The inaugural Luminar Bug Photography Awards launched this year in association with Europe’s leading invertebrate charity, Buglife. Having submitted over 5,000 weird and wonderful entries from across the globe, budding bug photographers were competing for a share of the total prize pool of £23,000 and now the winners have been announced.
Judged by the Buglife President, Germaine Greer, TV presenter and naturalist Nick Baker, and ground-breaking invertebrates photographer Levon Biss, the Luminar Bug Photographer of the Year 2020 top prize went to Mofeed Abu Shalwa. Hailing from Saudi Arabia, this skilled photographer began photographing invertebrates as a means of overcoming a phobia of insects. Now, he’s battled his demons and turned them to his strength, winning £2,500 alongside his title. The Luminar Young Bug Photographer of the Year 2020 went to 17-year-old Jamie Spensley from Solihull in the UK who took a stunning shot of a carder bee.
Now, we're getting this out of the way early and we don't mean to be pedantic Peters, but the organizers have obviously been quite generous with what constitutes a "bug" for the sake of the competition. According to Oxford Languages, the definition of a bug is a small insect and yet winners for the Luminar Bug Photography Awards include many spiders which, as we all know, are arachnids. An entertaining court case in the US earlier this year battled it out after an insurance company avoided fulfilling a claim after it said spiders were insects, a decision amazingly backed by the courts. The photography awards also include photos of octopuses ("aquatic bugs") and butterflies, which also don't technically fall under the bracket of bugs, but for the sake of enjoying some spectacular photography, we're choosing to overlook semantics and enjoy the incredible complexities of these varied and bizarre mini beasties.
“These awards showcase the incredible variety and complexity of the world of invertebrates and give those who photograph them an opportunity to have their talent recognised,” said Mike Betts, CEO of Photocrowd, in an emailed statement. “Our planet is facing an array of environmental and ecological challenges, and few more pressing than the huge recent declines in many invertebrate populations. We’re proud to be able to support Buglife’s crucial conservation efforts, and to use these awards as a means to carry their message about the plight of invertebrates.”
The "aquatic bug" category covered those invertebrates that live in or on water, including common bug-like minibeasts like water boatmen and water treaders, but also stretched to include octopuses, crayfish, crabs, and jellies.
In a year where many were stuck in their homes, the award served as a reminder of the incredible world unfolding on a miniature scale. The competition was launched to celebrate invertebrate photography, as well as raise awareness of the dwindling populations of many invertebrate species that play such a vital role in ecosystems. In raising valuable funds for the conservation organization Buglife, the awards will directly benefit the tiny subjects they champion.
“A huge congratulations to all the participants and winners,” said Matt Shardlow, Buglife CEO. “It is often said we only save the things we know and love. Sadly, this seldom applies to the bugs without whom life as we know it would come to an end. These awards will hopefully bring people closer to the beauty and value of our multi-legged friends. A big thank you to Luminar and Photocrowd for making this happen.”
To see all the winning images, runners up and shortlisted images, visit the Luminar Bug Photography Awards website.