Bird photo soars at international competition

Former Salmon Arm resident and wildlife photographer John Marriott was one of the winners in a competition that had 48,000 entries

John Marriott’s unique image of a common bird gets kudos at a prestigious

John Marriott’s unique image of a common bird gets kudos at a prestigious

The bird may be a common sight, but the pose is not.

An unusual photo of a raven has won former Salmon Arm resident John Marriott the runner-up prize in the Animal Portraits category of the world’s most prestigious wildlife photography competition, the 2012 Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Marriott’s image, Fluff-Up, an engaging portrait of a feathery, puffed-up common raven from Jasper National Park, was one of just 100 winning photographs chosen from more than 48,000 entries from 98 countries.

“The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is like the Oscars of wildlife photography and the Animal Portraits category is akin to being runner-up in the Best Actor category,” explained Marriott.

Now in its 48th year, the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is an international showcase for the best in wildlife photography.

Two British institutions that champion the natural world, the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide, own and administer the competition.

Every year, thousands of entries pour in and are judged by an international jury of photography experts.

One of Canada’s most well-known and respected wildlife photographers, Marriott entered the maximum allowable portfolio of 20 photos.

“I actually thought some of my other photos would do better, I thought it was pretty funny looking,” says Marriott of the raven that first appeared as a shapeless lump of puffed-up black, squatting in the middle of a snow-covered road. “It’s a unique shot of a very common animal.”

So unique, it was chosen as the official banner image representing the 2012 competition winners.

Exposure will also come on a series of products associated with the 2012 Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which will be on display at Victoria’s Royal BC Museum Nov. 30 to April 1, 2013.

Marriott was raised in Salmon Arm and graduated from SASS in 1987.  His father, Roger, sister, Dianne (Middleton), and brother, Scott, still live in the Shuswap.

Marriott has sold images in more than 45 countries around the world and is the national wildlife photography columnist for Outdoor Photography Canada magazine.

He has sold 40,000 books, more than 140,000 greeting cards  and is working on another book.

He spent 250 days out in the field, from Nunavut to B.C. and Alberta last year and led would-be wildlife photographers on tours to the Chilcotin, Great Bear Rainforest and on coastal whale-watching excursions.

Like many other Canadians, he is opposed to the Enbridge pipeline proposal.

“I just think it’s too big of a risk to take with our salmon, compared to the economic benefits,”  he says. “They talk about creating all the jobs, but they don’t talk about the jobs that would be killed if there was  an oil spill – including mine.”

Marriott’s books are available at Bookingham Palace in the Mall at Piccadilly.