top of page

Judging the RSPCA’s 'Young Photographer Awards'

Updated: Mar 17

For 32 years, the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards has aimed to encourage an interest in photography and an appreciation of animals in thousands of children. And in 2022, I was invited to join the judging panel alongside photographer and wildlife expert Chris Packham.

The judging process

The judging process began in the summer when thousands of images were submitted. To ensure a fair result, each image was judged and scored blindly, meaning that the details of each photographer were anonymous. The voting process was a great challenge, as the quality of entries was phenomenally high. Initially, choosing winners seemed an impossible task, but after several days of discussions, the finalists were chosen and the excitement began to build for the awards ceremony at The Tower of London.

I was blown away by the level of creativity and technical ability presented to us, and the photographs were fantastic examples of how active the imagination of a child can be which I found refreshing and inspiring.

The Awards Ceremony

The venue was very fitting, as, throughout history, the Tower has been a symbol of awe which I felt as children as young as seven years old were presented with their prestigious awards. And it was not only I that sat in awe but a room full of doting parents, guardians, fellow judges and RSPCA staff. As well as the diversity of species and variety of photographic styles we saw, what struck me most was that the majority of finalists were young girls. As a female photographer myself, I have for several years been an advocate of young women and girls flourishing within the photography community, and take great pride in encouraging a safe space for them to thrive.

Searching for uniqueness

When judging the images, I was looking for a unique quality, and evidence that the photographer had considered not only their ethical responsibilities but their creative process and capabilities. The images which stood out for me were taken by photographers who had seen a creative potential in their subject and had put their skills and knowledge into capturing it effectively. A selection of stand-out images for me included:

Pet Portraits Winner 'Fighter, the Barnevelder cockerel'

Taken by Jamie Smart, 7

By removing the distraction of colour and putting the image into black and white, Jamie has captured textures and details that would have otherwise been overlooked and enhanced them with her high-key style.

Pet Portraits Commended 'What's up there?' Taken by Pheobe Mann, 15

As soon as I saw this image, I adored the white whiskers contrasting the black background that Pheobe has so cleverly achieved. I found this image to be especially satisfying as it proves that greatness can be achieved even with the most accessible animal subjects.

Under 12's Winner 'River Crossing' Taken by Max Pletzer, 11

Max's knowledge of his camera and technical abilities are very apparent in this image, and his creative decision to underexpose and leave blank space shows great creativity.

12 - 15's Runner Up 'In Position' Taken by Oliver Butcher, 14

This image was one of my favourites, and Oliver's decision to use black and white to compliment the Avocet plumage and draw focus to the bird's posture was ver