The finalists for the annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have been announced and are funner than ever. Right now, you can vote on your favorites among the top shortlist for 2021. Thousands of entries from professional photographers and novices were submitted and carefully laughed over.
Since 2015, founders Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam, both renowned photographers, have seen the competition grow rapidly. Now, it raises awareness for wildlife conservation efforts globally. Paul and Tom started with the mission to use “humor as a tool to bring audiences in on the wider story about conservation.”
“A funny animal photo is incredibly effective because there are no barriers to understanding or taboos that must be negotiated. It taps into the impulse for anthropomorphism (big word!) which is well-documented as one of the most powerful triggers for human empathy. To really understand animals and the issues that affect them, you need to empathize with them as fellow inhabitants of the same planet,” they write.
By laughing as we see animals take on human-like expressions, we instantly feel connected.
“The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards’ content accesses our empathy by showing how alike we really are. You don’t need to cover your eyes or look away. We want our viewers to share our enjoyment of nature and take the time to recognize its value.”
As millions of people share them, it can only help in the fight to save wildlife. This year, the competition is helping efforts to save orangutans in Borneo.
Finalists for Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
One of the standout finalists this year is a photo by Wenona Suydam of a Kodiak brown bear.
Draw Me Like One Of Your French Bears
The aptly-titled picture, “Draw Me Like One Of Your French Bears,” shows the bear reclining in the sand. As far as comedy wildlife photography goes, this one must be one of the best because we can’t stop laughing.
“This young kodiak brown bear sauntered down the riverbed and stopped across from me,” Suydam wrote. “She proceeded to start making herself a bear bed, pulling back the sand with her gigantic claws. Once she had her bed just how she wanted it, she laid down, rolled over on her back, and started smiling at me! And she didn’t stop smiling! I would have to say she was the most provocative bear I had ever seen!”
Monkey Riding A Giraffe
When it comes to comedy wildlife photography, a giraffe jockey will probably always remain a highly unlikely subject. Well, at least it appears that a monkey is riding the African plains while carrying a staff. However, it’s an illusion created due to impeccable timing. Bet you won’t see another shot quite like this one anytime soon?
“During a game drive, we found a group of monkeys playing around with each other, jumping up and down from a bare branch,” Steehouwer told Insider. “It was a joy to watch. After a while, I saw a giraffe coming from the right. The moment the giraffe passed the branch, one of the monkeys was on his post to ride the giraffe.”
Smoked Deer For Dinner
In this photo by Siddhant Agrawal, we see a tiger that appears to be preparing to cook dinner.
“I have been following the family of a tigress called Paaro in India’s Jim Corbett National Park for many years,” Agrawal wrote. “This is her daughter, who stood on her hind limbs to be able to scratch her face with a log. But, it appears as if she is carrying the log on her shoulders.”
I Got You
In an image of gophers, Roland Kranitz captured an amazing shot in Hungary. It looks as if one gopher has been tossed through the air to the ready arms of another.
“I spent my days in my usual ‘gopher place’ and yet again, these funny little animals haven’t belied their true nature,” wrote Kranitz.
Martina Novotna captured a hilarious picture of a gray seal pup. It really does look like it’s having a good laugh. Novotna explained to Insider how she did it.
“I loved the expression captured,” Novotna wrote. “It looks so human-like. I was lying on a rocky beach for hours, as motionlessly as possible, patiently waiting for seal life to unfold around me. This seal pup came onto the shore for a bit of rest and ended up sleeping on its chosen rock for hours before the incoming tide forced it to move more inland. Occasionally, it would stretch and yawn, and it was one of the yawns that led to this expression, looking as if the seal was giggling.”
Monday Morning Mood
Founders Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam are quite comedic themselves, as they review entires on social media.
One of Pau’s favorites is an image of the pied starling from South Africa. (see below)
“I like this ’cause it kind of reminds me of what I think Tom looks like every morning,” Paul said.
The real-life Angry Bird is by Andrew Mayes, and most people can relate to that look, especially on Monday.
“I took this shot while photographing a group of pied starlings perched in a tree at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in South Africa,” Mayes told Insider. “It perfectly sums up my mood on most Monday mornings.”
Shaking Off 2020
Speaking of grumpy moods, this timely shot by Dawn Wilson might take the cake. After surviving 2020, it really does seem to capture the overall feeling. Today, the entire world can relate to this brown pelican.
“I was photographing brown pelicans on a rainy day in southern Louisiana in early 2021, still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Wilson wrote. “As the pelicans woke up, they would shake the water off their bodies before heading out to fish. This particular one almost seemed to be shrugging his shoulders, as if to say, ‘I have no idea what 2021 will be like.'”
Speaking of cringeworthy, in this image by Ke Jensen, you might feel the urge to LOL, cringe, or a mixture of both.
“A golden silk monkey in Yunnan, China,” Jensen wrote. “This is actually a show of aggression, however, in the position that the monkey is in it looks quite painful!”
For Tom, his favorite is an image of Western Grey kangaroos titled, “Missed.” As one kangaroo attempts to deliver a kick to its rival, it misses quite spectacularly.
“This is exactly how I imagine Paul would fight if her was to throw any kind of punch it would miss and look like one of these two,” says Tom.
This one is by Lea Scadden, who submitted more than one funny image of kangaroos for the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
“Two western grey kangaroos were fighting and one missed kicking him in the stomach,” Scaddan wrote.
Then, Paul and Tom discuss the image of a boxfish by Philipp Stahr, taken near the Caribbean island of Curaçao. It’s titled, “Sweet Lips Are For Kissing!”
“We’d like to blow everyone a kiss much in the style of the boxfish,” said Tom.
Underwater photographer Stahr described how he got an unexpected close-up of those luscious lips.
“Usually boxfish are difficult to take pictures of. They do not have a problem with divers coming close, but if you show interest, they always turn their back and not their face towards you,” Stahr wrote. “When the right moment came, I turned the camera 90 degrees to the front to just point and shoot, hoping to have the fish in focus. Never expected to have its beautiful lips that close!”
Judging The Comedy Wildlife Photography for 2021
This year, a well-known wildlife photographer from the UK, Will Burrard-Lucas, will be judging the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards again. Recently, Burrard-Lucas published a book about black leopards, one of Africa’s most elusive cats.
“I’m proud to have been associated with the awards since it was first launched, and it’s been a real privilege to see how the awards have grown, and now the incredible global coverage that winners receive every year,” he said.
For Burrard-Lucas, it’s a pleasure to see the thousands of entries and how they make millions of people smile.
“These awards really do have the power to put smiles on faces. And, certainly, for me, it’s a pleasure to see all these amazing, comical, uplifting images that you guys enter each year,” he said.
Vote for your favorite finalists on the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards website now!
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