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The winners of the RSPA Young Photographer of the Year competition have been announced. The winning image, Mind your Head, was taken by ‘17 year-old Jake Kneale from Pewsey, Wiltshire, during lockdown in June, and was singled out from a record 11,000 entries this year.

Jake entered his winning image into the new ‘Small World’ category which was launched specifically to recognise how measures to control the pandemic will have limited how far young photographers could travel to take their photos. He was also awarded first prize in the competition’s Portfolio category for his series of striking swan images.

“During lockdown I set up a camera trap on an area of farm land close to my home with the hope of photographing wildlife passing through the gate,” Jake explained. “I was delighted when I captured this roe deer buck passing through, seeming to duck its head to pass underneath an overhanging bush. I like how this image conveys the idea of wildlife having areas more to themselves during lockdown.”

This year’s awards were blind-judged online by a panel of experts in wildlife photography, including photographer and TV presenter and RSPCA Vice President Chris Packham. The panel also included award-winning wildlife photographer and filmmaker, BBC drone pilot and new judge, Sam Rowley, wildlife photographer and former competition winner Catriona Parfitt.

Other category winners and runners-up in the main Awards included Molly Tolson (14), for her winning picture in the 12-15 mobile category of her pet lamb launching himself from a hay bale.

The runner-up in the Picture Perfect Pets category was Felix Maidment (12) for his photo of his new kitten with enormous bat-like ears.

Thomas Easterbrook (12) took an image of a busy flying bee which got a Commended award in the Small World category.

“I’m really pleased to see everyday, overlooked animals given some leverage here.” added Chris Packham. “It’s a new take on something very familiar that normally gets a bad press. From a wonderfully commanding image of a woodlouse that looks like an alien to the dynamic composition of two pigeons, one with a scabby foot, it’s nice to see so many creative photos of a range of wildlife and people’s pets in such a strong competition. It needs real imagination to make commonplace species interesting, and demonstrates that the photographer has been really innovative.”

You can see the full list of winners here.

Further reading
Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners revealed