Wildlife Photographer of the Year never fails to impress us with awe-inspiring photos of flora and fauna, both above and below water, even up in the sky. And this year, a swarm of tiny creatures won the big prize.
Photographer Karine Aigner has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022. Her image shows a buzzing ball of cactus bees spinning over the hot sand on a Texas ranch. Taken at the bee level, it depicts the behavior of these creatures, but also reminds us of how important it is to protect them.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. It’s now in its fifty-eight-year, and Karine is only the fifth woman to be awarded the Grand Title award. Her image impressed the judges both with its technical quality and the story behind it.
In the photo, all the bees except one are males. They are intent on mating with the single female, which is at the center of this buzzing ball. And just like most bees, they are threatened by habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change, as well as farming practices that disrupt their nesting grounds. This amazing photo didn’t only bring Karine the main prize, but also the win in the Behaviour: Invertebrates category.
Chair of the jury, writer and editor Rosamund “Roz” Kidman Cox OBE said:
“Wings-whirring, incoming males home in on the ball of buzzing bees that is rolling straight into the picture. The sense of movement and intensity is shown at bee-level magnification and transforms what are little cactus bees into big competitors for a single female.”
The contest also recognizes the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year. And for 2022, the winner is sixteen-year-old Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn from Thailand with his creative image, The beauty of baleen. A keen naturalist and a photographer since he was 12, this photo is Katanyou’s first award in the annual competition.
When a Bryde’s whale surfaced close to the boat, Katanyou was intrigued by the contrasting colours and textures of its dark skin, pink gum and the brush-like mass of baleen hanging down from its top jaw. Like other baleen whales, Bryde’s use a technique known as lunge-feeding to capture large numbers of small schooling fish and use the plates of baleen to filter the small prey from the ocean.
“Out of the jaws of a Bryde’s whale comes this dazzling creation. The pin-sharp detail of the tiny anchovies is set against an abstraction of colour with the weave of brown baleen hair rimmed by a cascade of water drops,” said Rosamund “Roz” Kidman Cox OBE.
It wasn’t an easy task at all for the judges to choose the winner. The two Grand Title winners were selected from 19 category winners, which had previously been selected among 38,575 entries from 93 countries. The photos were judged anonymously and the jury accounted for their originality, narrative, technical excellence, and ethical practice.
All of the winning photos will be exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London from 14 October 2022 until 2 July 2023. The exhibition will tour across the UK and internationally to venues in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, the USA, and more.
Take a look at more category winners below, and make sure to visit Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s website to see the full gallery and learn more details about the contest and the upcoming exhibition.