People & Culture

Two Canadian photographers shortlisted for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award

Martin Gregus and Brittany Crossman are two nominees for the prestigious competition developed and produced by the National History Museum

  • Dec 01, 2022
  • 890 words
  • 4 minutes
Photo: Martin Gregus / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
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A pair of red foxes nuzzling together amidst a snowy backdrop and a polar bear cub basking in the sunlight surrounded by a mass of purple fireweed – both intimate moments of nature captured by two talented Canadian wildlife photographers.

Martin Gregus and Brittany Crossman are among the 25 shortlisted nominees for this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award run by the National History Museum in London, England. Over 38,575 entries from 93 countries were submitted for selection, including a hyena on the highway, a huddle of golden snub-nosed monkeys and a young perch trapped in the thumb of a surgical glove. 

Martin Gregus is no stranger to the National History Museum and is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Rising Star Portfolio Award in 2021. 

Gregus’ nominated photo, Among the flowers, features a polar bear cub named Beans enjoying the sunshine surrounded by vibrant purple fireweed north of Churchill, Manitoba. Beans is just one of the bears Gregus has become familiar with while working on an extensive project, 33 Days Amongst Bears, aimed to show how polar bears live in the Arctic summer with little to no snow. 

“People are used to seeing polar bears alone and in the snow, but they are not used to seeing these intimate pictures. It gives people a different perspective,” says Gregus. “We aren’t trying to take away from the fact that they’re in danger, but I feel like we get hit over the head all the time with the idea of climate change and how much we need to do, but there are also beautiful stories like this picture that can show us another side to the story.”

Since he was eight years old, Gregus has been passionate about photography, working on projects with his dad, who is also a photographer. In 2015, he had the opportunity to visit various areas of the Arctic, including Churchill, where he saw polar bears in a summer climate for the first time. After that, Gregus worked to develop a relationship with the bears in this area, which he says is key to his success in photographing them. 

“That’s why they all have names too,” he says. “The idea of our work and the photos is to say to people, let’s build a connection with these bears, and once others have that strong connection, they’ll hopefully be more inclined to protect them.”

To Gregus, this nomination is more than just a physical award but a chance to connect with others in the profession and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. 

“We live a very secluded life as wildlife photographers, and we give up most of our life to film animals, so when we are given a chance to be around people, especially those a part of the industry, it’s spectacular.”

Photo: Brittany Crossman / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
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For Crossman, the nomination is also something that will encourage more people to focus on the beauty of nature and the wildlife that exists in Canada. 

“WPOTY has so many talented photographers with jaw-dropping images entering year after year,” says Crossman. “So it is a huge honour to have my photo selected as one of the 25 People’s Choice nominees.”

Based out of New Brunswick, Crossman has been passionate about the natural world from a young age, and her photographs often depict Canadian wildlife at its best. Earlier in 2022, Crossman was named the Canadian Wildlife Photographer of the Year by Canadian Geographic and has continued to amaze viewers with her exceptional images. 

Crossman’s nomination for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award, Fox affection, features two red foxes cuddled together with bright and happy faces in a snowy passage of eastern Ontario. Crossman explained how this photo was meaningful because she rarely sees them interacting with her specialty. Even though she dedicated the day to this species, she never expected to capture this powerful moment. Crossman continues to photograph wildlife for this reason. 

“These images, for me, are a glimpse into the emotional lives of animals. The photos create wonder to what they are thinking or feeling, and I feel like there is still so much unknown and to learn with regards to wildlife.”

Crossman’s passion for photography was always focused on animals. She started photographing different species, like frogs, with a disposable camera when she was eight years old and continued into adulthood. She now teaches wildlife workshops for people who are also interested in nature photography and is excited to continue to improve her skills. 

“Right now, I have been focusing on exploring urban wildlife. I have set up camera traps and have been trying to improve my skills at that. I hope in the future; I will get to see other parts of the world, photographing different species. In particular, I’d love to go photograph brown bears in the west coast of Canada or Alaska.”

Voting is open to the public and will close on Feb. 2, 2023. Winners will be announced on Feb. 9, when the top five images will be showcased online, along with the winners of the 58th Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition announced earlier this year. 

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