Misty landscape and Nepalese street scene take top spots in BVA Veterinary Photographer of the Year competition

Two companion animal vets have wowed judges and secured first place in their respective categories for the fourth annual BVA Veterinary Photographer of the Year competition. The 2019 contest saw over 400 applications from vets from across the profession with an interest in and passion for photography.

In the ‘All creatures great and small’ category, Jennifer Dykes, a small animal, Nottinghamshire based vet, took the top spot with her misty morning image of two sheep seemingly ‘in conversation’ at Castlerigg Stone Circle in the Lake District. She called it ‘Conversations at Dawn (Sheep at Dawn Lakes)’.

On winning first place in her category, Jennifer Dykes said:

“I am overjoyed that my image has been selected as the overall winner of the All Creatures Great and Small category, especially having seen the high calibre of photographs entered in previous years. I’d come across images of Castlerigg stone circle near Keswick before and so I dragged us all out of bed exceptionally early to try and capture the dawn. The combination of the early light and the mist provided the perfect backdrop to the foreground scene; the sheep seemingly completely unfazed by the presence of a few bystanders. Capturing their normality, amidst such beautiful surroundings, was my intention when taking this photograph.”

Application standards remained very high for the 2019 BVA Photographer of the Year competition and this year saw zoologist and wildlife photographer, Victoria Hillman and Guardian picture editor, Eric Hilaire join an expert panel of judges.

On choosing the winning image for the ‘All creatures great and small’ category, judge, Victoria Hillman said:

“The composition draws you into the sheep, which are an integral part of the image without being front and centre. The light and mist bring a real atmosphere to the image that beautifully sums up the British countryside. It’s a very well thought out and executed image.” 

In the ‘One Veterinary Community’ category, Laura Caballero Pastor, a small animal vet from Gateshead, won first place. Her photograph depicts a veterinarian helped by the community to vaccinate a dog against rabies in Nepal. She named it ‘One shot, two lives’ and said that the photo was taken during a project where she was part of a veterinary team working with the community to neuter, treat and educate on managing dog populations for rabies and other diseases.

Laura said:

“Receiving recognition for this picture enforces my belief in the responsibility that the veterinary sector has to promote animal health to global communities and society. There is a thin line between humans and animals when we talk about diseases. Also, this photo encourages me to continue working on international projects and to be aware of all the amazing possibilities our profession has to offer.”

On finding the winning image for the ‘One Veterinary Community’ category, judge Eric Hilaire said:

“With an expressive framing this meaningful picture has captured two important aspects of veterinary work. On one side, treatment, with this team vaccinating street dogs against rabies, on the other, prevention, with this girl holding tight on her booklet.”

The criteria for the award asked entrants to be BVA members and to showcase veterinary working life through a lens or capture the natural world from their unique perspective.

The following applicants were awarded high commendations for their work:

  • Luke Yeates with ‘All creatures small and slimy’ 
  • Kyle Eadie with ‘Chasing Sunsets’ 
  • Justine Shotton with ‘Sleepy Bees’ 
  • Ana Coscujuela with ‘Moother care’ 
  • Dr Clair Williams with ‘Lake District Saviour’
  • Jamie McClement with ‘Jeremy Onyett operates on a dog’
  • Rebecca Woollard with ‘Perplexed’ 
  • Danny Chambers with ‘Beast of Bodmin’
  • Laura Caballero Pastor with ‘The Expression from an equal’

On judging the award and winning photographs, BVA President Simon Doherty said:

“The quality of this year’s images was fantastic, and it was great fun – but a tough task – selecting the winning entries.

“I was pleased to see such a strong portfolio of entries alongside an incredible diversity of subjects. Many congratulations go to our winners Laura and Jennifer, as well as the highly commended selections, and I’d also like to thank everyone who entered.

“I hope it will inspire more BVA members to dust off their cameras, and go and capture some great images for next year.”

The winning and highly commended photographs will be exhibited at Brangwyn Hall in Swansea on Thursday 19th September as part of BVA’s Members’ Day. The images can be viewed here.