Wild horse picture tops world photography contest

Scott Wilson's image Anger Management has won first place in the Natural World and Wildlife category of the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards. Wilson was also named Open Photographer of the Year.
Scott Wilson’s image Anger Management has won first place in the Natural World and Wildlife category of the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards. Wilson was also named Open Photographer of the Year. © AWHC

A photograph of a wild stallion has won photographer Scott Wilson two top awards in the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards contest, which had more than 170,000 entries.

Wilson’s black and white image of the stallion, titled Anger Management, won first place in the Natural World and Wildlife category and earned Wilson the Open Photographer of the Year prize, announced this week by the World Photography Organisation. It was taken in the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area in northwest Colorado.

The Sony World Photography Award is considered one of the world’s most prestigious photography awards. The recognition of Anger Management elevates the plight of America’s wild horses to an international audience and calls attention to their inhumane treatment by the US federal government.

It was the first time that Wilson had entered the competition.

Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, but now a resident of Denver, Colorado, Wilson is a board member of the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC).

Summing up the image, he said: “Anger Management puts the wild horse question in the minds of people that are suddenly seeing this image, seeing a stallion pounding the ground and really starting to question what’s going on with American mustangs.

“But the tension and the drama for me just felt completely symbolic of the challenges these horses face in the American West today, where they basically are under permanent threat of roundup and their land has invariably been cleared for the cattle industry.”

He said learning more about the challenges the horses are facing compelled him to try to do something about it.

“I think like a lot of people, I was drawn to the horses because of the fairy tale of the American mustang. Even living in Britain, we’re aware of this kind of myth and beauty of the American mustang and the West.

“I was incredibly lucky to capture it on my first visit,” Wilson said. “I spend a lot of time in Sand Wash Basin. I’m there for three days at a time. I’ll sleep in my car. So basically I’m there from the moment the sun comes up to the moment the sun goes down, capturing wild horses.”

Wilson worked in the brewing industry in Britain, and was also a landscape photographer. He and his family moved to Colorado in 2015 for his job as chief corporate affairs officer for the Molson Coors Brewing Company. He described the Colorado landscapes as “absolutely exhilarating”, and the family spent their first year there touring every corner of the state.

Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson. © AWHC

But a year after moving to the US, Wilsons was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. One of the medications caused severe sun sensitivity, which meant he could no longer go out with his skin exposed to the sun. He solved that problem by buying a long-range lens to photograph wildlife from inside his car.

He uses a 600mm lens, sometimes with a teleconverter which takes it up to 850mm. “That allows me to see all the action close up, but from a great distance.”

Wilson sits on the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s young onset advisory board and has worked with the American Cancer Society to give presentations to large Colorado companies about the benefits of colon cancer screening for both employers and employees. He has also produced a coffee-table book, Through The Window: A Photographic Tale of Cancer Recovery, with all of the proceeds going to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. It has raised $US40,000 so far.

Photographing mustangs has led him to become a board member of the AWHC, the leading wild horse protection organization in the US, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide.

“Joining a team that’s completely committed to wild horse conservation was something that was very motivating to me, the opportunity to advocate on behalf of these horses that literally cannot speak for themselves. And it’s something that I might try and do through my lens.”

AWHC president Ellie Phipps Price congratulated Wilson on the awards. “We are so grateful that Scott is devoting his time and considerable talents to saving the iconic wild mustangs of the American West. We congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition and hugely impressive accomplishment.”


Latest research and information from the horse world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.