The 2023 Comedy Wildlife Photo winners – naturally, they're a hoot
It's that wonderful time of year: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards panel has judged and the results are in. Taking out top prize is a kangaroo seemingly rocking out on air guitar, while the other winners and finalists were dominated by two perennial favorites – clumsy and expressive birds.
Best of all, this lighthearted competition that's treasured by millions provides some respite from the doom and gloom that's often captured in wildlife photography. And through this, its creators, Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam, hope to get more people involved in the plights of the animals behind their candid poses.
“Through the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, we aim to widen understanding and engagement of a sustainable world – and wildlife conservation specifically – for the preservation of biodiversity and the health and enrichment of everyone on Earth," they note.
John Blumenkamp, who received a Highly Commended prize for his great gray owl image titled "Monday Blahs", said that the awards bring just as much joy to the people behind the cameras.
"They emphasize conservation while taking a fun and special look at wildlife," he said. "While out shooting I often find myself smiling or laughing with some of the behaviors of various species, and this annual event is a great way to bring that fun element of nature to others.
"While photographing the great gray owl shown in my image, I had been busy working to capture that majestic looking pose," he added. "As the owl preened and then sat still for a short while, it stretched once more and for a quick moment gave the pose shown. As it did, I grinned and thought, 'Now that’s funny!.”
Australian Jason Moore took out the top spot with his perfectly timed snap of a male western grey kangaroo scratching, though looking more like he's belting out AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" riff. Titled "Air Guitar Roo", the image also won the Creatures of the Land category.
“I was driving past a mob of western grey kangaroos feeding in an open field that was filled with attractive yellow flowers," said Moore of his 2021 snap. "I had my camera with me, so I stopped to grab a few photos. I suddenly noticed this individual adopt a humorous pose – to me it looks like he's practicing strumming on his air guitar.”
It was also one of two kangaroo images that made the final cut this year, in a competition that received 5,300 entries from 85 countries.
One of the standout images from the Highly Commended winners was "The Happy Turtle" by Tzahi Finkelstein. What it lacks in laugh-out-loud comedy, it makes up for in pure warm and fuzzies, with the swamp turtle appearing to be looking at wonder at its new dragonfly buddy.
“The swamp turtle is surprised and smiles at the dragonfly resting on its nose," said the Israeli snapper who captured this serotonin-serving stunner.
Jacques Poulard from France forgot he was photographing wildlife, and instead submitted a picture of sentient snowball. This Highly Commended photo is not just hilarious but gets bonus points for difficulty.
"These pictures was taken in Spitzberg, by a very cold winter, the white grouse is coming to me and look like a snowball with eyes," Poulard said.
In 2023/24, 10% of the organization's profits will be donated to the Whitley Fund for Nature, a UK charity that supports conservation leaders at home in the Global South. The region has some of the most incredible species on the planet, but also the greatest poverty and wildlife habitat loss.
The Comedy Photography Awards competition is open to photographers of all skill levels, as it's as much about the moment captured as how it is taken. So if you'd like to enter for 2024, check out the details here.
You can view more winners and highly commended images in our gallery.