Audun Rikardsen wins with a story about the interaction between fishermen and whales in North Norway
Who is the GDT?
There is a society or association for wildlife and nature photography in almost every European country. In Germany this is the Society of German Nature Photographers (Gesellschaft Deutscher Tierfotografen e.V. – GDT), a registered non-profit organisation since 1971 and one of the world‘s largest nature photography associations. In addition to members from Germany, Europe and overseas, numerous sponsors from the photographic industry including many well-known camera manu- facturers, specialist suppliers in nature photography, publishers and agencies, support the goals and the work of the GDT by their sponsor membership. The GDT‘s 15 regional groups and the group of young photographers meet regularly several times during the year for slide shows, the exchange of information and experience and to socialize and talk with people of the same interest. Guests are very welcome! Besides the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, they organise the Fritz Pölking Prize. Fritz Pölking was one of the founders of the GDT and a welknown “founder” of nature photography in Germany, Europe and the rest of the world. He was always keen to inform and inspire photographers in nature photography.
With his story on the “The polar winter feeding feast”, Audun Rikardsen from Norway has won the Fritz Pölking Prize 2016. This international prize awarded by the Society of German Nature Photographers (GDT) and Tecklenborg publishing house since 2007 in memory of the late Fritz Pölking, is given away annually to honour exceptional photographic work. This may either be a special wildlife photography project or a portfolio of individual photographs.
The jury, consisting of Gisela Pölking, Solvin Zankl, Patrick Brakowsky, Jan van der Greef and Paul Kornacker, initially proceeded through the first judging rounds with speed. Jury member Patrick Brakowsky: “The Fritz Pölking Prize allows the photographer to go beyond a single image, continuing the narrative of a subject, exploring it artistically as well as in content- related ways and thus finding his or her personal photographic language.” In the jury’s point of view, many photographers have not quite succeeded in doing just that. Instead of advancing a story, the series of images often got lost in repetitions, or they lacked coherence in both content and style.
Audun Rikardsen, however, succeeds in accomplishing a symbiosis between a powerful photo report and atmospheric wildlife photography. Patrick Brakowski: “He masterly knows how to use light – or rather darkness – using his self-built flash system in the depth of the polar winter to stage a humpback whale swimming and explosively exhaling air at the surface of the water in a rather mystical way. In another picture, he shows – in a journalistic vein – a more dangerous moment when an orca approaches the full nets of a fishing boat. Despite these seemingly contrasting styles, Audun Rikardsen remains consistent in his work, always showing the animals within the context of their environment or particular situation and telling his story with great familiarity and sincerity.”
Audun’s photography projects document the dramatic changes of the marine eco-systems in his home region, the onset of which began a few years ago during the winter months. His images tell of climate change and its consequences. Of North Atlantic herring shoals migrating for reasons unknown to certain fjords in the north of Norway to overwinter and of the effects this sudden abundance has on both fishermen and whales.
Audun Rikardsen is a professor of biology at Tromsø University. Originally, he worked as a fish biologist, but today his research focuses on the behaviour of whales. His grandfather was a whaler and so his interest for marine mammals was kindled from an early age. He often combines his photography with his scientific work, thus benefiting from his knowledge of local wildlife and habitat.
Quentin Martinez wins with a portfolio about the unexpected world in French-Guiana, Borneo and France
With his ambitious approach and powerful pictorial language, young Frenchman Quentin Martinez came out on top despite the always keen competition in the junior category. The biology student connects, similar to Audun Rikardsen, his scientific research with photography.
Jury member Patrick Brakowsky: “Quentin takes us with him into the tropical undergrowth, leads us to hidden places, plunges into amber-coloured rivers and grants us, as it were, insights into the vast habitat of very small animals. There is something mysterious often dark about his images, yet, they express a kind of fragility, voicing one of the central ideas of nature photography: the protection of nature and the environment.”
Martinez explains: “The power of an image is really important to me. It offers us the possibility to share our knowledge and feelings with others, and to encourage them to go out and experience nature for themselves. I firmly believe that children have to be introduced to nature: they should be allowed to throw stones into the water, blow the seed of dandelions into the air and catch grasshoppers …”
Quentin Martinez has been captivated by reptiles and crawlers from an early age. Later, he discovered photography as a way of sharing his experiences with others. While studying evolutionary biology, he spent two years in French-Guiana, where he contributed to the discovery of previously unknown frog species. Since returning to the south of France, Quentin is completing his degree and hopes to become involved in scientific research on tropical amphibians and reptiles later on.