March of the Penguins - Michael Johnson-BrowneA striking image of penguins walking in the Falkland Islands – captured by a youngster from West Wales – has been awarded Runner Up prize in the Under 12s category of the prestigious RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2019. 

`March of the Penguins’  was taken by 8-year-old Michael Johnson-Browne from Haverfordwest, whose award-winning photo was singled out from thousands of entries.

Youngsters aged up to 18 years old had been invited to capture the animal kingdom on camera or a mobile device for this year’s RSPCA Young Photographer Awards.

Michael took the award-winning image in the Falklands. The youngster had entered ‘March of the Penguins’ into the Under 12s category and it beat off fierce competition from more than 6,500 photographs to win that category’s Runner Up prize in this year’s competition.

Winner Michael said: “I’m so happy that the judges liked my photo.

“At Volunteer Point in the Falklands there is a beautiful beach. The sand is so white it can look like snow. There is also a large King Penguin colony. It stinks.

“I love these birds – they are so curious and from a distance they can look like humans walking slowly. I love to spend time watching them and taking photos of them and feel lucky to have been able to do so.”

Enticing a record 6,595 entries from under 19s across the UK, this year’s awards were judged by a panel of experts in wildlife photography, including TV presenter Patrick Aryee, who has joined as a new judge on the panel alongside Chris Packham and award-winning photographers Andrew Forsyth and Jules Cox.

Also on the panel were sponsors of the Awards, Philip Warner, MD of printing business Warners Midlands plc, award-winning photographer Ellie Rothnie from Nature’s Images, along with former RSPCA Young Photographer Awards overall winner Catriona Parfitt.

Judge and awards host Chris Packham said: “I’ve been judging the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards since they started. It’s exciting to see it move with the times, particularly with new options this year such as the Instagram category.

“We’re also pleased that the Mobile Phone and Devices category continues, because as no separate camera is required, this has really opened up the competition to almost anyone.”

The winning images across eleven categories, including three different age groups, were announced during an awards ceremony hosted by Chris Packham at the Tower of London on Wednesday, 18 December.

Other category winners and runners-up included ‘Puffin Kiss’ showing two affectionate puffins, taken by 16 year-old Jake Kneale, who won ‘Commended’ in the Portfolio category; and ‘Chocolate Lab’, a close-up picture of a young dog byMichael Johnson-Browne (r) with Chris Packham (l) - awards Gabriella Hands, who was Runner-up in the 12-15 Mobile Phone and Devices category.

Reflecting on the strength of the competition this year, Chris Packham added: “Every year, I’m excited to see all the winning images printed and framed. They always present such a powerful and bold portfolio of work photographically and serve as a fantastic means of getting people to engage with animals and think about some of the issues which affect them.

“It’s nice to see so many creative photos of people’s pets and a range of wildlife in such a strong competition. It needs real imagination to make commonplace species interesting, and demonstrates that the photographer has been really innovative.

“The fantastic images we have seen this year range from pets at play to animals just getting on with their life in the wild. The competition is a great way for young people to go out and experience the environment around them.

“There are some beautiful pictures in this year’s winners’ gallery, with real talent shining through. This year’s entrants have been really creative and that is what we wanted to see.”

For a full gallery of the winning images* please visit the RSPCA Young Photographer’s website.