With calls for nature and wildlife conservation growing ever louder – and rightly so – it’s no surprise that young people are joining these impassioned ranks in their droves, determined to secure a brighter future for our planet. Among them is a bevy of talented wildlife photographers and here we’re shining a light on some of the most inspirational. As we put together this collection, we thought who better to introduce this new generation of photographers-cum-conservationists than our resident nature expert, James Lowen, author of A Summer of British Wildlife and 52 Wildlife Weekends? Here’s what he had to say:
‘They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Nowhere is that more true than in our social-media world – think Instagram for a start. Accordingly, it is exciting to see Bradt Guides’ curation of talented young photographers seeking to use their favoured medium to do good for the world – in this case, to strengthen conservation action, whether globally or locally. They make an impressive, inspirational cadre. And the world’s future might just be a little safer in their hands.’
Cruz Erdmann is a 15-year-old underwater photographer from New Zealand and winner of the 2020 Ocean Photography Awards Young Photographer of the Year. Although he loves diving in his home country, his favourite wildlife encounter to date was on a remote atoll in the Maldives.
‘From the moment I jumped in, it sounded like a hurricane. A rush of water and mass, an underwater wind caused by massive schools of fish. Dozens of species formed massive shoals that blocked off whole sections of the reef. It seemed as if the very sky was blocked by the mass of life.
‘Further on I came face to face with multiple large grey reef sharks and eagle rays. At one point the reef around me turned dark and as I looked up the sun disappeared under the wings of a manta ray right above me. Shark tails hung out from the rubble since there wasn’t enough space for all of them to fit. It was like I was transported back in time to an ocean before humans and it was then that I realised what a reef should look like.’
It is experiences like this that inspire him to share his images with others who may not have the same access to the ocean. His aim is ‘to spark the same wonder and awe I have of the ocean in other people, which I hope will lead to more awareness and support for marine conservation.’
Based in Kent, Jacob loves to photograph birds in his and his neighbours’ gardens, having been interested in wildlife and nature from a very young age. We were lucky enough to chat with him about what sparked this love of wildlife photography and he mentioned that his father passed down all the bird books that he had collected over the years. After flicking through them he found himself memorising what each species looked like and would try to spot them in his garden – in other words, he was hooked.
When we spoke, Jacob also stressed how important conservation is to him saying, ‘through my photography I hope to show the beauty of the natural world around us and help with conservation of declining species here in the United Kingdom.’ It is for this very reason that Scotland is at the top of his travel list. According to him, it’s ‘almost a safe haven for many endangered and rare species here in the UK such as red squirrels, white-tailed eagles, pine martens, otters, the list goes on and on.’ We already cannot wait to see his photos from the trip!
Not many pre-teens can claim to be a certified scuba diver, but that is exactly what Sam Sloss achieved on his 10th birthday in Bali.
Since then, he has spent the last four years travelling and diving in Indonesia, showcasing his amazing underwater photography on his Instagram. In 2020, he won the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in the 11- to 14-year-old category.
Indy Kiemel Greene
Living just a stone’s throw from Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire, 15-year-old Indy is an avid naturalist and conservationist. His love for wildlife took flight at age nine when he bought his first birdfeeder and his interest has only grown from there – today he can identify dozens of birds from their calls alone.
When asked what his favourite things to photograph are in an interview with LeftLion Magazine, Indy remarked that swallows, red headed cardinal beetles and red kites make up his top three wildlife encounters to date. Indy is also a member of the RSPB Youth Council and has used this impressive platform to raise awareness of wildlife conservation and the perils it faces.
After discovering her passion for photography at just five years old, 16-year-old Spanish photographer Laura Albiac has truly refined her talent.
Laura will sit peacefully in silence observing an animal for hours on end in order to get the best shot. Her patience clearly pays dividends as she was a finalist for the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award back in 2015.
Only 14 year olds, James proves that you don’t need to travel across the world to find wildlife to photograph.
Based in East Sussex, he shares snaps on his Instagram of common newts, owls and peregrines all spotted in his back garden.
The Young Birder
Self-confessed nature nerd Chloe (aka The Young Birder) is a 15-year-old wildlife photographer and blogger who documents local birds and wildlife in a way that truly demonstrates her passion for nature to her followers.
In addition to birding and walking, Chloe is also a talented artist and her love of animals is obvious from the intricacy of her drawings.
At just 18, Canadian Matthew Henry has a whopping number of photography awards to his name, but it’s easy to see why when you look at his fantastic images of wild otters, wolves and bears.
Matthew’s goal through his work is to encourage appreciation for the natural world and ultimately inspire others to protect the environment.
Andrés Domínguez Blanco
At just 11 years old, Andrés Domínguez Blanco is the youngest of the wildlife photographers in this list, but that doesn’t make his work any less impressive. He was the winner of the 2020 Youth Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the 10 Years and Under category and it is undeniable that he has a promising career ahead of him.
Moreover, when we spoke to him he mentioned how eager he is to keep honing his craft. He expressed his sincere gratitude towards his father who has not only helped him develop his photography skills, but also expanded his ‘knowledge of the animals and plants that surround us’. As a result, he hopes his images inspire others ‘to help respect the environment’.