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...

Books

by Caroline Crampton • Granta Books • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Alastair Humphreys • Harper Collins • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Ben Aitken • Icon Books • £12.99 (paperback)

Books

by Edward O Wilson • Allen Lane • £17.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Eimer • Bloomsbury • £20 (hardback)

Films

The uplifting story of a remarkable man who sailed the…

Books

by John Higgs • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £20/£11 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Lewis Dartnell • Bodley Head • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Richard Williams • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by Nicholas Jubber • John Murray Press • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Rob Dunn • Basic Books • £22.99 (hardback)

Books

by Edward Davey • Unbound • £9.99 (paperback)

Exhibitions

From July 2019 to February 2020, the Oxford University Natural…

Books

by Stephen Smith • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Barrie • Hodder & Stoughton • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Juliet Blaxland • Sandstone Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Bill McKibben • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Exhibitions

A new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery flies forward 100…

Exhibitions

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