Calling all Yukoners; one of your own needs humble support.

Photographer Peter Mather is a finalist in the biggest natural wildlife photography competition in the world.

It’s called Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and is co-produced by the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, and the BBC.

Everybody who’s anybody in the wildlife photography business has their eyes set on the prize. Winners get a free trip to London for the awards ceremony, but they can also get their photo displayed at the NHM in a major exhibition, which tours worldwide throughout the year.

Contestants can submit up to twenty photos, which are broken down into a number of categories such as underwater worlds, animal behaviours, and urban wildlife.

Mather is a finalist in a new category, the People’s Choice Award, which was created this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the contest. It’s no small feat for Mather, considering that there were 42,000 entries vying for 50 spot in the finals.

Mather has entered this competition for the last ten years, and only one time did he get a photo into the finals. This year a staggering fourteen of his twenty photos made it.

He credits this success to his recent jump to photo journalism, and considers it an honour.

“You get to go to London and meet top editors and professionals from around the world,” he says. “Your photo gets seen by millions of people, and it’s a giant boost in your career.”  

A win in the People’s Choice category could also help propel Mather into the spotlight, perhaps opening the door to one day win the coveted Photographer of the Year award, which was won by Mather’s mentor and fellow Canadian, Paul Nicklen in 2012.

The photo that took Mather to the finals is what he considers his best photo from 2013. Taken at Fishing Branch Territorial Park, it depicts a Grizzly sniffing at a salmon in the river. What’s unique about this beautiful photo is that it was taken above and below the water line, showcasing both grizzly and salmon in perfect hi-def resolution —  a spectacular shot that Mather is proud of.

As soon as he saw it he knew it was worthy for the contest:

“I try to get unique photos, as soon as I got it, my first thought was that this has a real chance for a prize at wildlife photography of the year awards.”

At the same time in this banner year for Mather, he also became a finalist at the Banff Film Festival’s 2014 Mountain Photo Essay Competition. The contest requires two to five photos that illustrate a mountain-related story about the wilderness, culture, natural history, and adventure.

Mather chose his passion-piece, “People of the Caribou”, which was featured in last month’s What’s Up Yukon. The winners are chosen by public vote, and most of the finalists already have a huge fan base.

This doesn’t deter Mather who has faith in his own fans:

“Yukoners have always been supportive of my work, and supportive of arts in general I’m confident that a lot of people will take the time to vote.”

You can show your support by casting a ballot at these links:

2014 Banff Mountain Photo Essay Competition:

 http://www.banffcentre.ca/mountainfestival/competitions/photo/voting/

2014 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition:

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/wpy/community/peoples-choice/2014/32/whats-this_.html