Round Two of Amateur Photographer of the Year 2024 (APOY) is now open for entries! The theme is Animal Kingdom, so we want to see your best wildlife and animal photos – all things great and small. Three of last year’s entrants share their tips for entering this round

The Animal Kingdom category reflects photographers’ appreciation of and love for the animal world. Images of domestic animals are as welcome as wildlife, so whether it’s wildebeest in the Serengeti or your dog having a romp in the local woods, we want to see shots celebrating mammals, birds, insects, everything. Try telling the viewer a story about the way a creature lives by showing it in context – be that an urban fox foraging around dustbins, or a seagull stealing chips from a tourist. Or go the other way and fill the frame with the head of a lion…or your pet cat.


Round Two, Animal Kingdom guest judge: Ben Hall

Ben Hall profile shot

Your guest judge for Round Two, Animal Kingdom, is one of the UK’s leading wildlife photographers, Ben Hall. As someone who previsualises his images, he frequently returns to the same location in an attempt to capture the perfect shot. He’s won over 20 awards in the British Wildlife Photography Awards, and has appeared on BBC One’s Walk on the Wild Side, The One Show and Countryfile. Visit

Tips for entering APOY 2024: Animal Kingdom

If you’re planning to enter our Animal Kingdom round, take these tips from three of last year’s top ten photographers

Steve Santel, California

Canon EOS R5, 600mm, 1/4000sec at f/4.5, ISO 125

long-tailed weasel at full stretch, suspended in mid-air. animal round apoy

Steve came first in last year’s wildlife round with this long-hoped-for action photograph. The judges said: ‘It’s Steve’s superb timing skills and anticipation that make this shot a winner.’

‘Wildlife photography is my passion. I have been extremely blessed to be able to travel far and wide in search of interesting subjects to photograph. One animal that ranked high on my list, but eluded me time and time again, was the long-tailed weasel. I had visited the winter wilderness many times in search of a weasel in its white coat. Finally, on a frigid January day while exploring Yellowstone National Park’s interior, I spotted one pop out of the snow. It darted across the frozen landscape, only to disappear into a hole in the surface. I watched the snow intently in hopes of seeing it reappear.

Eventually, the search for food brought it closer to me, and I took advantage of the one and only chance I’ve ever had to photograph one of these little animals. Handholding a 600mm lens while staring at the super-bright, snow-covered valley, looking for an equally bright, fast-moving subject was challenging. Somehow, I was able to visually lock onto one of its mad dashes, while managing a handful of images before it disappeared into another hole. I didn’t see the weasel again, but I’ll never forget the experience of watching this tiny predator using all of its resources to survive in an extremely harsh environment.’

Richard Coulstock, Edinburgh

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM, 1/320sec at f/8, ISO 800

green-crested lizard against red background animal kingdom apoy

Richard came ninth in last year’s round with his image of a green-crested lizard. The judges said: ‘The composition is confident, and the judges liked that Richard hadn’t felt pressured to include the lizard’s whole body in the frame.’

‘My image of this green-crested lizard largely came about by accident. I visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens intending to shoot flowers with my Canon 180mm macro lens. However, as I wandered through the Orchid Gardens, I spotted this lizard happily making his way through one of the flower beds. I cursed a little for being ill-equipped, as the 180mm lens is notoriously slow to focus, but thankfully, the lizard paused, and I managed to get a few shots before he headed off again.

‘The reddish flowers in the background made a lovely background setting, and the qualities of the lens ended up helping the shot in this regard: the sharpness expected of a macro and the shallow depth of field gave a smooth background. I was lucky with its positioning, the colours in the frame and the fact that there were no foreground distractions. I had time to compose the shot and for the lens to lock focus on the lizard.
‘In photography, it often pays to be observant and to be on the lookout for an interesting shot. In addition, a slice of luck never goes amiss. Finally, as we all know, the best camera (or lens!) is the one you have on you!’

Graeme Youngson, Aberdeen

Fujifilm X-T5, XF 90mm F2 R LM WR, 1/1000sec at f/2, ISO 125

posse of pigeons roosting on a bus shelter on a wet day in Glasgow

Graeme came second with his unusual perspective on pigeons, and was the top choice of last year’s guest judge Keith Wilson: ‘The way the lines of the glass panels of the shelter divide the frame symmetrically helps strengthen the overall composition.’

‘I’ve always been interested in urban pigeons and have been fascinated from a young age by stories of their intelligence and homing abilities (particularly in times of war where their skills and speed were used to great effect as messengers). They divide public opinion but are very much part of our urban lives wherever we are in the world; and are a tricky and fascinating subject to photograph.On the one hand, they are one of the easiest of wild animals to get close to, but on the other they pose a photographic challenge because of their rapid movement and change of direction. Getting them in focus and freezing their action while maintaining a relatively low ISO is a nightmare! It’s a real bonus therefore when you can capture them sitting still for a moment.

‘Glasgow city centre is always full of pigeons so I had my camera to hand. I’d been taking photos of individual pigeons close up, but switched to a moderate telephoto to try for some shots of them in groups.

‘The photo here is of pigeons using the glass shelter at the entrance of a station as a vantage point. Below them is the very busy pedestrian precinct of Argyle Street, where they know that the people sitting on the many benches will drop pieces of food – either accidentally or on purpose – for them.

From a photographic point of view, I liked the opportunity to take pigeons from an unusual angle and I loved the way they looked as though they were standing to attention in an almost symmetrical line. I was able to capture this shot before the pigeons swooped downwards seconds later. The glass cover and metal beams contrasted strongly with the outlines of the pigeons to suggest to me that a high-contrast black & white approach might work well.’

See our animal and wildlife photography guides for more inspiration:


The camera club award

Do you belong to a camera club? You can accumulate points for your society when you enter APOY, and after all the ten rounds are complete, the club with the most points will win a superb ViewSonic X1-4K projector worth £1,500, with image quality powered by advanced 3rd generation LED technology that offers a 60,000-hour lifespan without lamp replacement. In addition, the member of the winning club who contributed the most points to their club’s overall tally will win a ViewSonic ColorPro VP2786-4K monitor worth £1,000.

The Young APOY award

For the fourth time, we are running an APOY Young Photographer of the Year competition, to encourage our up-and-coming snappers. Entrants should be 21 or younger by the competition’s final closing date of 31 December 2024. All the categories are the same as for the main contest – simply select the Young APOY option on Photocrowd when you upload your images. Entry is free. Each category winner receives a one-year Adobe Photography Plan subscription, worth £120. The overall Young APOY winner receives a £500 voucher to spend at Camera Centre UK*.

swallow emerging from a farm building animal kingdom apoy round
Eric Browett came fourth in last year’s wildlife category, using a remote release to capture this ultra-fast-moving swallow

What you could win

APOY prizes:

The winner of each round of APOY receives a voucher for £500 to spend at Camera Centre UK*. In addition to this, the winner of each round will also receive a one-year subscription to Adobe’s All Apps plan, worth £660. The runner-up of each round will receive a one-year subscription to Adobe’s Photography plan, worth £120. The overall winner after ten rounds wins a £1,000 voucher to spend at Camera Centre UK.

Young APOY prizes:

The winner of each round of Young APOY receives a one-year subscription to Adobe’s Photography plan, worth £120. The overall winner of Young APOY will receive a £500 voucher to spend at Camera Centre UK*.

Camera club prizes:

The camera club with the highest number of points after ten rounds will receive a 4K ViewSonic projector worth £1,500, while a ViewSonic monitor worth £1,000 will go to the club member who contributed the most points to the winning club’s final points tally.


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See more from APOY here.

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