Winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 Announced
Selected from 49,957 entries from 95 countries, the winners of the Natural History Museum’s prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were revealed at an awards ceremony in South Kensington today.
The flagship Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition featuring the awarded images will open on Friday 13 October 2023 at the Natural History Museum in London.
French underwater photographer and marine biologist Laurent Ballesta was awarded 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.
The sixtieth Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition will open for entries from photographers of all ages, nationalities, and experience levels on Monday 16 October 2023.
Ahead of the momentous anniversary, Wildlife Photographer of the Year has announced the international jury of industry experts, an entry fee waiver for over 100 countries, changes to the competition’s rules, and a new prize to further encourage hopeful stories of the natural world.
Here are some of the other awarded images:
Animals in the Environment
Category Winner. Life on the edge by Amit Eshel, Israel.
Technical details: Canon EOS R5 + 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 45mm; 1/800 at f8; ISO 500.
Category Winner. Face of the forest by Vishnu Gopal, India.
Technical details: Nikon D850 + 14–24mm f2.8 lens at 14mm; 1/30 at f6.3; ISO 1600; torch.
Category Winner. Silence for the snake show by Hadrien Lalagüe, France.
Technical details: Canon EOS 100D + 10–20mm f4.5–5.6 lens at 11mm; 1/60 at f10; ISO 1600; 2x Nikon flashes; Panasonic PIR motion sensor; custom housing.
Cateogry Winner. Whales making waves by Bertie Gregory, UK.
Technical details: DJI Mavic 2 Pro + Hasselblad L1D-20c + 28mm f2.8 lens; 1/120 at f4; ISO 100.
Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles
Cateogry Winner. The tadpole banquet by Juan Jesús Gonzalez Ahumada, Spain.
Technical details: Canon EOS R6 + 100mm f2.8 lens; 1/80 at f5.6; ISO 320; ring flash.
Category Winner. Lights fantastic by Sriram Murali, India.
Technical details: Canon 6D + 24mm f1.4 lens; 19 sec at f2; multiple exposures; ISO 6400; cable release; Manfrotto tripod.
Category Winner. The art of courtship by Rachel Bigsby, UK.
Technical details: Nikon D850 + Sigma 60–600mm f4.5–6.3 lens; 1/1600 at f11; ISO 5000.
Oceans: The Bigger Picture
Category Winner. Last gasp by Lennart Verheuvel, the Netherlands.
Technical details: Canon EOS R5 + 100–500mm f4.5–7.1 lens at 100mm; 1/80 at f7.1; ISO 1250.
Plants and Fungi
Category Winner. Last breath of autumn by Agorastos Papatsanis, Greece.
Technical details: Nikon D810 + 105mm f2.8 lens; 1/40 at f36; ISO 500; Godox flash + trigger; Leofoto mini tripod.
Category Winner. Hippo nursery by Mike Korostelev, Russia.
Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 17–40mm f4 lens; 1/320 at f7.1; ISO 640; Seacam housing.
Category Winner. Birds of the midnight sun by Knut-Sverre Horn, Norway.
Technical details: Canon EOS R5 + 24–70mm lens at 42mm; 1/5000 at f8; ISO 100.
Category Winner. The dead river by Joan de la Malla, Spain.
Technical details: DJI Mavic 2 Pro + Hasselblad L1D-20c + 28mm f2.8 lens; 1/25 at f6.3; ISO 100.
Category Winner. The tourism bulldozer by Fernando Constantino Martínez Belmar, Mexico.
Technical details: DJI Mavic Mini 2 + 24mm f2.8 lens; 1/320 at f2.8; ISO 100.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. To see more of the awarded entries, visit the NHM website.