Whitechapel teacher wins competition with un-bee-lievably good snap

A WHITECHAPEL teacher has won a wildlife photography competition with an usual picture of a bumblebee.

Louis Berk, 55, who is head of sixth form at Swanlea School in Brady Street, Whitechapel, won the adult section of the Life Between the Lines competition, run jointly between the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and London Underground.

Mr Berk said capturing the bee’s image was a stroke of luck.

“It was really funny how I got the picture because my wife and I were talking about the diminishing bee population in the UK in June when I went outside my front door and was surprised to see all these bees sitting in the head of the artichoke plants in the front garden.

“I couldn’t resist photographing them.”

Mr Berk rushed inside and grabbed an ordinary consumer camera and a step ladder and started snapping.

“I use a rather unusual technique,” he added. “Instead of a very high aperture I use a shallow one. I’m more interested in the shapes and the colours.

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“It gives you a sharp point of focus and that was the bee’s wings. I’m fascinated how the bee had flown into the plant and had very carefully wrapped its wings together.

“It shows anybody with a camera can take a photograph like this. It’s not the camera, it’s the perspective and the opportunity.”

Mr Berk, who lives in Camden Town, is usually more interested in social documentary and has released two books of his work, one featuring walks around Whitechapel and another of shots showing a day in the life of his school.

Life Between the Lines was created to showcase London wildlife.

RSPB London manager Martyn Foster said: “This competition shows what an amazing variety of wildlife can be found in London, but better still, it brings out the best in Londoners. Every entrant had a special connection with the images they captured.”

Mr Berk won a photography masterclass with renowned photographer Iain Green, who was one of the judges, a pair of binoculars, a bird feeding kit, wildlife book and family pass to The London Transport Museum.