Now in its 53rd year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the longest-running and most prestigious nature photography competition in the world. It is owned and run by the Natural History Museum in London. The competition uses photography to challenge perceptions about the natural world, helping to promote sustainability and the conservation of wildlife. The “Earth’s Environments” category celebrates the scale and magnitude of Earth’s landforms, the natural forces sculpting them or pure wilderness on a landscape scale. Laurent Ballesta’s iceberg photograph, the result of many hours of work during dives in freezing water temperatures, fits perfectly in this description. With the conviction that public awareness is vital to achieve the goal of preserving the world’s oceans, Blancpain is delighted about this well-deserved distinction rewarding Laurent’s talent as well as the exceptional photographic work done in the context of the Gombessa Project.
About Laurent Ballesta and the Gombessa Project
Laurent Ballesta is a marine scientist, a distinguished underwater photographer and a pioneer in the use of new diving equipment. Blancpain’s support has enabled him to capitalize on his talents through the Gombessa Project which has been conceived to advance the public’s comprehension of hitherto inaccessible and dimly understood undersea ecosystems. The project has already given rise to four major expeditions. With Gombessa III, Blancpain and Laurent Ballesta traveled to Antarctica for a pioneering exploratory, diving and photographic mission, in collaboration with Luc Jacquet, producer of The March of the Penguins. It was the first time a team of technical divers had been able to go beneath the sea ice in this region to deliver the very first naturalist images of Antarctica’s deep-sea ecosystems. At the request of several research groups, the team contributed to the inventory of deep-sea fauna and gave researchers access to all their photographs for the purpose of scientific publications.