By Lauren Casserly
M Shed was host to Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 alongside the Natural History Museum in London. With one-hundred transfixing images, I found the wildlife photography exhibition stunning, thought-provoking and I want to share both the photos and those thoughts with you.
Vergard Lødøen took years to find the perfect riverside frequented by the deers of Valldal to capture this image of the deer. The image is captivating with the male deer staring towards the viewer and the beautiful background of a starry night filled with falling snow. This was the first photo I saw that really made me stop and stare. Absolutely beautiful isn’t it? I love the choice to half-submerge the camera.
The photo of the Lounging Leopard was taken moments before the female leopard dozed off. I found that this photo made me feel calm and maybe weirdly I also felt like going home, grabbing my pets and just giving them a hug.
These are just two of the photos that grabbed my attention, but they are the ones that I felt were most beautiful. It amazes me the amount of talent I saw in one room from all ages.
Deforestation, illegal hunting and pollution are very present problems in the environment. Another aspect of this exhibition is to shed light on these matters and their effects on wildlife.
The Sad Clown won Joan De La Malla the Wildlife Photojournalism title and shows a macaque in the “Topeng Monyet” practice, this translates to “monkey with mask”. This horrifying image inspired a lot of shock and sorrow in me, that these poor creatures are forced to be entertainment for people. I felt so angry that practices like this are still happening around the world with all kind of animals. Surely in this day and age, we should know better and be better? There is an organisation called Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) that have worked hard to place a ban on the practice and have started confiscating and rehabilitating the macaques. It was a relief to find out that there is an organisation actively working against this and succeeding.
The image Life Among Litter shows a Frogfish amongst plastics within its habitat. It is harder for the Frogfish to hide amongst natural shelters such as seaweed as it hunts due to plastic pollution. This photo represents just a tiny fraction of the 12.7 million tonnes of plastic per year that is disposed of into the ocean. Macro and microplastics are a major problem in the environment today and are having a severe effect on marine and terrestrial wildlife. Plastics can harm and kill animals through entanglement, ingestion, and interaction. The very oceans we find so beautiful and that hold so many amazing creatures are being taken over by our own waste products. Seeing this fish swimming amongst that and knowing there is worse out there makes me angry at myself as I know I’m not perfect. I use face wipes, I sometimes put plastic in the black bin and I can’t help but feel I’m failing the world. These are the thoughts and emotions this image by Greg Lecoeur has provoked in me. What about you?
These are just a few of the photos and they have had a big impact on me. Whether through statements about us or by just showing us the beauty still out there. I’m already looking forward to next year’s exhibition and what these talented photographers have yet to show us.