National Geographic Russia Honored Best Photographers

The awards ceremony of the 2012 Wildlife of Russia national photo competition and the opening of the eponymous exhibition of the best works from that contest were held at the Lumiere Brothers Photography Center on December 13. The ceremony brought together famous photographers as well as friends and business partners of the Russian Geographic Society and National Geographic Russia magazine. Among them were National Geographic Society chief explorer Enrique Sala and Paul Nicklen, an internationally renowned polar photographer and regular contributor to National Geographic.

Honored guest and Russian Geographic Society President Sergei Shoigu gave the opening address at the awards ceremony. He was followed by National Geographic Russia editor-in-chief Alexander Grek, who in turn invited Enrique Sala to address the guests.

Next it was time for the most important and intriguing part of the event: the announcement of the winners. Paul Nicklen and Sergei Shoigu took the stage and together opened the envelope containing the name of the first place winner of the 2012 Wildlife of Russia competition. Natalia Belentsova took the honor for her photograph “The Treasure of the Gnomes” taken in the caves near the Mutnovsky volcano on Kamchatka. Ms. Belentsova was given a certificate for the grand prize of 300,000 rubles ($9,800).

Photo contest general partner BonAqua presented the award in the new environmental category “A Clean Future for Lake Baikal.” Anna Kozlovskaya, director of external relations and communications for Coca-Cola Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, took the stage to announce the winner. The award went to Rostislav Mashin for his photograph “Sunrise from Cape Burkhan.” Mr. Mashin received a certificate for a trip to Lake Baikal to be organized by BonAqua.

The winners in each of the categories for 2012 were:

Birds: Ilya Ukolov for his photograph “Games in the Snow.”
Close-Up: Vadim Trunov for his photograph “Descending.”
Mammals: Yury Sorokin, for his photograph “High Water.”
Underwater photography: Alexander Semenov for his photograph “Medusa before Sunset.”
Sunrise to Sunset: Dmitry Zhukov for his photograph “Yin and Yang.”

The Russian Geographic Society awarded its special prize for young talent to 16-year-old photographer Alexander Popkov of the Stavropol region. Mr. Popkov was given a certificate inviting him to the historical building housing the Russian Geographic Society in St. Petersburg.

Hewlett-Packard, technical partner for the 2012 Wildlife of Russia photo contest, awarded a special prize to Alexander Kuzmin for his photograph titled “Hunting.” Mr. Kuzmin received a certificate permitting him to print a portfolio of his work on the wide-format HP Designjet photo printer at the HP demo center in Moscow.

Guests stayed on long after the awards ceremony ended, viewing the photo exhibition, conversing, visiting the buffet, giving interviews and sharing their impressions with one another. The ceremony was broadcast online at for those who could not be present.

The Wildlife of Russia photo exhibition, featuring more than 100 works by contest winners and finalists, will be on display at the Lumiere Brothers Photography Center from December 11, 2012, through January 13, 2013, after which it will travel around the Russian regions.

More information about the ceremony and winners can be found at

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