BVA Veterinary Photographer of the Year 2023 unveiled

British Veterinary Association announces category winners – Vets at work, All creatures great and small; and Happy pets that make us smile

Three red-billed oxpeckers hunting for insects on the back of a young giraffe in the Kwantu Game Reserve, South Africa; a young calf feeding from its mother whilst a vet tends to the mother’s unsutured muscles following a c-section; and Winnie the dog playing excitedly on a beach. These are the three stunning images taken by UK vets which have been selected as winners of BVA’s Veterinary Photographer of the Year 2023.

The winning images were selected from nine finalists, shortlisted from hundreds of entries that were taken by vets, both in their professional and private lives. The much-loved competition, which is hosted by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and sponsored by iM3 Dental, awards a winner and a highly commended in three categories – Vets at workAll creatures great and small and Happy pets that make us smile.

The winners

Vets at work winner – #Colostrumisgold by Sophie Aylett

Farm animal veterinary surgeon Sophie Aylett won the Vets at Work category, with her emotional image #Colostrumisgold. This captured the moment a young calf was up and on the teat before the cow’s muscle layers were even sutured up following a c-section.

Sophie said: “I was very surprised to win with my photo of a newborn calf standing next to me during the closing phases of surgery. I’m not that slow at suturing up, it’s just the calf was very alert and standing before I finished! For me this photo encapsulates the best parts of farm vetting: prompt decisions, safe handling, great outcomes, teamwork. I’m very proud to be a farm vet and exceptionally pleased this photo will be seen by current farm vets and hopefully will inspire future farm vets from all walks of life to pursue a veterinary career.” 

All creatures great and small winner – On the Shoulders of Giants by Katherine Edmondson

Katherine Edmondson won the All creatures great and small category with her photograph On the Shoulders of Giants. Taken at sunrise at Kwantu Game Reserve, South Africa, this image shows three red-billed oxpeckers hunting for insects on the back of a young giraffe in the early hours of the morning.

Katherine, who is a third year Veterinary Medicine student at the Royal Veterinary College, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have my photograph selected as the winner of the category, especially against such impressive entries. I was on a morning visit to a game reserve with a local vet in South Africa, when the sunrise highlighted the small oxpeckers on the backs of the giraffes, frantically flying to and fro. With the giraffe curiously watching us, I managed to capture the moment all three birds landed on its back, creating the image representing all creatures great and small.”

Happy pets that make us smile winner – Jumping for joy by Sam Price

Small animal practice vet Sam Price won the Happy pets that make us smile categorywith his photo Jumping for Joy, which features Winnie the dog, who loves nothing more than a beach day.

He said: “I am delighted to be the winner of this photo category. I took the image of my dog, Winnie, while on a campervan trip on the north coast of Ireland. She loves nothing more than a beach day as you can see so I felt this was a fitting photo for the brief. Thankfully there was a rare bout of sunshine on the day which made for some nice lighting and Winnie is pretty photogenic, which always helps!”

The finalists

Two highly commended entries were also chosen for each category. The finalists were:

Vets at work:

·       A Gentle Touch by Sam Price. A Ring-tailed Lemur gently grasps the vet’s finger while recovering from an anaesthetic.

·       Mopping the Brow by Justyn Loveridge shows some light relief after a long procedure.

All creatures great and small:

  • Roe Buck Running by Jenny Grewal, who photographed this roe buck as he ran through the mustard flowers in the fields of an estate on the Wiltshire-Hampshire border.

·       Cheeky Munch by Lilia Silva, who had gone to a local park in London to take photos of birds but couldn’t resist capturing a cheeky squirrel munching away on some berries.

Happy pets that make us smile:

·       Snow Focused by Alice Watson. Rusty the dog on a snowy day in Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds.

·       Sheep-a-Doodle Do! by Charlotte Clough. A car boot overflowing with six 12-week-old puppies, in a vet surgery car park.

This year’s judging panel – consisting of BVA President Malcolm Morley, vet and social media influencer Cat Henstridge and iM3 Sales Manager Sue Emmerton – were impressed by the quality of the images and how well they captured the categories they were entered into.

BVA President Malcolm Morley said: “We were highly impressed by the quality of the entries in this year’s competition, from the composition of each image to the high standard and crispness of the photos. This competition is an opportunity for our incredible vets to showcase their talents outside of their practice.

“The winning images stood out to us for many reasons, but we particularly liked how each one captured the essence of the category it was entered into; Sophie’s image of a c-section on a cow was so touching and really demonstrates the daily life of many of our valued farm vets; Katherine Edmondson’s photograph of the giraffe and red-billed oxpeckers was stunning but also truly embodied the All creatures great and small element; while Sam Price’s photo of Winnie the dog literally jumping for joy stole our hearts and genuinely made us all break out in smiles.

“Congratulations to all the winners, and also a huge well done to all the finalists as well, it was a really tough decision but you should be proud of the incredible photographs you entered and your talents.”

Vet and social media influencer Cat Henstridge said: “This has been a really amazing experience, I have been blown away by the entries this year. I have always been proud to be part of this profession, for the hard work vets do each and every day and it has been so special to see the talents they have in their lives outside work. Well done to you all.”

iM3 Sales Manager Sue Emmerton added: “It was so interesting to see the range of subjects captured in this year’s competition, from tiny robins, to wildlife in Africa, from vets comforting animals as they come out of anesthesia to vets cheering each other on after long procedures in the operating room. There are some incredibly skilled vets out there – well done!” 

The very first BVA Veterinary Photographer of the Year People’s Choice winner is still to be announced. This prize has been created to give BVA Live delegates the chance to vote for their favourite image from the judges’ shortlist during the event. Members will be able to make their choice at BVA Live, which runs from May 11 – 12, with the ‘People’s Choice’ winner being announced in the weeks following the event.

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