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Wildlife Photographer of the Year – winners announced

Laurent Ballesta, a French underwater photographer and biologist, was named the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his enigmatic image, Creation, which depicts camouflage groupers spawning in Fakarava, French Polynesia.

Laurent and his team returned to this lagoon every year for five years, diving day and night to avoid missing the annual event, which only occurs around the full moon in July.

Chair of the judging panel, writer and editor, Rosamund ‘Roz’ Kidman Cox OBE says, ‘The image works on so many levels. It is surprising, energetic, and intriguing and has an otherworldly beauty. It also captures a magical moment – a truly explosive creation of life – leaving the tail-end of the exodus of eggs hanging for a moment like a symbolic question mark.’


Dome home by Vidyun R Hebbar, India – Winner, 10 Years and Under

Vidyun R Hebbar (10) was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 for his colourful image of a tent spider as a tuk-tuk passes by. Vidyun entered the competition for the first time when he was eight years old, and enjoys photographing the often-overlooked creatures that live in the streets and parks near his home in Bengaluru, India.

Dr Natalie Cooper, a researcher with the Natural History Museum and jury member, says ‘The jury loved this photo from the beginning of the judging process. It is a great reminder to look more closely at the small animals we live with every day, and to take your camera with you everywhere. You never know where that award-winning image is going to come from.’


The intimate touch by Shane Kalyn, Canada – Winner, Behaviour: Birds

This year’s photographic competition received 50,000 submissions from all over the world. A panel of judges chose the winners for a number of categories at an awards ceremony held at the Natural History Museum and streamed live online.


Grizzly leftovers by Zack Clothier, USA Winner, Animals in their Environment

Three new categories were added to this year’s competition, including ‘Oceans – The Bigger Picture’ and ‘Wetlands – The Bigger Picture,’ to highlight the importance of these vital ecosystems.


Head to head by Stefano Unterthiner, Italy Winner, Behaviour: Mammals

Each entry was anonymously judged by a panel of experts for its originality, storytelling, technical excellence, and ethical approach during a thorough process before winners were selected.


Reflection by Majed Ali, Kuwait Winner, Animal Portraits

If you would like to see the 2021 shortlisted entries and winners, The Wildlife Photographer of the Year #WPY57 exhibition is open to visitors at the Natural History Museum until Sunday 5th June 2021.

Tickets must be booked in advance online and cost £17.25 for adults, £10.25 for children (under 4 free) with concessions £13.75. To book, go to –


Where the giant newts breed by João Rodrigues, Portugal Winner, Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles

Open to photographers of all ages, nationalities, and abilities, the next Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries on Monday 18th October 2021 and closes at 11.30am on Thursday 9th December 2021.

For information on how to enter go to


Cool time, from Land time for sea bears by Martin Gregus, Canada / Slovakia Winner, Rising Star Portfolio Award

Main image: Creation © Laurent Ballesta, France, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021, Grand Title Winner

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 31

This commemorative portfolio displays the gallery of all the 100 pictures awarded in the 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, together with the stories of what they reveal and how they were created. Representing the work of photographers worldwide, they illustrate both the beauty and drama of the natural world and our conflicted relationship with it. Chosen by an international panel of judges from around 50,000 entries, the images are the work of photographers from dozens of countries and represent a worldwide range of styles and ways of seeing nature.


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