Find your inner ‘David’ – wildlife photography that inspires

Described as ‘one of the pinnacles of wildlife conservation photography’, Wildlife Photographer of the Year comes to the Maritime Museum in Sydney.

Did you grow up on a diet of awe-inspiring nature imagery from David Attenborough? There is a whole fraternity of photographers globally who share his passion for capturing our natural world – its strengths and its fragilities.

Indeed, over 100 stunning images from the 58th Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition (WPY58) have now come to the Australian National Maritime Museum (Maritime Museum), on loan from the Natural History Museum in London.

The world-renowned exhibition opened 1 April, and tells ‘the story of a planet under pressure,’ says Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum London.

That collective passion to educate and protect was reflected in the 38,575 entries received this year, reaching across 93 countries. The competition has come a long way since it was launched in 1965 with just 365 entrants.

As the Maritime Museum Director, Daryl Karp, says, ‘The WPY58 from the National Museum in London is an extraordinary showcase of wildlife conservation photography.’

Karp says she is also intrigued by and passionate about the natural world, adding, ‘I’m always inspired and moved by the impact these images have both on me and our many visitors. I’m in awe of the talent, tenacity and instincts of nature photographers of this calibre, who go above and beyond for the perfect shot.’

The finalists were judged on criteria including originality, narrative, technical excellence and ethical practice. Among the selected works are a number from Australian photographers, including Up a gum tree by Callum Hockey, Double interest by Scott Portelli, The snake tree by Juergen Freund and Wombat lockdown by Douglas Gimesy, placing our unique natural world in a global context.

‘The snake tree’ by Juergen Freund, Highly Commended, Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles, in ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ 58. Image courtesy the artist.

Award-winning Conservation Wildlife Photographer, Juergen Freund tells ArtsHub,: ‘I had the privilege of photographing The snake tree during an assignment for the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF South Pacific) in Fiji’s Great Sea Reef. This remarkable species of highly venomous sea kraits holds great significance as the islanders’ totem. They evoke both fear and reverence, deeply intertwined within the cultural fabric of the Fijians from Macuata.’

Freund’s photograph, The snake tree, was Highly Commended. Karp says, ‘This exhibition gives us an insight into the hidden lives of these creatures and habitats that have often been affected by human activity.’

Freund is an 11-time winner of the WPY for his images that capture two worlds in a single frame. He will be teaching a photography masterclass on the split worlds of underwater and above-water environments at the Australian National Maritime Museum on Wednesday 28 June.

This Museum is garnering a reputation for featuring extraordinary photography, with some exciting upcoming exhibitions at its Darling Harbour location in Sydney.

The popularity of signature exhibitions, like the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, has made London’s Natural History Museum the most visited indoor attraction in the UK last year.

It is considered one of the world’s greatest institutions, in that it educates through exhibitions, while also housing 350 scientists in a dedicated research centre, working to find solutions to the planetary emergency.

Partnering with the Australian National Maritime Museum signals a shared professional vision to connect audiences and new knowledge, while inspiring and informing. This year’s exhibition will do exactly that – empower and advocate for the natural world.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opened at the Australian National Maritime Museum on 1 April and runs until October.

The Australian National Maritime Museum is the exclusive Sydney venue for the exhibition.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opened at the Australian National Maritime Museum on 1 April and runs until October.

The Australian National Maritime Museum is the exclusive Sydney venue for the exhibition.

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina