A wildlife photojournalist who grew up in Leamington has been named the winner of one of the highest international photography accolades in the industry.
Aaron Gekoski’s emotive photograph won the ‘Wildlife Photojournalist: Single Image’ category at the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
Aaron, who attended Trinity School in Leamington, has been a photojournalist for more than eight years.
Currently based in Borneo, Aaron - also known as Bertie - presents wildlife and conservation shows on www.scubazoo.tv.
His images and articles have appeared in more than 40 publications including National Geographic Traveller, BBC Discover Wildlife and Men’s Health.
The 37-year-old is also presenting an upcoming series for Smithsonian Channel and is executive producer/presenter on a new series of feature length documentaries on global human-animal conflicts, called On the Brink.
This year was the first time that Aaron had entered the coveted Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and his entry, which is called ‘Palm-oil Survivors’, was chosen as the winning entry in the category.
The photo was taken in Borneo and shows three generations of Bornean elephants making their way across the terraces of an oil palm plantation, which is being cleared for replanting.
According to Aaron’s website, www.aarongekoski.com, elephants ‘wander into oil palm plantations to feed, where they come into conflict with humans, with elephants being shot or poisoned.’
Winning the award has meant a lot to Aaron. Talking to us from Borneo, he said: “For wildlife photographers it is the ultimate accolade.
“There are many wildlife photographers and photojournalists that enter the competition throughout their entire lives but never win.
“I entered for the first time and I knew it was a powerful shot. It is a huge deal to win.
“The competition travels to approximately 70 countries around the world. Attending the ceremony at the Natural History Museum in London I got to meet many idols of mine and people that are at the top of their game.
“To be able to meet them and speak to them and pick their brains a bit was a great experience.
“On a personal level, the photojournalist category is the most important as we are living in a changing world. The competition is starting to move more towards conservation - it is all very well having beautiful pictures of animals but we need to show the world is changing and what impact humans are having on it. Photography is an incredibly powerful tool to do that.”
Aaron believes that conservation can be entertaining as well as educational and is adopting a new approach ‘funservation’ through his world to spread the message to help wildlife. He said: “Conservation doesn’t have to be doom and gloom - it can be fun and fascinating and entertaining. I want to make these issues accessible to a world-wide audience. Photographers have an opportunity to use our skills to help wildlife. We are currently headed towards a world without tigers, great white sharks and elephants. And to me, that’s unthinkable.”
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is currently at the National History Museum, until May 2018.