. Enter here.