“The Golden Horseshoe”: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 and Winner, Portfolio Award by Laurent Ballesta
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition has announced the 2023 winning images at an awards ceremony in London. The winners were selected from almost 50,000 entries from 95 countries. Not only was the overall winner an underwater image, but it is the second time the photographer, Laurent Ballesta, has been crowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The winning shot, called “The Golden Horseshoe,” is an arresting image of a tri-spine horseshoe crab with an entourage of golden trevallies, captured off Pangatalan Island, Palawan, in the Philippines. Laurent used a Nikon D5 and a 13mm f/2.8 lens in a Seacam housing with Seacam strobes.
“To see a horseshoe crab so vibrantly alive in its natural habitat, in such a hauntingly beautiful way, was astonishing,” said Kathy Moran, chair of the jury and editor. “We are looking at an ancient species, highly endangered, and also critical to human health. This photo is luminescent.” Tachypleus tridentatus, a species of horseshoe crab found in Southeast and East Asia, has been around for over 100 million years, but it is now under threat from overfishing and habitat destruction.
Ballesta—a DPG Photographer of the Week—is only the second photographer in the competition’s 59-year history to be awarded the grand title award twice. The Frenchman was first awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2021 for his “explosive” image of camouflage groupers emerging from a cloud of eggs and sperm, photographed off Fakarava Atoll in French Polynesia.
The winner in the Underwater category was “Hippo Nursery” by Mike Korostelev from Russia. The image, which was shot in Kosi Bay in South Africa’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park, reveals a hippopotamus and her two offspring resting in a shallow clear-water lake. Mike visited the lake for over two years and the hippos were accustomed to his boat. Still, he spent just 20 seconds underwater with the animals, just enough time to get his image from a safe distance and to avoid alarming the mother.
Congratulations to all the winners! Check them out here.
The Golden Horseshoe: Laurent Ballesta Wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 for the Second Time
Selected from 49,957 entries from 95 countries, the winners of the Natural History Museum's prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were revealed at an awards ceremony in South Kensington today.
The flagship Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition featuring the awarded images will open on Friday 13 October 2023 at the Natural History Museum in London.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023
French underwater photographer and marine biologist Laurent Ballesta was awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 for ‘The golden horseshoe’, an otherworldly image of a tri-spine horseshoe crab accompanied by a trio of golden trevallies.
The tri-spine horseshoe crab has survived for more than 100 million years but now faces habitat destruction and overfishing for food and for its blue blood, used in the development of vaccines. But, in the protected waters of Pangatalan Island in the Philippines, there is hope for its survival.
Chair of the jury and editor, Kathy Moran says, ‘To see a horseshoe crab so vibrantly alive in its natural habitat, in such a hauntingly beautiful way, was astonishing. We are looking at an ancient species, highly endangered, and also critical to human health. This photo is luminescent.’
Laurent is only the second photographer in the competition’s fifty-nine-year history to be awarded the Grand Title award twice. He was first awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2021 for his intriguing image of camouflage groupers exiting a milky cloud of eggs and sperm in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
“Shore Move”: Winner, Portfolio Award by Laurent Ballesta
“Below Deck”: Winner, Portfolio Award by Laurent Ballesta
“Shell Life”: Winner, Portfolio Award by Laurent Ballesta
“View Point”: Winner, Portfolio Award by Laurent Ballesta
“The Perfect Fit”: Winner, Portfolio Award by Laurent Ballesta
Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023
Seventeen-year-old Carmel Bechler from Israel was awarded Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 for his ‘Owls’ road house’, a dynamic frame of barn owls in an abandoned roadside building. Using the family car as hide, Carmel made the most of natural light and long exposure times to capture the light trails of passing traffic.
Carmel was just 11 years old when he began wildlife photography, and this is his first award in the annual competition. ‘I hope to share with my photography that the beauty of the natural world is all around us, even in places where we least expect it to be, we just need to open our eyes and our minds,’ says Carmel.
‘This photograph has so many layers in terms of content and composition. It simultaneously screams “habitat destruction” and “adaptation”, begging the question: If wildlife can adapt to our environment, why can’t we respect theirs?,’ says Kathy Moran.
Catalyst for change
The two Grand Title winners were selected from 19 astounding category winners that showcase the rich diversity of life on Earth. In an intensive process, each entry was judged anonymously by an international panel of experts on its originality, narrative, technical excellence, and ethical practice.
Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum comments, ‘Whilst inspiring absolute awe and wonder, this year’s winning images present compelling evidence of our impact on nature – both positive and negative. Global promises must shift to action to turn the tide on nature’s decline.’
The newly redesigned exhibition also features videos showing the impact wildlife photography can have, and insights from jury members, photographers and Museum scientists to invite visitors to advocate for the natural world. The journey continues online with planet-positive actions audiences can take. The exhibition will tour across the UK and internationally to venues in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, and more.
Exhibition at Natural History Museum, London
- Opens Friday 13 October 2023 and closes Sunday 30 June 2024.
- The exhibition is open Monday – Sunday, 10.00–17.50 (last admission at 16.30), and weekends sell out quickly.
- Adult tickets from £17.50*, concession tickets £14.00*, and child £10.50*. Off-peak Ault tickets from £15.00, off-peak concession ticket £12.00, and off-peak child ticket £9.00 (*Prices excluding optional Gift Aid donation to the Museum.)
- Get behind the lens of some of the world's best wildlife photographers with a new Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition tour: www.nhm.ac.uk/events/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year-tour
- Book your tickets: www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year
Sixtieth Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition
- Opens for entries on Monday 16 October 2023.
- Closing for entries at 11.30am GMT on Thursday 7 December 2023.
- Entrants to the adult competition may enter up to 25 images for a £30 fee, which increases to £35 in the final week of the entry period from 11.30am GMT 30 November to 11.30am GMT 7 December 2023.
- An entry fee waiver has been introduced for photographers entering the adult competition who live in Africa, Southeast Asia and Central and South America.
- Entrants aged 17 and under may enter up to 10 images for free.
- Find out how to enter: www.nhm.ac.uk/wpy/competition
Winner 2023, Underwater by Mike Korostelev
Highly Commended 2023, Underwater by Isaac Szabo
Highly Commended 2023, Underwater by Alex Mustard
Highly Commended 2023, Underwater by Jorgen Rasmussen
Highly Commended 2023, Underwater by Philip Hamilton
Winner 2023, Behaviour: Mammals by Bertie Gregory
Winner 2023, Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles by Juan Jesús Gonzalez Ahumada
Winner 2023, Oceans – The Bigger Picture by Lennart Verheuvel
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