RSPCA Young Photographer Awards: Capturing Emotions in Animal Portraits

Buckle in for the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards emotional rollercoaster

As the deadline for the 2023 RSPCA Young Photographer Awards looms, the RSPCA is celebrating some of its finest young photographer alumni and the stunning range of emotions they have captured in animal portraits over the years.

Every year, incredible photographs are taken by youngsters aged 18 and under and entered as submissions to the prestigious RSPCA Young Photographer Awards. As this year’s awards judges brace themselves for another emotional judging session, the RSPCA is looking back at some of the most emotive entries from the last few years.

Young photographers still have until Tuesday 15 August to enter awards, which is now celebrating its 33rd year.

Award winning wildlife photographer and Young Photographer Awards judge, Emma Jacobs, said: “You might want to have a tissue ready for looking through our pick of some historic entries. Some will make you cry with laughter, others will make you weep from the emotion radiating from them – they all showcase what the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards is all about!”

  1. Radiant Ralph

Hilarious pet portrait taken by Demmi Havenhand, aged 18 from Bedlington in Northumberland, for the 2022 Young Photographer Awards. Demmi scored the Runner Up position in the Pet Portraits category for capturing this happy moment.

2. Guilty Sofa Look

Snapped for the under 12 mobile and devices category in 2020, 10-year-old Wilfred Maidment from Cranbrook in Kent, shot this heart-wrenching photo of his dog Buda, looking very sad and guilty for getting caught taking a nap on the sofa. Wilfred won first prize for his brilliant photo.

3. Sleeping Heart

Kathryn Walton, aged 12 from Northampton, took this warm fuzzy photo in 2020 and won the runner up prize for the aged 12-15 mobile phone and devices category.  Awwww.

4. A Summer Shower

Gideon Knight, aged 18 from Essex, captured this comic photo of a seagull ‘enjoying’ the great British summertime. Gideon was commended for his photo portfolio submission in 2018.

5. Hopeful for a white Christmas

Clara Drycz, aged 15 from Rochdale, caught the longing in her puppy’s eyes – as if he was wishing for just one white Christmas! Clara submitted her emotional entry to the mobile phone and devices category in 2022.

6. Nose Dive

At the other end of the spectrum, young photographer Hattie Pearce, aged 18 from Solihull, was commended in the 2022 Pet Personalities category for her photo of a joyful puppy enjoying some summer sand.

7. Puffins Kiss

This tender moment between two puffins was captured by Jake Kneale, aged 16 from Pewsey, in Wiltshire. Jake was commended for his photography portfolio submitted in 2019.

8. To infinity and beyond!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s a…flying lamb…Molly Tollson, aged 14 from Biggar in Scotland, photographed the surreal moment she saw a lamb take flight. Molly submitted her brilliant photo entry to the 12-15 mobile phone and devices category and won in 2020.

9. Snuggled Squirrel

Hugo Napier, aged 10 from York, photographed this lovely moment of human-animal connection as an orphaned squirrel is given a feed and a warm blanket. Hugo was runner up in the under 12 mobile phone and devices category for 2022.

10. Mid Air Catch

Daniel Zhang, aged 15 from Hendon in London, won the aged 12-15 category in 2019 for snapping this bird looking for his supper!

Last but not least, a final bonus photo to strike a fear into even the bravest of hearts. Joshu Myers aged 15 from Sheffield, shot this incredible but terrifying photo in 2018 and claimed the runner up position in the aged 12-15 category. Here’s a surprise wild card, number 11…

11. The Stare

There’s still time for budding young photographers to enter this year’s awards, and with ten different categories* to choose from, there’s something for everyone, whatever their interest – and some amazing prizes to be won. All animals are welcome, from pets to wildlife, insects, farm animals and more.

TV presenter, wildlife advocate and president of the RSPCA, Chris Packham said: “I am really excited about this year’s RSPCA Young Photographer Awards and I hope many young people will get outside and photograph their favourite animals or bugs for this fantastic competition.”

Judges include: wildlife photographer and TV presenter Chris Packham; wildlife photographer and presenter Rachel Bigsby; former competition winner-turned-professional photographer Catriona Parfitt; professional wildlife photographer and photographic guide Ellie Rothnie; and RSPCA photographers Andrew Forsyth and Emma Jacobs.

The judges will award trophies to winners in each category, as well as crowning an Overall Winner. The Overall Winner will receive a weekend photography break with award­-winning wildlife photographer Danny Green’s team at Natures Images. Worth £675, this fabulous prize includes two nights’ accommodation for the winner and a parent/guardian.

The winners will be announced in December 2023, at an awards ceremony hosted by Chris Packham at the Tower of London.

Young photographers can upload their images, view past galleries and find out everything they need to know at:

Sponsors of the competition are Natures Images (wildlife photography holidays) and Camtraptions (camera traps for wildlife photography).

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.

*The categories are;

  • Under 12 (taken with a camera)

  • 12–15 years (taken with a camera)

  • 16–18 years (taken with a camera)

  • Under 12 (taken on a mobile/device)

  • 12–15 years (taken on a mobile/device)

  • 16–18 years (taken on a mobile/device)

  • Pet Personalities

  • Pet Portraits

  • Small World

  • Portfolio

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