Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018

Golden snub-nosed monkeys, China Golden snub-nosed monkeys, China Marcel van Oosten
18 Oct
2018
Annual photography competition at the Natural History Museum celebrates the enigmatic faces of the animal kingdom, as demonstrated by Marcel van Oosten’s golden snub-nosed monkeys

At the risk of excessively anthropomorphising our non-human planetary co-inhabitants, there is something decidedly appealing about looking into the faces of wildlife and attempting to interpret what their facial expressions reveal about their thoughts, their mood, their emotions. Such a practice forms the backbone of much of the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 exhibition.

Firstly, the exhibition’s most prestigious award – ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ – was given to Marcel van Oosten for his image ‘The Golden Couple’, featuring a pair of golden snub-nosed monkeys in China’s Qinling Mountains. With thousand-yard stares accompanied by hierarchical poses reminiscent of old Victorian family portraits, the facial expressions of these monkeys - as well as being strikingly beautiful for their vibrant colours - also come across as hauntingly human. In granting Van Oosten the top prize, the judges noted that, with their remarkable, Instagram-ready poses, it is hard to keep in mind that these are wild animals, not trained models.

leopardA leopard (Mathoja) in Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana (Image: Skye Meaker)

Additionally, the ‘Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year’, Skye Meaker, was given his award for his intimate portrait of a leopard (named Mathoja) dozing beneath a nyala tree in Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.

With a literal glint in her eye from the sun piercing through the branches, the image offers us rare look at an animal whose face, like most of her body, has evolved to be hidden, to not give anything away. The pensive expression of a half-awake animal still processing their thoughts post-slumber will perhaps be a feeling not unfamiliar to exhibition attendees.

Several other winners across the final 98 images (chosen from over 45,000 entries) offer the same magnetic attraction towards facial features. The sad but resigned face of a mountain gorilla clutching the limp body of her dead infant is particularly poignant, as photographed by Ricardo Núñez Montero, winner of the ‘Behaviour: Mammals’ category. The mother stares straight at the baby but her eyes appear glazed over, in the manner of someone unable to let go emotionally (or physically).

One image in Alejandro Prieto’s collection of jaguar threats and conservation efforts in the Sierra de Vallejo, Mexico - winner of the ‘Wildlife Photojournalist Award’ - captures the intense stare of a jaguar looking directly upwards into the camera as it scratches a tree. Additionally, Javier Aznar González de Rueda captures in remarkable detail the faces of insects in Napo, Ecuador, as a treehopper guards her feeding family from potential attackers. His collection won the ‘Wildlife Photographer Portfolio Award’.

By no means are the images selected this year all about the facial features of our fellow fauna. But an inadvertent focus on portraiture gives this year’s collection a subtly intimate edge.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 exhibition is on display at the Natural History Museum from Friday 19 October 2018 until summer 2019. Adults £13.50, children £8, concessions £10.50. Free for NHM members. For more information visit nhm.ac.uk/wpy

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

From 12 July through to 10 November, the Fondation Cartier…

Reviews

A relaxed podcast, in which actor David Oakes interviews professionals…

Exhibitions

Exploring ideas of identity, heritage and life after trauma, Bahith…

Books

by Alex Rogers • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Films

An ‘environmental thriller’ focusing on the lives of campaigners working…

Exhibitions

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is open to visitors…

Films

In this moving, sometimes harrowing film from director Anthony Woodley,…

Films

A brutal, hard-hitting coming-of-age tale that doesn’t hold its punches

Books

by Peter Martell • Hurst • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Dan Richards • Canongate • £19.99 (paperback)

Books

by Jeremy Purseglove • Profile Books • £14.99 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Peter Hessler • Profile Books • £25 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard • Little, Brown • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Robert Macfarlane • Hamish Hamilton • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Exhibitions

An exhibition at the V&A brings together innovations from across…

Books

Dead in the Water edited by Bruce Shoemakers and William…

Films

A brutally realistic film about a cruel and pointless confrontation

Books

by Mike Berners-Lee • Cambridge University Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Films

In our attempt to control the natural world, humans have…

Books

by Sudipta Sen • Yale University Press • £20 (hardback)