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Gemma Keys: Framed for success
By Martin Barber
Gemma Keys has beaten thousands of photographers to earn a coveted place in the final of the RSPCA Young Photographer Of The Year competition 2007.
Alligator by Gemma Keys (detail)
Gemma Keys' stunning photograph of an alligator is one of 33 animal pictures to feature in the final of the prestigious RSPCA Young Photographer Awards. The picture has been selected from more than 10,000 entries.
Eighteen-year-old Gemma, from Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, is no stranger to the competition, having won the 12 to 18 category in 2006.
"I never expected to be short-listed again, it feels like winning already. An alligator is not normally something that I'd photograph and this one I particularly loved and thought I'd enter it," said Gemma.
"I'm always taking my camera with me, places like the Fens and the Broads and we happened to go to Thrigby Hall. I loved the alligators and managed to get the shot. It's all in his eyes, he's thinking something.
"The alligator's skin was just fantastic and what really appealed to me was the design on its body so I tried to capture the real detail in the alligator’s face – to create a picture that was really different," she added.
The RSPCA competition is in its 17th year with the quality of photographs entered for the annual competition as high as ever.
"The Young Photographer Awards has always been a difficult competition to win, but 2007 will be the toughest yet. The standard of the entries has been exceptionally high," said Andrew Forsyth, chief RSPCA photographer.
"Gemma has come up trumps again with another striking and unusual photo. The judges were particularly impressed by her sophisticated use of abstraction... the contradiction between the menacing eye and the 'smile' created by the curve of the mouth adds an engaging extra dimension.
"Gemma certainly has an eye for the unconventional," he added.
As Gemma plays the waiting game for the RSPCA final at the Natural History Museum later in the year, her skills have already netted her an award in 2007 - winning the teenage category in the Banham Zoo Photography Competition 2007 for her image of an owl.
Gemma admits that taking photographs of any kind is a pleasure, but shots of the natural world are her first love.
Grey Owl by Gemma Keys (detail)
"I'd say my favourite is wildlife, but I love vapour trails as you can get some great shots. I love flowers. They're my favourite things – wildlife, nature, the Earth," she said.
The photographic work of wildlife presenter Chris Packham and marine zoologist Mark Carwardine play an inspirational role in Gemma's life. Shooting on an Olympus E5-10, her first digital SLR, Gemma hopes her passion will lead to a career.
"I can't think of anything better than to have the job of taking photographs of animals and nature and some day I really hope to make that come true," said Gemma.
"But it's very competitive, you've got to have the edge, you've got to have something special. I'll never give up, I'll always keep taking pictures - even if it never becomes a career.
"I want to try and get my work displayed, maybe see if I can get some of my work known. I'd love to have some work in a gallery," she added.
The final of the RSPCA Young Photographer's Competition will be held at the Natural History Museum on Friday, 14 December, 2007.
last updated: 17/10/07