Winners announced for inaugural BVA photography competition

08 July 2016

Vets Karen Coumbe and Stephen Powles have wowed the panel of judges, standing out from over 400 entries, to snap up the top prizes in the British Veterinary Association's (BVA) inaugural photography competition.

An equine vet with more than 30 years’ experience, Karen's photo of an operation on an infected hoof won the ‘You and your work’ category, whilst a photo of a bat in flight took the crown in the ‘Wonderful world of animals’ category for Stephen, who joined BVA in 1983.

Karen, a member of BVA since 1996 who currently works for Bell Equine Veterinary Clinic in Maidstone, said:
“I’m surprised, delighted and honoured to have won and grateful to my colleagues and clients at Bell Equine, who kindly tolerate my camera and I, with particular thanks to Dr Liz Barr, the equine specialist orthopaedic surgeon featured in the photograph. I was encouraged to enter the competition because I am fascinated by the amazing things I am privileged to observe in my day to day work, many of which provide exciting photo-opportunities."

Stephen, a companion animal vet from Park Hill Veterinary Clinic in Tiverton, Devon, said:
“I’m excited that the photo has received recognition – it was three years in the planning and not without an element of risk. The excitement on hearing that it had been recognised equated to the excitement that I felt when seeing it on the back of the camera for the first time! The bat in the photo is an Egyptian fruit bat and was one of a large roost of many thousand deep in a cave on Mt Elgon, Kenya. The bats exit the roost via a relatively small opening, making it the perfect location in which to photograph them.”

Find out more about the winning images and view all the entries on BVA's Flickr.

Due to the high standard of photographs entered the judging team of BVA President Sean Wensley, Chief Political Photographer of The Press Association Stefan Rousseau, Veterinary Record Assistant Editor Gill Harris and Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) President Hannah Mason had difficult decisions to make, however chose the winners based on their technical excellence, originality and how much they fulfilled the brief. Alongside the two winning images, four photos in each category also received Highly Commended awards.

Highly Commended awards:

You and your work

  • Snake undergoing anaesthesia by Lucy Crosby
  • Cat in consulting room by Pete van Donge
  • Badly injured street dog in Gujarat government run vet clinic by Kalyani Lodhi
  • Equine dentistry by Karen Coumbe

The wonderful world of animals

  • Tigers playing by Shareen Akhtar
  • Alpaca welcoming newborn herd member by Fiona Smith
  • Sparrows in flight by Ali Fakeri
  • Family of African elephants seeking shade by Siana Douglas-Hamilton

BVA President Sean Wensley said:

"There are many talents within the veterinary profession and spending time with animals, both inside and outside of their veterinary work, presents lots of opportunities for vets to capture eye-catching images. All the judges were excited to see the photographs that our members submitted, documenting the working lives of vets and the veterinary team and capturing the animal world through a vet’s eye.”

Stefan Rousseau, Chief Political Photographer of The Press Association, said:

"With an overall high standard of entries, choosing the winning pictures was a difficult task and took the judges several hours. But after much discussion we unanimously decided on Stephen Powles’ picture of the Egyptian Fruit Bat in flight. Its technical excellence combined with what must have been a long wait in difficult surroundings makes this photograph very pleasing to the eye. Many a professional wildlife photographer would be very happy with this picture themselves and both composition and lighting clearly makes it the stand out winner.

"Karen Coumbe’s photograph of an operation on a horse’s hoof is so clear in its depiction of a vet’s everyday work and illustrates perfectly the theme, ‘You and Your Work’. The lighting tells us this is in a surgical environment and the viewer is immediately aware of what’s going on. A very well executed photograph both technically and editorially makes it a great advertisement for the work of BVA members.”

Karen and Stephen both receive £250 worth of photography vouchers, and the winning photographs will be printed in the September issue of BVA News and an exclusive exhibition will be on show at BVA’s Members’ Day in Bristol this September.