A sixteen-year-old from Farnham has won the RSPB Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his stunning image of a coot taking flight at Frensham Little Pond.

Max won first in the overall young category at the British Wildlife Photography Awards for his photograph ‘Running on water’.

He also received a highly commended award in the 15-17 years category for another image, ‘Predator meets prey’.

Max first got into wildlife photography three years ago aged 13. He started by taking photos of the birds that visited his garden feeders.

Describing the moment he took the award-winning photo, Max said: “I woke up at 4.45am with hope of capturing backlit waterfowl images at Frensham Little Pond.

“I lay down at the edge of the pond and waited for the birds to become active. As the morning progressed, rays of sunlight began to shine through trees along the edge of the pond, creating spotlights in the morning mist.

“This created a beautiful atmosphere, which I aimed to capture in my images.

“This coot was fleeing a fight, running across the water to take flight through the mist and rays of light.”

Director of the British Wildlife Photography Awards, Will Nichols, said: “It is the use of light that creates such a fantastic atmosphere, with that bold silhouette of the coot running across the water. Often, it takes many years to be able to work so effectively with light – but in this case, Max has excelled!

“You can see from Max’s story that time spent in the field working behind the camera pays off. Stick with it that’s the best advice anyone could’ve given me as a young photographer back in the day!”

Max Wood's highly commended photo (Predator meets prey) that received a highly commended award in the 15-17 years category.
Max Wood's highly commended photo, ‘Predator meets prey’, received a highly commended award in the 15-17 years category (Max Wood)

Max’s photography largely consists of wildlife in Surrey in which Max aims to capture atmosphere, habitat, stories and characteristics.

Max said “I feel very proud to have won the title of RSPB Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Wildlife photography is something that I would definitely want to pursue as a career and hopefully I can win more awards in future.“

Max next plans to photograph fox cubs and badgers this spring.

The British Wildlife Photography Awards’ Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year category is supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to encourage young people to get involved with nature.

Entries are now sought for the 2025 British Wildlife Photography Awards – with winning photographers taking home a share of the almost £10,000 prize fund.

Photographers aged under 18 can enter up to 10 images for free in the RSPB Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year category. Adult categories include Animal Behaviour, Animal Portraits, Botanical Britain, Black & White, British Seasons, Coast and Marine, Habitat, Hidden Britain, Urban Wildlife and Wild Woods.

This year’s winning photos will be exhibited at Nunnington Hall in Yorkshire from May 18 to July 7, and at Nature in Art in Gloucestershire from July 23 to September 1.

Find out how to enter online at www.bwpawards.org