The European Wildlife Photographer of the Year has announced the winners of its 2023 contest. This year’s overall winner is Spanish photographer Javier Aznar González de Rueda for his image of a stinkbug’s maternal behavior. Congrats, Javier, you’ve made me hate stinkbugs just a tad less! Of course, there are other gorgeous photos among category winners, and we bring you the selection and a bit more about this year’s contest.
The German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) received nearly 18,000 entries from 42 countries for this year’s contest. Other than the overall winner, it also recognizes the winners in the following categories:
- Other Animals
- Plants and Fungi
- Underwater World
- Man and Nature
- Nature’s Studio
- Young Photographers
(age groups: a) up to 14 years, b) 15 – 17 years)
- Rewilding Europe Award (focuses on rewilding achievements in photography)
- Fritz Pölking Prize (a photo story competition dedicated to nature photo stories and portfolios)
- Fritz Pölking Junior Prize (for younger photographers),
Javier spent over two weeks observing the stinkbug’s maternal care, noting the female bug’s protective stance over both its eggs and the newly emerged larvae. “Maternal care significantly increases an offspring’s chances of survival,” the photographer notes. “In Ecuador’s rainforest, juvenile stink bugs are vulnerable to predators. This is a highly complex ecosystem with countless organisms in a vast interconnected web of life.”
Jury member Mark Littlejohn emphasized the emotional depth of the winning image. He remarked, “The beautiful photograph by Javier is about unconditional love. This aspect was crucial to the decision by the jury.”
As I mentioned, this year’s contest also saw winners in different categories. Young photographers showcased their talents, with nine-year-old Alberto Román Gómez from Spain winning the category for young photographers 14 years and under. GDT member Luca Lorenz from Germany won first place among the junior talents between 15 and 17 years of age.
As part of this year’s European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, there were also two special prizes. One is the Rewilding Europe Award to honor outstanding achievements in photography, focusing on rewilding. It was organized in cooperation with the organization Rewilding Europe for the second time. GDT member Tobias Richter was awarded first prize for his image Wolves on the hunt.
The second special category is the Fritz Pölking Prize, awarded annually since 2007 in cooperation with Tecklenborg Verlag. It’s a photo story competition dedicated to nature photo stories and portfolios. With A fragile refuge for forest elephants, the Dutch photographer Jasper Doest won this special prize. Jasper’s story is a powerful reminder that even when direct human impact is minimal, plant and animal communities are not immune to the insidious consequences of the Anthropocene.
The Fritz Pölking Junior Prize was awarded to Mateusz Piesiak from Poland. His creative portfolio Sunflower paradise impressed the jury and brought him first place.
The awards ceremony was a prominent event at the GDT International Nature Photography Festival on October 27, 2023. Fans of nature photography can view the award-winning images during an exhibition tour, beginning at Deutsches Pferdemuseum in Verden on December 7, 2023. Of course, you can also take a look at the category winners below and check out the full gallery on GDT’s website.