2021 Drone Photo Awards: Winners showcase unique perspective of aerial photography


posted Monday, September 20, 2021 at 9:45 AM EST


The Drone Photo Awards have announced the 2021 winners. The contest's categories include Wedding, Nature, People, Urban, Animals, Abstract and Sport for single still images. There's also an Open category for video and a Series category for photographers to enter five to nine images on the same theme. Among these categories are many fantastic photos from talented photographers around the world.

In addition to category winners, the Drone Photo Awards also includes a Photo of the Year. This year, Terje Kolaas took home the top honor for a photo of thousands of pink-footed geese flying in central Norway. The birds were on their way to Svalbard in the Arctic. The geese make the same journey every year on a predictable path, so Kolaas was ready to capture the migration with a drone.

'Pink-Footed Geese Meeting the Winter,' Image by Terje Kolaas / Drone Photo Awards

Kolaas's image earned the highest score among judges in the contest. The grand prize includes €500 worth of photography equipment, a 'Pangea Prize' crystal statuette, exhibition at the 'Above Us Only Sky' exhibition, advertising in the international press and online publication. Winners in each category receive the same prizes, save for the photography equipment. Runners-up receive a certificate and exhibition. Additional prizes include commendations.

We've selected some other winning photos to share below. If you'd like to see all the selected images, click here.

'Metaphorical Statement about City and Winter,' by Sergei Poltaev / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – Urban. 'A 500-year-old monastery in the Moscow region and a large power plant in the background. The steam from the cooling towers is particularly dense due to severe frost.'
'Back to Adventure,' by Qasim Al Farsi / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – Wildlife. 'Green turtle heading back to water after laying down eggs in her peaceful nest at Oman coastline between Ras Al Jinz and Rashad turtle reserve.'
'Hippopotamus group from above,' by Talib Almarri / Drone Photo Awards. Highly Commended – Wildlife. 'Hippopotamus group from above creating an amazing pattern. All hippos are adults except one baby who is in the center.'
'Emus of the Salt Lake,' by Gary Steer / Drone Photo Awards. Commended – Wildlife. 'Emus running in shallow water on Lake Gairdner, a salt lake in central Australia.'
'Gold at the End of the Rainbow,' by Phil De Glanville / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – Sport. 'I found gold at the end of this rainbow as surfer, Ollie Henry, escapes a monster wave off the coast of South West Western Australia.'
'Wrong Way Buddy!' by John Cowpland / Drone Photo Awards. Highly Commended – Sport. 'A lone cyclist goes against the tide during the "Big Easy" cycling event in Hawkes Bay. The event attracts hundred to cycle the regions cycle paths on Easter weekend.'
'Fishing in Mangrove Forest,' by Trung Pham Huy / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – People. 'A fisherman starts his fishing day in the mangrove forest in the lagoon of Tam Giang in the Hue province. Mangroves lose all their leaves and turn white during the winter season.'
'Pray for Souls,' by Phu Khanh Bui / Drone Photo Awards. Highly Commended – People. 'In the full moon of July, as part of the Vietnamese culture, women put on the traditional costumes called 'Ao Dai' to join the colored lantern and flower-garland releasing festival on the river to pray for happiness and good luck to their families.'
'Extragalactic,' by Martin Sanchez / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – Nature. 'The intense and glorious moments during an erupting volcano with an exclusive view from the inside. Captured in Iceland.'
'Entrance to Another World,' by Laura Bennett / Drone Photo Awards. Commended – Nature. 'In a remote, rugged canyon in Utah, sunset lit the walls of the canyon to provide a surrealistic impression. It reminded me of cinematic productions of other worlds.' 
'City of Angels,' by Silvano Paiola / Drone Photo Awards. Commended – Nature. 'In the beginning of November I spent some days around some Serbian Villages. That day was a typical autumn day and the sky was solid gray. I stayed about three hours flying above the area looking for some interesting photo-spot. The area is widely covered by one of the largest poplar forests of Europe.'
'Poisoned River,' by Gheorghe Pola / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – Abstract. 'This is a detailed photograph of one of the small rivers filled with poison. 'Poisoned Beauty' is a personal project that tells the story of the natural disaster in the 'Apuseni Mountains', but in a beautifully abstract way. This abstract colorful pattern is created by nature combined with the chemical waste resulted from the copper and gold mining process.'
'Duoyishu Terraces,' by Ran Tian / Drone Photo Awards. Highly Commended – Abstract. 'A spectacular aerial view of the famous Duoyishu terraces where rice is grown. The shades of colors of the different levels of the rice fields create a unique effect.'
'Verso L'Infinito Insieme a Te,' by Matteo Originale / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – Wedding. 'Marina di Pisa, a late summer evening at sunset... I spotted those clouds on the horizon and I decided to place the couple towards their infinity full of love.'
'Water Skies,' by Raïs De Weirdt / Drone Photo Awards. Commended – Wedding. 'It isn't every day that you have a sincere opportunity to capture an image like this. Giving everyone a glimpse into the mind of the newlyweds.'
'Red Fire Retardant Blankets Town in Oregon 05,' by Adrees Latif / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – Series. 'In 2020, Oregon bore the brunt of nearly 100 major wildfires raging across Western United States, one of the most destructive on state record. On the morning of September 8, flames from a human caused fire started in nearby Ashland. Driven by over 40 mph winds, the Almeda fire quickly spread through retirement communities, trailer home parks, malls and businesses. In just a few hours, half of Talent was left in ashes. Experts call the fire an urban conflagration, one that burned through dry grasslands, riparian areas with dense fuel loads and through urban areas with densely packed residences. In apocalyptic scenes, the town of Talent was left blanketed in a red flame retardant dropped by aerial firefighting efforts in hopes of saving the town. Three fatalities were reported, 3000 residents were displaced and nearly 3000 structures over a nine mile area were destroyed.'

'Ice Ballet,' by Nestoras Kechagias / Drone Photo Awards. 1st Place – Video (Open).

Ice Ballet - Ilulissat, Greenland - 4K from N. Kechagias, A. Lykoudi on Vimeo.

(Via Digital Photo