Agent scoops international photography prize for wildlife shot

By Kelly Ranson
09/04/2024
Home » Agent scoops international photography prize for wildlife shot

A travel agent has beaten thousands of photographers from around the world to win a prestigious award after capturing a shot in Brazil.

Ian Ford, who owns Select Travel in Horsham, West Sussex, is the winner of the ‘Natural World and Wildlife’ category at this year’s Sony World Photography Awards.

More than 395,000 images were submitted, but the 59-year-old’s photo, ‘Caiman Crunch’, of a jaguar striking an alligator on a river bank in Brazil, wowed the judges.

Ian and his partner Naina Mehta, who is also co-owner of Select Travel, went to Brazil’s Pantanal region last year for a mix of work and holiday as it is one of the best areas to spot jaguars.

He said: “It is always easier to sell a country once you have visited it and we had been getting many enquiries about the region, it seemed advisable to visit and see for ourselves how wonderful a country it is. I had a British Airways companion voucher for the transatlantic flights and also had some good trade rates on many of the properties on this occasion.”

Describing how he captured the winning shot, the self-taught photographer said he left his hotel on the São Lourenço River at dawn to scout for jaguars on his last day in the region “We were about to return to the hotel when we received a call about a sighting,” he said. “My boat immediately headed over there and upon arrival observed a female jaguar stalking along the edge of the river, then she climbed onto the river bank. Suddenly without any warning the jaguar pounced on an unsuspecting caiman.

“Fortunately, my boat was in a good position and I had my camera ready and was able to shoot images of the drama.”

Ian and Naina have owned Select Travel since 1995, and he said his extensive travels have provided many opportunities to delve into wildlife photography.

“I have gone on fam trips in the past, invariably they have been occupied with hotel visits. I haven’t been on any that have been wildlife-based and therefore haven’t had the chance to further my skills on one. I’m sure they exist, I just haven’t been invited to one, yet!”

Ian’s upcoming trips include visiting Svalbard in June with Albatros Expeditions and the Himalayas in December with Indus Experiences to photograph red pandas and snow leopards.

On winning the award, Ian added: “I  really was delighted to win, it is a very prestigious worldwide award. I knew as soon as I checked my camera that I had a good image, but to have it placed first in the Natural World and Wildlife category is amazing.”

Ian’s prize was digital imaging equipment from Sony and he will now compete for the title of ‘Open Photographer of the Year’ which will be announced at the opening of the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition at London’s Somerset House on 18 April.

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