Review: Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum
A firm favourite on the Natural History Museum’s calendar, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is a showcase for the world’s best nature photography. In 2019, over 45,000 submissions were made for the competition, so we sent Bethan Kapur along to see the top 100.
In two dark rooms, this exhibition takes you around the world, under the sea and across the desert.
Creatures are immortalised in action, their stories written in the description underneath. When it comes to animal behaviour, common themes are food, sex and danger. Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 reveals unusual situations created by these motivations, some of which have never been seen before.
The most beautiful photographs often depict brutality: a ground finch in the Galapagos resorts to drinking the blood of a larger bird, due to food shortages; in another photo, wild puppies play with a baboon’s head. As the photographer Nicholas Dyer says: ‘half of me felt disturbed by the disrespect this deceased primate was receiving, the other half was caught up in the infectious joy of the puppies’.
The camera also allows you to see things that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. You can peer into the ocean after dark, count the hairs on a treehopper’s legs and stare into the eyes of a restful leopard as they twinkle in the sunlight.
It is clear that many of these photographers had a message to convey. In one photo, a digger is dragging the tail of a dead sperm whale that was stranded on the UK coast. You can only see the tail, but the fact that you can guess what is being shown proves that this isn’t that rare, making it more tragic.
The overall winner is this pair of endangered golden snub-nosed monkeys, taken in China’s Qinling Mountains: The Golden Couple. Like all wildlife, their beauty is as undeniable as their vulnerability.
The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Rd, SW7 5BD
Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition adult £13.50, child £8
020 7942 5000 | www.nhm.ac.uk
Read about the top free London museums here
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