From its ground-level angle, Sam Rowley’s photograph of two tiny mice fighting over crumbs looks like an epic battle fit for the big screen. The London Underground station appears as cavernous as a stadium, the station platform now a boxing ring. Yet, many of the passing commuters and late-night straphangers likely never noticed such a scuffle of that small scale.
With its innovative point-of-view and miniature scurrying subjects, Rowley’s “Station Squabble” beat out 48,000 images to earn him a top prize, the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People’s Choice Award, on February 12. The competition was hosted by London’s Natural History Museum, which selected 25 finalists out of all the eligible entries to be voted on by the public.
Rowley, a 25-year-old researcher at the BBC and semi-pro photographer, staked out the underground mice from dusk until the near dawn for about a week. He told CNN that he got the idea from a friend’s video of mice fighting in the station. “With the majority of the world living in urban areas and cities now, you have to tell the story about how people relate to wildlife,” Rowley said. “Wildlife is fantastic and I think we need to appreciate the smaller and supposedly more difficult animals to live with.”
“The mice’s behavior is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard,” Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said in a press release. “This image reminds us that while we may wander past it everyday, humans are inherently intertwined with the nature that is on our doorstep — I hope it inspires people to think about and value this relationship more.”
Among the “highly commended” nominees is Aaron Gekoski’s soulful portrait of an orangutan forced to perform in a boxing outfit and Michel Zoghzhogi’s striking photo of a jaguar mother and cub grasping an anaconda in their jaws. Visitors can view many of these photos and more at the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition that will run until May 31, 2020.