Wednesday 20 January 2010

Wildlife Photographer of the Year loses crown

After weeks of speculation the WPOTY crew have made an announcement, A very sad day for the worlds premier wildlife comp

Links here and here



  1. Yes, a dark day indeed.

    Tough decision to make, but for me the right one based on what I've seen.

    Bit surprised and sad for other entrants to learn that there can be no successor to the WPOTY crown for 2009. For many their dedication, reputation and livelihood is focussed around success in this prestigious competition and for 2009 their opportunity has been dashed. Sadly, it appears we will never now know the true winning image.

    This matters because the disqualification has occurred AFTER the media announcement, the book published, and the exhibition launched. To me there is a void in the 2009 competition, which there shouldn't be because there are are other images worthy of the overall winner.

    Authenticity will always be a risk by its nature. Improved planning to reduce this risk would be welcomed, however I for one support the notion that for the continued reputation of WPOTY that procedures are in place to appoint an overall winner. If they cannot appoint one of the other category winners, they must think laterally and find a mechanism to ensure that a winner is crowned every year. Perhaps there could be a public on-line vote (with controls for multiple voting) for the people's favourite from a shortlist. This could double as a back-up winner if a disqualification. Or perhaps if policing is a nightmare WPOTY open up a couple of categories for High Risk images, where there could be a winner but the authenticity cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Whilst we're at it why not a separate category should be for "Photographer not present" - a separate debate well aired last year to deal with camera traps and last year's winner (which wasn't my choice).

    I am hopeful that WPOTY organisers are seriously planning this through to minimise this increasing risk and come up with a back-up plan that ensures that there is always an overall winner each and every year. IMHO to fail to address these challenges will increasingly risk the reputation of this highly regarded competition and the integrity of all those who reputations and livelihoods depend on this enriching sector of photography.

    I hope that WPOTY will rise to the challenge and reassure us all that the show must go on whatever the weather!

    Thumbs up for taking the right decision, thumbs down for no credible back-up plan!

    What do others think and do you agree with the idea that this is the type of competition that needs to have an undisputed winner each and every year?

    Best regards

  2. Hi Julian
    I totally agree with you in all aspects, There should be an overall winner whatever happens-Who gets the 10K,Many worthy winners to pick from, I am glad that they had the balls to stand up and admit that the image was a set up, The photographer inquestion has cut his own throat here,I have made a few blogs about being straight in everything you do in photography and this is one case that shows that lying/cheating dont pay, The photographer in question says that he is innocent-well that should be easy to prove, I dont think that the judges would disqualify him without good and strong reason


  3. Absolutely Dave!

    In all good faith the Panel really didn't expect to be caught out like this. There are some well respected names associated with WPOTY - they have already learned from this and will make every effort to avoid a repeat, have a back-up plan and I hope the Competition brushes this off and goes from strength to strength. IMHO there were better images worthy of the title, and largely every image was of an admirable standard. Their decision will fire a strong signal to all those tempted to cheat, and AFAI am concerned should spur all entrants and followers to strive to support this quality spectacle of wildlife images. I hope WPOTY goes from strength to strength and for all those that can meet the high standard of requirements the 2010 comp is now open for entries till 5 March. I for one will expect the high std to continue as there are countless honest and ethical wildlife photographers out there that have the passion to be able to dedicate inordinate amounts of time and effort for the elusive image that will stand out, and for their passion to be rewarded.

    I guess the old maxim "no gain without pain" is relevant here as it is in any competition where success is largely down to practice, practice (and a bit of luck occasionally....).

    Let's look forward to those awe inspiring images which are a direct result of the photographer's skill, fieldcraft and the judgement/luck to be in the right place at the right time.

    Roll on WPOTY 2010 - a new decade for wildlife photography.

    BTW - excellent blog Dave and Martin - keep up the work - your experiences and images are truly inspirational and educational - well done and long may it continue!

    Best wishes

  4. Many thanks for your kind words Julian - they are much appreciated

    It is great to get the interaction and feedback from our readers, and we certainly appreciate your recent lengthy well considered and written responses

    Keep 'em coming