‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ at the ROM

By on February 6, 2014

I have always had a strong love for animals, so when I heard the Royal Ontario Museum was hosting an exhibit called “Wildlife Photographer of the Year”, I just had to experience it for myself.

The exhibit is nothing short of amazing. The photos are moving, beautiful and vivid. You get lost in the images and the stories they tell. The pictures truly do engulf your emotions and sense of sight. My only regret in going is that I didn’t spend another hour truly admiring the wonder that is in the photos.


Dave Ireland, Managing Director of the Centre of Discovery in Biodiversity at the ROM, describes “This exhibit is fundamentally about biodiversity. It shows in spectacular format the wide variety of life on the planet. It also focuses on some species that are in an endangered or at-risk state.”

The exhibit, which closes on March 23, is in existence thanks to a UK based photo contest put on by the BBC and the Natural History Museum in London which is in its 49th year, and is one of the museum’s longest running exhibitions. This internationally renowned photography competition celebrates nature and wildlife featuring 100 photos selected from over 43,000 entries from around the world.

What makes the exhibit special is how the photos are displayed. Images are printed on glass and are backlit by LED lights. When I walked in, I could swear they were high definition televisions . The colours and vividness of the pictures were accentuated even more by the plain grey walls.

Another factor that makes this exhibit unique is the attention to detail when it comes to information. Each photo displays who the photographer is, how the image was taken, what’s going on in the image, info on camera specifications (ISO, shutter speed, etc.) including lighting and where the photo was taken in the world.

I also loved the acceptance and focus on young photographers. I strongly believe that young people are often defined by a ‘number’ and are underestimated in their abilities, which often time deserve recognition. This exhibit does that by showcasing twelve beautiful images taken by young people under seventeen years of age. How incredible!

The last section was the one that I found to be the most profound and thought provoking. The images showcase how human interaction continues to destroy nature, and how humans place themselves above all other life on this planet. It really does complete the entire experience, and brings you back to reality.

Going through the exhibit really does inspire you to go out and take brilliant photos of the beauty that is all around us. The Royal Ontario Museum is working with Fleming College to create the environmental visual communication program, a seven month intensive graduate level program that has students learn how to become better storytellers by learning from the best videographers, conservation photographers, social media gurus, bridging the worlds of art and science. It’s a great program, and I am seriously considering enrolling.

You don’t need to go to school to learn that this beautiful exhibit is a must see if you care or are curious about life and biodiversity at all. Dave Ireland says that if you take anything away from this exhibit it’s that, “Life is spectacular, life if fragile, and life and nature needs your help”.

About Shan Fernando

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