2013 has without a doubt been my best year photographically. In short, I won an overall, runner up, two category wins, had my photo used for the front cover of a calendar and had the opportunity to go to many events and meet many great people! Also, I’d like to add I wouldn’t necessarily say these are my best photos of the year, just the photos that highlight 2013.
My first trip in 2013 included skipping school (they thought I was Ill, muhaha!) for the day to see three new bird species for the first time; Bearded tit, Waxwing and Short eared Owl. I had a very strict timetable as all the birds were in different locations around London and I managed to see all the birds in one day!
January was also when my ‘friendship’ with Caspian really began. I’d met him several times in December but it wasn’t until January that he would recognise my call from the other side of the street and would happily walk right up to me. The reason I call it a ‘friendship’ is because he didn’t trust others – he’d run every time someone walked by. This was taken on my driveway; my front door is about a metre or two away!
In February I photographed Bitterns for the first time and I’d like to thank Oscar Dewhurst for his awesome birding skills. Half the time I thought I was just looking at reeds!
In February I created a Facebook group called ‘Young Wildlife Photographers’ and we had our first meet up in March. It was a pleasure to meet people with the same interest and since then we’ve become good friends! The heron below was published by MSN and was also shortlisted in the BWPA. It reached the final 25 but unfortunately was not awarded in the competition.
In March I also became a member of A Focus On Nature (AFON) a fantastic scheme encouraging youngsters to get involved with the natural world and conservation. I was awarded with a pair of Discover binoculars courtesy of Opticron and was mentored by Rob Lambert and Ed Drewitt.
In April I discovered I had 4 photographs shortlisted in the third round of judging in the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year, but again I did not get anywhere further in this contest.
In May I focused on my local pond and the young waterfowl including the Mute swan cygnets.
One of my cygnet photographs (below) also won the Overall Runner Up in the YMCA Photography Awards 2013!
In June I continued to photograph the cygnets. They hatched later than usual and so were still very small in June.
Unfortunately in June Caspian who had caught mange a month or so ago, disappeared. I highly suspect he died which is a real shame, each evening I gave him medicine and contacted several rescues but unfortunately they would not take him in.
In July I bought my new camera, the Canon 5D Mark 3 and also the 24-105mm. I also skipped a week of school (again, I was ‘ill’!) and visited The Farne Islands, Bass Rock and Northumberland and photographed a great range of new birds and mammals. I wrote a mammoth of a blog and also made a video if you’d like to see photographs but here are a few of my favourites.
In August I went on a family holiday to Cyprus and photographed more dogs than wildlife! When I returned, I went to BirdFair in Rutland for the first time (thanks to AFON!) and enjoyed many talks and lectures.
On my 18th birthday on the 20th September I went to London Zoo for the ZSL Photography awards. I had four photos blown to full size and won a category and had three highly commended. My winning photo was also made into postcards and a mini jigsaw. All my photos also featured in the competition’s book. I was thrilled and thought this was the highlight of my year...
My photo had also been chosen to be the front cover of the Friends of Richmond Park 2014 calendar. Huge thank you to Mary Pollard and all others associated with FRP!
In October thanks to AFON (again!) I won a full weekend ticket to WildPhotos, a two day event of wildlife photography talks. At WildPhotos I met the manager of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Gemma Ward, fortunately I had my Ipad on me and showed her the photos that were shortlisted. Gemma said not many young photographers get more than one or two images shortlisted each year, so I was pretty chuffed to have four! Gemma also very kindly invited me to the awards ceremony. And wow, what an event. The night was fantastic; breath-taking photos and a great atmosphere with the Diplodocus dinosaur in between all the tables!
I also visited Richmond Park on several mornings for the Red deer rut. I spent more time filming the deer rather than photographing them and I created my first short film. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frLWhL5Qcjo
In December, I traveled down to Poole to help with a school birding event. Birds of Poole Harbour, a charity dedicated to educating people on the natural world and AFON took around 50 school children on a boat ride around Brownsea Island. I saw so many new bird species and also photographed this Great Northern Diver. Thank you again to AFON and also BoPH!
On the 19th December to complete the year, I attended the RSPCA awards ceremony at the Tower of London hosted by Chris Packham. I was slightly suspicious but not very hopeful but I won the Overall Young RSPCA Photographer Awards and the 16-18 year old category! This had to be the highlight of the year. My two trophies sit proudly on my desk.
Here's the photo that won Overall, titled 'Bokeh Heron'
At this rate, I probably should buy a trophy cabinet! I’m joking of course! Now that I’m 18 years old, I can no longer enter the young photography competitions but it is only more encouraging to capture a photograph no one has ever seen before!
I will be concentrating on A Levels this year but in July I finish school completely! From August to September I'm going to Australia for three weeks and then New Zealand for 2 weeks. In September my gap year before University will begin and I will be traveling however I am undecided on where to go!
And thanks for reading!