3 Nat Geo Wildlife Award Winners

Wildlife photography has to be a passion, otherwise a photograph becomes just a picture. The discriminating eye behind the lens capturing the subject is more critical than the equipment or even the object of attention. Why? Because it’s an experiential and critical component to a loop of value that cannot be broken. Seeing, experiencing and sensing the spectacular or unusual, all come from the person behind the camera.

The world is filled with the “spectacular and unusual”, but not with the talent it takes to preserve the image of such far beyond and into posterity. Those individuals are a rarity and don’t necessarily need roadside assistance when stuck in the dessert or mountain top aiming to get a shot of a lifetime.

National Geographic has been the premier source of jaw dropping wildlife photography for the past 127 years. It is top notch, respected and in a class all by itself. That is why I wanted to pay homage to a few of the great wildlife photographers who have brought us images of our world through this iconic publication. To sift through all the outstanding photographs within just the past couple of years has been a huge challenge. Narrowing down even just three wildlife photographers to highlight in this post was an overwhelming task. Here are just a few of my favorites – if in fact it’s possible to have just a few.

Daniela Deutzer
Winning NG Nature Photographer of the Year 2016, Leopard with Kill in a Tree, was taken in Kruger National Park. Patience paid off when having discovered this beautiful wild cat with its midday meal too hidden in the tree branches to get a good shot.

We drove along a short gravel road in Kruger National Park this year until we saw a few cars standing under a tree next to a dry riverbed. When we arrived there, we could see a leopard with a small antilope sitting in a tree. There were a lot of branches in front of his face, so taking a good picture wasn't possible. We stood there for about an hour watching the big cat eating and moving his kill every now and then until we had the perfect position for this shot!

Deutzer waited for over an hour as the Leopard shifted its dining area from one limb to another finally exposing one of those spot on, photographs every wildlife photo pro looks for. Daniela has the talent to display emotion and beauty through her photographs no matter where she shoots, but her canvas of choice is Africa.

Matthew Smith
If there is one attribute every wildlife photographer must share it is patience. It is mentioned when describing every successful photographic rendition of Mother Nature. The lighting, air quality, time of year, along with the persistence and endurance of the would be award winning photo master are all important components to getting that shot.

The alien-looking southern calamari squid is native to Australian and New Zealand coastlines. Its dot painting-like skin patterns are reminiscent of ancient Aboriginal paintings. It took me several weeks of night dives and patience to achieve this unique portrait: when I shot this frame I was elated!!

Matthew Smith also awarded National Geographic Nature Photographer of the year 2016 took weeks of night diving to finally secure this otherworldly picture of an innocent southern calamari squid.

Kathryn Cooper
Red Fox won Ms. Cooper the coveted NG Nature Photographer of the Year 2016 after watching the little female struggle in a battle for her life with another fox. Located in the serene Swiss Alps among the spring snow thaws and budding flowers, the image clearly tells another story through the eyes of the beautiful, but somewhat beat up red fox. As Cooper tells it; she decided to withhold other photos that showed a few more battle wounds and let the story be told with this single shot.

Itís easy to romanticise the idilic alpine meadows of the Swiss Alps in spring, glowing with dandelions and ringing with the chimes of cow bells. This fox tells a different story of much harder times. I fired off a few shots showing the fresh wounds of her struggle to survive. I chose to keep these hidden from you and let her eyes do the talking.
This has been an impossible task to bring you just three outstanding, award winning artists in a short post. Look for more articles showcasing the exceptional, brilliant work of wildlife photography-art from around the world. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. In the meantime for all to remember:

If you have a particular wildlife photographer you’d like me to write about, leave me information and I will be in touch