Youngest Ever Winner in RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2023

The eight-year-old winner is the youngest EVER to win in competition 30-year history

A striking close-up image of a turkey has won the overall top spot in the prestigious RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2023 hosted by wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham.

The stunning photo was entered by eight-year-old Jamie Smart – making her the youngest ever winner of the charity’s photography awards, which has been running for over 30 years.

Every year, the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards invites young people aged 18 years and under to capture the animal kingdom on a camera or a mobile device. Winners were announced (today) at an award ceremony at the Tower of London hosted by TV presenter and RSPCA president Chris Packham, who said Jamie’s “fantastic” turkey photo could be an “album cover for a punk band!”.

Jamie, from Llandrindod Wells in Powys, Mid Wales, secured the highest award out of more than 6,000 entries to the competition this year. The judges were impressed by the level of detail illuminated on the turkey, called Frederick, the contrast of colours and the dark and brooding background. The image which was entered under the ‘Pet Personalities’ category also caught the judges’ attention as an unusual and thought-provoking image which encourages people to think about turkeys differently.

Winner Jamie, who has her own website Eagle Eyed Girl where she posts David Attenborough-style wildlife videos and stunning photography, said: “I’d definitely like to be a wildlife photographer and presenter when I’m older. I really want to spread awareness and make a difference. I want to inspire people of all ages to get as many people as possible to help and conserve all these beautiful creatures.

“I’m amazed and proud of myself to have won and proud of my winning image. The shot of Frederick, our turkey, was taken through the bars of his pen and it looked like he was in prison which was quite appropriate due to the bird flu situation at the time. I wanted to show the beauty of his feathers with their iridescent shine, which he loves to display during spring and summer. People don’t often get to see the amazing plumage of turkeys. When the restrictions were lifted he was able to be let out againin our wooded area.

Jamie also won the ‘Pet Portraits’ category with her image of Curious George – a horse she spotted on some moorland. In the ‘Small World’ category, she was commended for her caterpillar image, while a swan tilting its head into the water also secured her a commended position in the ‘Under 12’ category – along with an image of a pheasant sitting on top of a farm gate – which was her personal favourite. She also won the ‘portfolio’ category with ‘A Year In a Life of the Turkey’ which as well as featuring the winning image showcased striking close-ups of the turkey’s eyes and feathers.

All entries are judged entirely anonymously which makes Jamie’s multiple successes this year even more staggering.

Other prize winners included ‘Small World’ winner Beau Healy, 14, from North London with his macro image of a tarantula, ‘Under 12 mobile’ winner Flynn Thaitanunde-Lobb, nine, from Hampshire with his spider image, ‘12-15 mobile’ winner Corbyn Thomas, 12, from Lancashire with a jellyfish image captured on Blackpool beach, ‘16-18 mobile’ winner Anna MacDonald, 17, from Perth, Scotland with a picture of a velella, ‘Under 12’ winner Hope Whittaker, 11, from South London with a photo of a cricket, ‘12-15’ winner Alex George, 15, from Worcestershire with an image of a dunlin, and ‘16-18’ winner James Pearson, 17, from East Sussex, with a shot of a whitethroat.

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

This year’s awards were judged by a panel of experts in wildlife photography, including wildlife photographer, TV presenter and RSPCA president Chris Packham; wildlife photographer 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.

Judge and awards host, Chris Packham said: “Seeing children and young people express their connection to the natural world through these photographs is always so heartening to see, and this year I was blown away by how many superb photographs we received for the competition.

“Jamie’s turkey photo really stood out for me, it’s a fantastic image and not just because I could imagine it as an album cover for a punk band! Jamie is clearly a very talented young photographer with an exciting future ahead of her and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

“The RSPCA Young Photographer Awards is a real celebration of animals and the natural world and I love taking part every year. I hope everyone who entered continues with their love of animals and photography and they should all be proud of their achievements. Next year, we hope to reach even more children through the Young Photographer Awards as the RSPCA celebrates its milestone 200th year.”

Winners in each category were awarded trophies and a selection of prizes at the Tower of London ceremony and as the Overall Winner, Jamie Smart receives a weekend photography break with Natures Images. This fabulous prize includes two nights’ accommodation for the winner and a parent/guardian.

The RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2024 opens for entry in May and the charity hopes it will be an even bigger and better competition to coincide with the RSPCA’s 200th anniversary. The RSPCA will be celebrating two centuries as the world’s oldest and largest animal charity, and wants you to join them. Visit: rspca.org.uk/ypa for all the latest news, galleries and photo tips.

Email: ypa24@rspca.org.uk to join the mailing list and be the first to know when the competition opens.

To watch a recording of the ceremony visit: https://young.rspca.org.uk/ypa/about

The full gallery of all the winning images can be viewed here.

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