June 27, 2022
Amateur photographer Andrew Interisano, who works in digital advertising, has won the inaugural Urban Wildlife Photography Awards for his photo of two Coyotes on a dimly lit suburban street in Ontario, Canada.
The free photography awards were organized by the London-based global photography platform Picfair in honor of an enduring trend in photographing urban nature, which spread during Covid lockdowns.
The competition saw more than 6,000 photographers, from hobbyists to professionals, submit their photos from every continent in the world.
The entries featured animals including pigeons, foxes, lizards and squirrels enjoying urban life from London to Melbourne.
The winners were determined by Philip Mowbray, Picfair’s head of content and guest judges including professional wildlife photographers Melissa Groo (USA), Andrew Budziak (Canada) and Will Burrard-Lucas (UK), plus urban wildlife writer and author Florence Wilkinson ( UK) ).
About the overall winning photo, judge Melissa Groo commented: ‘The composition and atmosphere of this photo are beautiful. I love the play between light and dark, and the coyote’s eerie, almost sinister glowing eyes in the dark. Even before reading the caption, you can see a story unfolding here. And I appreciate the photographer’s desire—after he grabbed a few shots—to put the camera down and experience a truly special, wild moment to the fullest.”
See below to discover the stories behind the main winning images…
Date Night by Andrew Interisano (Canada)
Overall winner, 31-year-old Andrew Interisano, explained the story behind his image, “I thought it was my car that caught their attention as I turned the corner, and maybe it did at first, but when I rolled down the window I heard it was another group of howling coyotes who had their interest.” awakened. I parked, turned off the engine and frantically fiddled with the camera… but in the rush of that moment, I was soon forced to put my camera down and enjoy the scene.
As urban centers become more environmentally friendly and hospitable to wildlife, it becomes increasingly important that they and individuals take responsibility when it comes to teaching about ethical coexistence with urban nature. There has been much debate in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake about the coyote population as a result of some recent altercations with small dogs and their owners, including my own brother and his miniature poodle, Gordie.
These altercations usually take place because the coyotes are fed, directly or indirectly, by humans, which encourages and increases their proximity tolerance to humans, opening the door for these creatures to be unfairly demonized. It’s not an easy task, but I believe all of this can be mitigated through ethical urban planning, public education and education, and stricter enforcement of wildlife feeding laws.”
Interisano won a Nikon Z 6 II camera with a 24-70mm lens (worth £2649), a Lifetime Picfair Plus subscription (worth £90 per year) and its winning photo as a framed print of 30 x 20cm.
Winner – Life Beyond the Sewer by Austin Montero (US)
A photo of a rat coming out of a city sewer in Mexico won the Nightlife category. Austin Montero explained, ‘Previously, my hobby was researching the behavior of sharks and photographing animals in the wilderness. But the pandemic forced me to stay in a small town for the past two years. This led me to find different animals that used different parts of our city. I am surprised by the number of urban structures used by many species. They take shelter under bridges, move through aqueducts or nest along roads. But usually we don’t notice it.’
Winner – Window to the Salt Pan by Mano Aliczki (Hungary)
This image of a flamingo, taken on vacation in Italy by Hungarian zoologist Mano Aliczki, revealed: ‘I spent a short holiday in Sardinia, Italy, a beautiful Mediterranean island famous for its huge colonies of greater flamingos. While researching the subject for the trip, I realized that a former salt evaporation site just outside Cagliari, the largest city on the island, had been turned into a national park.
Home to one of the largest flamingo colonies on the island, this national park in Sardinia allows for photographing flamingos with the town and the now-abandoned salt-evaporating facilities as a backdrop, creating exciting composition opportunities. I was able to capture the moment when a feeding flamingo ran into a wooden frame in a dike on a salt pan.
Excited to see you here category
Winner – Trash Panda by Jill Finney (Canada)
The category was determined by a public vote on social media, going for an image of a raccoon in a ravine near a subway station, captured by photographer Jill Finney, who only fulfilled her dream of becoming a wildlife photographer during the lockdown.
Finney revealed, ‘I’ve dreamed of photographing wildlife since childhood and only got serious about shooting when I was almost 50, during the covid lockdown when I decided it was time to fulfill my own Nat Geo dreams. even if they were just squirrels in the backyard.”
Other Notable Mentions
More notable shots include disabled wildlife photographer Jenny-Louise Read’s ghostly photo of an urban fox at 2 a.m. in Kent, an impeccably lit photo of a pigeon taken at night in central London by the 16-year-old physics student Oliver Schultz and what appears to be a long-legged bird homage to the infamous sketch of Monty Python’s ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ in Australia.
Urban Fox by Jenny-Louise Read (UK)
Read revealed, “I went out to take this photo because foxes, while common in most parts of my country, are rarely seen here. Especially for me, silent ghost hunters in the night! I wanted to capture the grunginess of the street as well as the elusive personality of my local foxes. I’m a disabled one-armed photographer so my goal with my photography is to a) take amazing photos of the world’s most magical creatures and b) show the world that being disabled doesn’t mean I can’t! †
Illuminated by Oliver Schultz (UK)
Schultz explained, “I was walking back from Victoria Station on a cold English evening and the twilight was fading. A chill breeze blew through the air and as I looked around I saw a lone dove crouching against a warm light, waiting for the night to pass.’
Free kick by Cheryl Rogers (Australia)
Rogers explained, “This is a photo of an Australian native Brolga bird.”
The category winners won an Everyday Backpack 20L, Slide Strap and Carbon Fiber Tripod from Peak Design (the Daylight category prize, worth over £850), a Garden Camera Trap bundle from Camtraptions (the Nightlife category prize, worth £354) and £500 of MPB vouchers (the price of the Fancy Seeing You Here category).
They all received a Lifetime Picfair Plus subscription (valued at £90 per year) and their winning photos as 12 x 20 cm framed prints.
During the height of the pandemic, viral images of urban wildlife spread, and the fascination with wildlife snapshots in our cities has continued to grow.
The number of Urban Wildlife images on Picfair has more than quadrupled since 2019, and City Nature Challenge† one of the largest global databases of urban wildlife, made a record 1.2 million observations last year.
View all winners
You can view a gallery of all the finalists and winners on the Picfair website.
You can purchase prints of the winning images – all Picfair profits from the sale of prints go to the global conservation non-profit organization Re:wild†