May 14
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Wildscreen with Photo Story Panda Award judge, Peter Cairns

To celebrate the launch of the inaugural Wildscreen Photo Story Panda Award at this year’s Wildscreen Festival, Arkive is getting to know the award’s amazing jury, who are themselves international photography professionals. Here we meet Peter Cairns.

 

Peter Cairns

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I spent my childhood in the English Midlands, but I’ve been based in the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands for over 20 years now.

I’ve been a freelance nature and conservation photographer since 2000 and am a founding director of The Wild Media Foundation, a social enterprise that generates conservation media through projects such as Tooth & Claw, Highland Tiger, Wild Wonders of Europe and 2020VISION.

In 2015, I founded SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, a company dedicated to producing compelling visual media that promotes the benefits of a wilder Scotland.

I am also Board Member of Scottish rewilding charity Trees for Life, and a Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

 

View over Glen Einich in late summer, Scotland | © Peter Cairns

What was your exposure to photography growing up?

Very little until my early adult life. My Grandad was a keen photographer but I took little interest until my mid-twenties. He did however, instil in me a passion for birds and when that resurfaced in later life, it provided the catalyst for my early attempts at wildlife photography.

Black grouse (Tetrao tetrix), Scotland | © Peter Cairns

What in your opinion makes a good photo story?

There’s a word that I use a lot in evaluating stories I document myself and those covered by others: Compelling. Is this story compelling?  Does it captivate my interest and perhaps more importantly, does it move me? Our job as conservation photographers is firstly to inform. If we can then inspire, that’s a bonus. The Holy Grail however, is to influence. If a story influences a change in mindset or motivates an action, it’s been successful.

Do you have any memorable photo stories of your own?

I tend to forget pretty much everything I’ve done as soon as I’ve done it! I’m not one for dwelling too long on the success, or otherwise, of my own work. There’s always so much more to do. That said, certain stories do have a habit of bouncing back to life years ahead and that is true of some work I did on Scottish wildcats which is still doing the rounds ten years after the images were taken.

Scottish wildcat (Felis sylvestris) stalking along track in pine forest, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland | © Peter Cairns

You’re Project Director of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, why is rewilding important to you and Scotland as whole? And how do you best communicate your rewilding vision to a wider audience?

Most of the projects I’ve been involved with over the years, and the lessons learned from them, have culminated in SCOTLAND: The Big Picture. In some ways it brings me back to working very close to home where I know the lie of the land physically, culturally and politically. It’s important to understand the context of a story to tell it effectively.

Despite notable conservation success stories, Britain is one of the most ecologically depleted nations on Earth. All of our large carnivores have gone. Most of our large herbivores have gone and across huge areas of Scotland the land is degraded and pretty much devoid of life. Rewilding offers an opportunity to revitalise vast landscapes and to restore the natural processes that sustain all life.  This cannot and should not be achieved at the expense of people but to the benefit of people. In terms of communicating what is quite a complex message, we tend to tease out individual stories within the wider story, using species like red squirrels or ospreys as “ambassadors” of the wider rewilding narrative.

There’s no silver bullet at work here. It takes time to change people’s belief systems and we’re on that journey of change. Every now and then we see a glimpse of success – from someone reading our books or attending a presentation perhaps -and that spurs us on. Visual storytelling does make a difference.

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) on the edge of a woodland pool, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland |             © Peter Cairns

You are on the jury for Wildscreen’s inaugural Photo Story Panda Award. Why do you feel it’s important that Wildscreen is including stills photography within the Panda Awards and the Wildscreen Festival?

When I look back over the last 20 years, there are images that are seared onto my mind. They made me think differently and act differently.  I want as many people as possible to see compelling images created by talented photographers and to feel differently as a result. Wildscreen is providing the mechanism for that to happen and I’m delighted to be part of it.

If you could give 18 year old you one piece of advice for building a career in photography, what would it be?

Think hard before you jump – you need to be financially sustainable to enable your voice to be heard – that’s not easy these days. Let your head rule your heart, not the other way around.

Secondly, build relationships – they will become your greatest asset. There, that’s two bits of advice!

______________

Thanks to Peter for talking to us, and we look forward to seeing him and the fantastic array of submissions at the Wildscreen Festival 2018!

You can find Peter on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, or visit his website petercairnsphotography.com

Revisit the Arkive blog soon to meet the rest of the Wildscreen Photo Story Panda Award jury.

May 8
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Wildscreen launches new international wildlife photography competition!

For the first time in its 36 year history, the 2018 Wildscreen Panda Awards, widely regarded as the most prestigious accolade in the wildlife film and TV genre, will recognise the craft of wildlife photography, with the introduction of the Wildscreen Photo Story Panda Award.

The Panda Awards ceremony is the flagship event of the Wildscreen Festival, the world’s biggest global gathering and celebration of screen-based natural history storytelling. The photo award is being launched to further cement the conservation charity’s commitment to and belief in photography as a powerful and impactful tool for raising awareness about and protecting the natural world across society.  It will celebrate and recognise the very best in photographic narrative, uniting it alongside the world’s very best natural world film talent.

© Neil Aldridge

Announcing the award, Wildscreen’s Director, Lucie Muir, said: “ As we approach CBD 2020, in Beijing, it is essential for the future of our planet that everyone understands the critical importance of biodiversity and the responsibility we all have to protect it. Therefore, there is no better time for Wildscreen to recognise the craft of wildlife and environmental photographers in telling nature’s stories, side by side and united with the world’s best filmmakers. Our community of talented storytelling professionals are transforming the way people see and understand nature, they are our eyes on our natural world and a voice for those that cannot speak, and it’s our role to celebrate and thank them.”

Jury Chair, Sophie Stafford, said: “Storytelling has been part of the fabric of society since the dawn of human language, but in a world addicted to instant gratification it’s a skill that is being lost. Sadly, there’s never been a time it was needed more. As pressures on the natural world become ever more intense, there is no better time to launch a photo award to showcase the most important and compelling wildlife stories of our time. This new Panda Award will reward dedicated photographers for committing the time and resources required to shoot a well-rounded story, and highlight the beauty of our planet and the challenges it faces.

 

CALL FOR ENTRIES

Entrants have between the 18 April to 8 June 2018 to submit photo stories comprising of between six to ten images that have an aspect of the natural world as a central focus, with a clear and powerful narrative weaved between the images.

The competition is open to professional and amateur photographers worldwide, over 18 years. The judges will also be looking for exceptional emerging talent photographers, under the age of 30, which will be considered for an ‘Emerging Talent Photo Story Panda Award’.

© Neil Aldridge

Entries can be made via the online submission portal on the Wildscreen website, available at: www.wildscreen.org/panda-awards

 

Judges

The inaugural competition will be judged by a stellar panel of international photography professionals, including –  Kathy Moran (USA), Senior Editor (Natural History), National Geographic Magazine; Britta Jaschinski (Germany/UK) photojournalist and co-founder of Photographers Against Wildlife Crime; Peter Cairns (UK) nature and conservation photographer and founding director of The Wild Media Foundation and Jasper Doest (Netherlands) conservation photographer.

The jury will be chaired by wildlife magazine editor and seasoned international photography competition judge Sophie Stafford (UK) and award-wining conservation photographer Neil Aldridge, winner of the World Press Photo 2018 Environment category, as the competitions’ technical consultant.

© Britta Jaschinski

 

Prizes

Three nominees will be announced in August with the overall winner revealed at the Wildscreen Panda Awards ceremony on Friday 19 October 2019. Each of the nominated photo stories will be featured in a large-scale outdoor photography exhibition in central Bristol, UK, in October 2018, reaching a public audience of over 45,000. Nominees will also be invited to present their work during the internationally-renowned Wildscreen Festival programme, as part of its unrivalled line-up of industry leaders.

Wildscreen Festival

The Wildscreen Panda Awards, nicknamed the ‘Green Oscars’, have sat at the heart of the Wildscreen Festival since it was founded in 1982. Taking place every two years, over 900 filmmakers, photographers and broadcasters from over 40 countries, convene in Bristol, UK for one week to do business, collaborate and celebrate the nature storytelling genre.

The Wildscreen Festival 2018 takes place from October 15 to 19 and will deliver an unrivalled programme of film screenings, keynotes, masterclasses and networking.

Feb 15
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The World’s Favourite Unloved Species 2018 – the Galapagos Racer

The race to become crowned as the World’s Most Unloved Species was hotly contested, once again, this year with 19 nominated species in the running.  After 12 days of fierce competition, impassioned pitches and over 4,500 votes, the top 10 was announced on Valentine’s Day.

But slithering into first place… it’s the Galapagos racer!

Often demonised, the Galapagos racer shot to fame during the BBC’s 2016 series Planet Earth II.  They are one of a few endemic snakes found in the Galapagos and can grow to a maximum of 125 centimetres.  However, little is known about the Galapagos racer and there is even confusion over the number of species or subspecies of racer snakes found in the Galapagos.  The Galapagos racer is already locally extinct on Floreana Island and are threatened following the introduction of cats and pigs onto neighbouring islands which forage for their eggs.

All the nominated species are worthy winners, and were chosen as they are often overshadowed and overlooked by the more cute, handsome and (supposedly) interesting members of the natural world.  But which species pulled at the public’s heartstrings the most and made it into the top 10?  Here’s a quick rundown:

Wombling into second place, it’s the bare-nosed wombat.  Also known as the ‘common wombat’ this furry marsupial may no longer be as ‘common’ as its namesake suggests, as the population battles an increasing number of fatal road strikes and the deadly skin condition mange.

Flying into third, and in the highest place a bird has had in this contest, it’s the lappet-faced vulture.  Definitely not noted for their cuddly nature, these birds have been known to take on jackals to defend a carcass!

In fourth place we dive underneath the waves with the first shark to enter the top 10!  The shortfin mako is a speed machine, capable of reaching 35 kilometres an hour and even having the power to launch itself clear out of the water.

At number five we have the Asian elephant.  Despite having had a close relationship with man over the centuries these giants are facing a number of threats including poaching and habitat loss, and are often overlooked by their larger African relatives.

Hopping into the top 10 at number six is the common toad.  Firmly rooted in English folklore and culture this gardener’s friend is another species with an unfortunate name as populations have taken a dramatic downturn declining by 68% over the last 30 years.

The ‘lucky number seven’ spot is taken by the red squirrel.  However this iconic species is not so lucky, facing habitat fragmentations, disease and competition with the grey squirrel, introduced into the UK in the 1870s.

Coming up in eighth place is the aye-aye.  Not known for its dashing good looks, this primate has been considered an omen of bad luck resulting in persecution by the Malagasy people!

Looking fine at nine is the Copan brook frog.  The second amphibian in the top 10, this tiny frog could be easily hidden if it wasn’t for its bright, lime green colouration.

And last but by no means least, it’s the blue shark.  This sleek apex predator is instantly recognisable as it moves gracefully through the water however it is one of the most heavily fished sharks in the world, with an estimated 15-20 million caught every year.

To find out more about these species and the work being done to research and conserve them, visit the results page here.

Feb 1
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Vote for your favourite unloved species – thorny skate

Species name: thorny skate

Nominated by: Shark Advocates International

IUCN Red List classification: Vulnerable

What is so special about your species?

Thorny skates have amazing features, support substantial fisheries, and face serious threats. Yet, they get so little love.

This fierce-looking, bottom-dwelling species has a dozen or more large thorns running down its back and tail. It’s found on both sides of the North Atlantic, with the degree of “thorniness” varying by latitude. In the UK, it’s known as the “starry ray” because the bases of its thorns are shaped like stars. Female thorny skates don’t begin laying egg cases (known as mermaids’ purses) until after age 10, and produce only about 15 viable hatchlings per year after incubation that can last three years! This species is believed to live longer than other North Atlantic skates (~30 years or more).

What are the threats to this species in the wild?

Like most rays and sharks, the main threat to thorny skates is overfishing. Their slow growing lifestyle makes them inherently susceptible to it. Skates are a popular food fish (particularly in Europe), and are also killed incidentally in fisheries targeting other species. The Northwest Atlantic thorny skate population has been seriously overfished and yet the international quota set by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) is significantly higher than scientists advise. In 2018, however, we have a great chance to change that! Scientists will update the thorny skate population status in June and issue fishery management advice that NAFO officials from governments all across the North Atlantic will consider in September.

What can people do to help your species?

Skates need love, seriously. As part of the Shark League, we’re working with Ecology Action Centre, Project AWARE, and Shark Trust to raise and channel the public support necessary to elevate the conservation priority of skates within governments, and secure the actions required for recovery. Concerned citizens (particularly in Canada, the EU, Norway, and the US) can help by letting policy makers know they care about thorny skates, and calling for a precautionary, science-based NAFO skate quota decision in September.

Follow #ElevateTheSkate and #SharkLeague on Twitter over the coming months to learn more and get involved. Thank you!

VOTE NOW!

 

Feb 1
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Vote for your favourite unloved species – goliath frog

Species name: goliath frog

Nominated by: Synchronicity Earth

IUCN Red List classification: Endangered

What is so special about your species?

The goliath frog is the world’s largest frog. It is known only from south-western Cameroon from the region of Nkongsamba, and south to Monte Alen in mainland Equatorial Guinea. It is generally found at low to medium altitudes. These enormous frogs can weigh more than 3kg, and when they extend their powerful hind legs they can measure more than 80cm from their snout to the tip of their toes. They live in or near fast-flowing rivers and streams in rainforest. Breeding takes place in streams and small rivers. The young rest by flowing water during the day.

What are the threats to this species in the wild?

The goliath frog is threatened mainly by hunting for its meat. Through much of its range, goliath frogs have now been hunted out from the areas around villages. Rising human population densities mean that there are fewer and fewer places far enough from human settlements where the animals can be safe. Hunters use special traps to catch the animals and the meat of the frogs is highly prized and eaten in the form of a special “goulash”. The species is also threatened by loss of its forest habitat, leading to siltation and pollution of rivers.

As an Endangered amphibian, the goliath frog is emblematic of the problems facing frogs around the planet. They are the planet’s most threatened class of vertebrates, with 40% at risk of extinction.

What can people do to help your species?

The Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation, with the support of Global Wildlife Conservation, is leading the work to tackle the threats of over-harvesting and habitat loss. This work is: 1) raising conservation awareness in communities that interact with frog populations, and 2) restoring altered habitats where they have been disturbed. Because these frogs are a type of bushmeat and food source, the key to successful conservation is in working directly with communities hunting the species. By raising awareness and garnering community support, the Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation works to change behaviour and reduce hunting. There is also an urgent need to understand the breeding biology of the species better and to identify the most important surviving populations.

VOTE NOW!

 

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