Wiltshire teenager wins competition with lockdown deer photo

This winning photo of a deer during lockdown was chosen from a record 11,000 entries. Credit: Jake Kneale

A Wiltshire teenager has won a hat trick of prizes in the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2020.

17-year-old Jake Kneale from Pewsey not only gained first prize in two of the competition’s categories but the judges also named him overall winner.

'Mind Your Head', which showed a deer ducking under branches while going through a gate, not only won the Small World category - taken during lockdown in June - but was also singled out from a record 11,000 entries to become Overall Winner of the competition.

The Small World category was brought in specifically to recognise how measures to control the pandemic will have limited how far young photographers could travel to take their photos.

Jake said, “To get the deer image, 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.

"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.”

Jake’s photo of a deer really stood out to all of us on the judging panel. We felt it was a powerful and poignant representation of how wild animals started to claim back their land and habitats during the lockdown.

Chris Packham, Judge and awards host

Judge and naturalist Chris Packham adds, “The quality of entries this year as the competition celebrates its 30th anniversary has been astounding.  We felt that the lockdown ironically worked in all the young photographers' favour; they really did enter fantastic pictures."

Jake also won the portfolio category with his studies of mute swans at a lake near his home in Pewsey. Credit: Jake Kneale

Jake was also rewarded with the top spot in the portfolio category of the competition for his studies of mute swans.

He says he was inspired by the beauty and elegance of the birds and was very lucky to have a small private lake within walking distance of his home in Pewsey.

He says, "For some of the images in the portfolio, I used waders to get down to the water level and obtain a more intimate view of the swans and achieve cleaner backgrounds."

'Courtship Dance' - Jake was very pleased with the dark and light contrasts in this shot of a pair of mute swans. Credit: Jake Kneale

You can see the gallery of winners of the RSPCA's Young Photography Awards here.