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Nature & Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Published January 14th, 2013

Two years after picking up my first DSLR, I fell in love all over again with my passion for beautiful images. Moving on from point and shoot cameras, I settled on a 2nd hand Nikon D3000 and began to learn how to use it by reading online tutorials and magazines. It was a few weeks later when I applied to Digital Photographer Magazine for their 'improve my skills' workshop and I went along to Hamerton Wildlife Park in Cambridge to photograph the 'big cats'. I got a 4 page spread in Digital Photographer which spurned me on to improve on what I'd learned.

Soon after, I upgraded my camera body to a Nikon D90. I already had a couple of lenses which I'd purchased beforehand. I entered more and more competitions, both online and through various magazines. I found a lot of my images had been successful and won a few prizes such as camera bags, holidays and books.

So in August 2012, I Joined The Societies (SWPP) and joined their forum where I noticed they ran monthly competitions. I had been shooting wildlife a while before and knew I had an image worthy of entering into the wildlife category. I decided to post it.

To my absolute surprise, the image submitted won a Gold Award! Soon after, I received a Certificate verifying my success. I continued to enter the monthly competitions in as many categories as I could, alas, no more images received gold and I began to feel deflated.

Then in November 2012, I got an email from The Societies informing me that my Gold Award image had been nominated for Nature and Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 and I was to attend the awards ceremony held in the Hilton Metropole Hotel in London.

The event was held on 12 January 2013, I was dubious about going as I knew nobody, had no clue what to expect and thought I'd never win with my image. During the meal all the Gold Award images from the past year were displayed on a huge screen, and when I'd seen the other nominations I really thought I was out of my depth.

When everybody was ready the Awards began, category by category, nominations and winners were announced. Each photographer walked up to the stage, collected their awards and trophies before proceeding to the PR stand to have their photos taken for the press.

Next came the Nature and Wildlife category. I didn't feel nervous or anything as I wasn't expecting anything from it. Then I heard 'and the nominations are'..........there was 6 nominations including me. Then......'and the winner is'............Then my Name! silently I just thought, 'oh, wow' I've won. The whole room was applauding, and watching as I made my way to the stage. I couldn't believe I had just won Nature & Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012! I collected my trophy and award and then it was me having my PR Photo taken! a very surreal feeling and one that I will never forget.

The night was like a scene from the BAFTAS, Men in in their black ties and the ladies dressed to the nines! I'd never been to anything like it and had only seen scenes like that on TV. I'm still shocked, and even now when I look at my trophy, I can't believe my success.

So it goes to prove that you don't need years of experience or expensive camera gear to capture winning images. I love my D90 and the lens I used to get the winning shot is a Tamron 70-300mm. I believe the key to winning is to take your time, keep practicing and believe you have what it takes.

In flight Egret

Nature & Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012. Winning image with the SINWP (society of international nature and wildlife photographers)

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