Picture-perfect ponies and puppies pip competitors to the post in third BVA Veterinary Photographer of the Year competition

18 September 2018

This year's competition attracted over 500 entries

Companion animal vets Peter Myatt and Stephen Ashman have clinched top spot in their respective categories in the third annual British Veterinary Association's (BVA) Veterinary Photographer of the Year competition, which saw more than 500 entries from vets across the UK offering a unique insight into the daily life of a vet and the wonderful world of animals.

PDSA vet Stephen Ashman captured the judges' attention with his stunning image of a pair of wild ponies in the ‘All creatures great and small' category, while Peter Myatt, who graduated from Nottingham University this summer, won in the ‘Human:animal bond' category with Best part of a job, which shows a laid-back 10-week-old cocker spaniel puppy lounging contentedly on Peter's lap.

Winning photos

Of his winning photo, Peter Myatt, who recently began working at a Bicester-based veterinary practice, said: “This photo was taken whilst on placement in Chipping Norton as a student. The puppy was in to have her second vaccinations and a general health check after she had been with her new family for a week, and she was on my lap so that I could calm her, examine her, and socialise her. Working in the veterinary world is by no means easy, which is why moments like this are so important. Everyone needs a puppy cuddle!”

Stephen Ashman said, “I had a great day out photographing these wild grey ponies on a similarly grey January day on the Long Mynd, a heath and moorland plateau in the Shropshire hills. I was simply out on a photo walk to take in the scenery and wildlife, look for a good shot and get a breath of fresh air; I'm chuffed that the judges have selected it as a category winner!”

For the first time this year, a specially curated selection of photos was also opened to vote by BVA members. The winner of the first Members' Choice Award, receiving more than a quarter of the votes cast, is Shepherd's Delight by Australia-based vet Liz Bailey.

Commenting on the striking image of her two dogs- Bea, a Border Collie and Bonnie, an Australian Kelpie- on a warm summer's evening on Aldinga Beach, South Australia, Liz said: “This photo is a combination of what makes me happy- a warm summer's evening on the beach with my dogs. It's amazing what you can achieve with an iPhone, a sunset and a couple of willing volunteers!”

The judging process

The high standard of entries made picking winners a difficult task for the judging panel, which included David Tipling, one of the world's most widely published wildlife photographers, BVA President John Fishwick, Veterinary Record Assistant Editor and photographer Gill Harris, and Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) President David Charles. Winning images were chosen based on their technical excellence, originality and how much they fulfilled the brief.

Commenting on the judging, wildlife photographer David Tipling said:

“Helping to judge this year's competition was for me a fascinating insight into a vet's working life. Photography, like any art form, is subjective, but I was looking for pictures that had been composed and thought about and most importantly would linger in the mind long after they had been viewed. Much debate and discussion led us to some clear favourites from which to choose two overall winners.”

Mr. Tipling added:
“The winning shot [by Stephen] is beautifully composed, has a symmetry and used the dark and light tones of the ponies to complement each other, resulting in a striking image that we were all drawn to. I was drawn to [Peter's] image partly by its abstract nature; on first view it is not obvious the dog is on someone's lap. It is a strong, engaging image and because of that slightly abstract feel means it stays long in the memory.”

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:

“We received an impressive number of outstanding photos for the third year in a row, and the judging panel truly had their work cut out. Their vet's-eye-view of the wonderful and varied facets of veterinary work as well as interaction with the fascinating world of wild animals is a testament to our colleagues' skills both within and outside practice.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to the winning and commended photographers, and to those who missed out, know that it was a very tough decision!”

Peter and Stephen each receive £250 worth of gift vouchers from John Lewis & Partners. Their winning images alongside the commended photographs will premiere in an exhibition at BVA's Members' Day in York on 20 September.

Highly commended photos

Alongside the two winning photographs in the ‘Human:animal bond' and
‘All creatures great and small' categories, six other photos in each
category also received a Highly Commended accolade. Images ranged from
an adolescent gorilla in Rwanda and a fox caught red-pawed stealing a
pear to a pine marten undergoing an X-Ray on its jaw after a road
traffic accident.

The
following photographs received the Highly Commended awards:

Human:animal bond

All creatures great and small

The full gallery of the 2018 BVA Veterinary Photographer of the Year Competition shortlisted entries is available to view on BVA's Flickr gallery.

Entries from the 2017 and 2016 photo competitions are also available to view on Flickr.

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