Animals show their silly side in Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

 (Courtesy Angela Bohlke/Comedy Wildlife Photography )

Professional photographers and amateur travelers spend hours staking out the perfect scene to capture wildlife in all its glory.

From lions hunting to gazelles leaping, weve all seen the classic pictures of majestic animals in their natural habitat.

But animals arent majestic 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes they can be pretty funny.

Thats the idea behind the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. Now in its second year, the CWPA seeks out the lighter side of animal photography featuring dozens of “lol-worthy” pictures of critters of all shapes and sizes.

From a smiling frog, to a fox with its head stuck in the snow, these pictures are sure to put a smile on your face.

What a smile! Courtesy of Artyom Krivosheev #winasafari #photography #comedy #cwpa #wildlife #funny #frog #happy

A photo posted by Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards (@comedywildlifephoto) on

But the message behind the seemingly silly contest is to promote a serious message of conservation.

I dont think its the funny images themselves [that] are helping promote conservation, Paul Joynson-Hicks, the founder of CWPA and a professional photographer tells Its  the fact that so far this year we have had 810,000 people who have looked at our website and hopefully from that, they can glean some understanding that a conservation problem exists.

Joynson-Hicks works closely with the Born Free Foundation, a U.K.-based charity that works globally to combat animal suffering and protect threatened species.  The photographer hopes that this lighthearted contest will raise awareness for the work that Born Free is doing. With more images, comes more awareness.

This year, CWPA received entries from 75 countriesabout half of which came from photographers based in the U.S. and the U.K.

Third place. 2015 awards. #comedy #comedywildlife #gorilla #funny #funnyanimals

A photo posted by Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards (@comedywildlifephoto) on

Winners of the contest will get to go on a safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya led by Joynson-Hicks, a Nikon D810 camera and a handmade trophy.

The finalists for this year have already been chosen and the winner will be announced during a ceremony on Nov. 9.

Read more:

A man studied photography in prison. These are the photos he took when he got out.

A man studied photography in prison. These are the photos he took when he got out.

When Donato Di Camillo was a kid, his family couldn’t afford film for their Polaroid camera.

So instead, he ran around the house with a film-less camera pretending to be a hotshot photographer on an African safari, mimicking the heroes behind iconic photos he saw in the discarded National Geographic magazines his dad grabbed for him out of the garbage.

Years later, when Di Camillo found himself in prison after collecting a lengthy rap sheet of thefts, he discovered a library full of those same magazines.

While other inmates were working out or getting into trouble, he pored over old issues of National Geographic, Life, and Time.

He was in pure awe of the photography their pages held inside.

So when he got out of prison in 2011, Di Camillo knew what he wanted to do.

Finally, he was free to try his hand at his own brand of photography. And with a little guidance from some how-to books he read while locked up and a few YouTube tutorials, he went to work.

Pretty quickly, it was obvious he had plenty of talent.

He began to capture a different side of life than what many people are used to seeing.

He sometimes calls it “the fringe,” though he said it’s important to him that people know he means no disrespect by that.

Read more:

Saving the giant panda population through photography

(CNN)Ami Vitale has got President Obama beat.

In China, where the photographer was documenting panda activity, her work was so well received that Wolong National Nature Reserve program director Zhang Hemin allowed her to hold two baby pandas. (The leader of the free world only got to hold one.)
But this was not Vitale’s first passion. She was originally a conflict photographer covering violent war zones around the world.
    Nature photography came calling after Vitale decided to take a six-month break: “I was covering these conflicts for quite a long time, and I was burned out and had post-traumatic stress disorder. I told myself I was going to take six months off — I needed that to just heal.”
    An environmental charity called The Nature Conservancy offered her the chance to “see all the beauty and the magic that exists everywhere,” as she describes it. Vitale abandoned her six-month break and seized the opportunity.
    What followed included a lengthy series called “Kenya’s Last Rhinos” about rangers caring for the handful of remaining white rhinos in the world.
    “I’ve been on this mission to go and tell these stories about people risking their lives,” Vitale explains. “(The rangers) are taking care of these animals all day long, fighting off lions, fighting poachers, and (the rhinos are) like their own children.”
    Unfortunately, despite the efforts of rangers and Vitale’s documentation of their efforts, she says the white rhino is “functionally extinct.” However, on the other side of the world, Vitale has been able to share a success story: it was recently announced that the giant panda is no longer an endangered species.

    “A minor miracle”

    Pandas Gone Wild” depicts what Vitale calls “a minor miracle”: a program at the Wolong National Nature Reserve releasing captive born pandas back into the wild.
    “It turns out that after one generation in captivity, pandas forget how to live in the wild, and you have to train them,” she explains.

    Photo by @amivitale on assignment for @natgeo. Wolong Reserve keepers transport Hua Jiao (Delicate Beauty) for a health check before she finishes “wild training.” The habitat also protects red pandas, pheasant, tufted deer, and other species that benefit from giant panda conservation. Read the @natgeo story in the August issue and online through the link in my profile. @natgeo @natgeocreative @thephotosociety @nikonusa @instagram #nikonusa #nikonlove #nikonnofilter #nikonambassador #nikond4s #wolong #sichuan #china #climatechange #conservation #natureisspeaking #savetheplanet #photooftheday #photojournalism #panda #pandas #babypanda #ipanda #giantpanda #pandacub #amivitale

    A photo posted by Ami Vitale (@amivitale) on

    Embedded with the program, Vitale had to work incognito, wearing a panda suit laced with their scent, so as not to unsettle the bears.
    Vitale finds plenty of common ground between the animals and their human carers.
    “I think all of us, every creature, is a big mystery,” the photographer says.
    She suggests the key is to give the subject enough time to reveal themselves. Vitale should know, having been an “incredibly shy, introverted and gawky” child before picking up a camera.
    “The first time I held a camera it became this incredible tool for me to go out and engage with the world,” she remembers. “Suddenly I realized that I didn’t have to be afraid of people. And so photography became my passport to really go out and feel empowered.”
    More of Vitale’s work on pandas is available in the August, 2016 issue of National Geographic Magazine and at this link:

    Read more:

    Original Observer photography: October 2016

    Original Observer photography: October 2016

    Reportage from Hillary Clintons presidential campaign; the dispossessed of Johannesburg; and stars of stage and screen all feature in this showcase of the best photography commissioned by the Observer this month

    Read more: