Review: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 @ M-Shed


By Takashi Kitano, First Year Social and Cultural Theory

Each of the 100 images of wildlife photography at M-Shed take you to a virtual wonderland of natural species, offering an opportunity to recognise the diversity and rethink our relationship with the natural world.

Developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year has been showcasing thousands of photographs, capturing snapshot moments from nature across the world. In its 57th year, the exhibition is at M-Shed from 27 November until 5 June 2022. Student tickets are available too!

There are several sections in the room that roughly abide to the 19 categories in the competition, including Animal Portraits, Natural Artistry, Plants and Fungi, Aquatic World, Wetlands and Photojournalism. Venturing out to the back, I came across the two grand title winners, namely The Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.

Image by Johnny Armstrong / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Every single work represents a key part of the extraordinary diversity and beauty of the nature of the planet. Coupled with such an attractive display, a short description gives the audience an awareness of the scene behind the visuals, in terms of photographers’ elaborate planning, cutting-edge techniques and even the patience required for capturing such moments. These vary from fixing a trap camera to the best position on a branch, releasing the shutter from the open window of a helicopter, to staying still for hours to prevent making noises in a humid jungle.

Not limited to wild creatures, human beings sometimes appear within the frame, particularly in the photojournalism section - both favourably and unfavourably. One image focuses on a scene of elephant tourism in which captive elephants are forced to behave unnaturally purely for the benefit of human education and entertainment .

Elsewhere, a spotlight is shined on a tender moment in which an orphaned
grey-headed flying fox is gently taken care of in a man’s hand. When accessing these sorts of insightful images and narratives, I couldn’t help but rethink the relationship between nature and us humans.

Image by Sergio Marijuán / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

We must recognise the necessity to humbly consider ourselves as one of the creatures of this planet who coexist with others, and not wield power nor privilege over our fellow species. Rosmund ‘Roz’ Kidman Cox, one of those on the contest’s judging panel, describes the world's best nature photography as a ‘collection of both thought-provoking images and ones that, in these dark times, remind us of the joy and wonder to be had from nature.’

At the last corner of the exhibition, they encourage visitors to be part of the project – ‘by submitting imaginative, original, creative and technically courageous images that capture both the beauty and fragility of the natural world, you will help ensure that sustainability and the conservation of wildlife remain in sharp focus.’

The competition opens for entries from every October to December. For details, visit

Featured Image: Douglas Gimesey

Will you be heading to M-Shed to check out this exhibition?