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Incredible aerial photography shows the world in ways you've never seen

drone photo awards 2021
(Image credit: Over the last few years, drone photography has become increasingly popular. They offer photographers an alternative view of the world and no longer cost the earth. The Drone Photography Awards 2021 feature some of the most beautiful aerial images from the last year. Split into eight categories, each section has an overall winner, a runner up and a series of highly commended and commended images. The categories include Urban, Wildlife, Sport, People, Nature, Abstract, Wedding and Series. Read more: Best drones for aerial photography Tens of thousands of photos were submitted this year from 102 different countries showing the wide and varied use of drones. They’ve been used to shoot everything from wildlife behavior to ethereal cityscapes to abstract perspectives looking down on earth and even people ‘sunbathing’ on ice. The overall winning image came from Norwegian photographer Terje Kolaas. Titled ‘Pink Footed Geese Meeting the Winter’ the photo shows a flock of thousands of pink-footed geese flying over snow-covered ground towards Svalbard. The urban category showcases a selection of images featuring man-made objects and buildings against a background of nature. Sergei Poletaev took 1st place with a photo of a 500-year-old monastery in the Moscow region pictured with a large power plant in the background. Commended for the image ‘12.44’, Pal Szilagyi Palko shows an aerial view of a church in Geamana, Romania, flooded with toxic wastewater. The top of the church tower is still just about visible as it was built on the highest hill in the village. Taking the top spot in the Wildlife category, Qasim Al Farsi documents the journey of a green turtle heading back to the sea after laying its egg on the coastline of Oman. Second place goes to Igor Altune who’s image ‘Fast Food’ depicts hyenas and vultures waiting to feed on the carcass of a buffalo in Zambia after it was killed by lions. Using drones to take photos of sports gives a fresh perspective of some of our most loved activities. Making the most out of the position of the sun, John Cowpland, Lampson Karmin Yip and Louis Du Pisani use interesting shadows to make theirs images of cyclists, a basketball player and a skater stand out. The winning image portrays the surfer Ollie Henry escaping a monster wave at the end of a rainbow while off the coast of South West, Western Australia. Humans are fascinating creatures and the People category documents an array of activities we get up to around the world. From sunbathing on ice in the Almaty region of Kazakstan to collecting water from dried out river beds and harvesting red chillis in Bangladesh, the images in this category show the pleasures and struggles of everyday life. The Nature category includes jaw-dropping images that remind you of the power and beauty of mother earth. Martin Sanchez captured the moment a volcano in Iceland erupted and won first prize with the shot. Other astonishing images include a capture of Lake Natron in the Great Rift Valley where salt-loving algae turn it bright red and half-submerged trees in the Zanzibar Archipelago at high tide. If you’re looking for wedding photos with a twist, hire a photographer with a drone. These stunning images capture a couple’s biggest day from a distance and yet feel so intimate. Winning photographer Matteo Originale set the couple against a backdrop of dramatic clouds as the bride was led by the groom into their happily ever after. Finally, the Series category showcases a body of work documenting one subject or style of photography. It includes incredible abstractions of ice and minerals, colourful fields and beautiful abandoned buildings. Address Latif came first for his series ‘Blanketed in Fire Retardent” which illustrates the devastating effects of the 2020 Wildfires that raged across Oregon. The overall winner won over $50,000 dollars of photography equipment, a “Pangea Prize’ crystal statuette, work displayed at “Above Us Only Sky’ exhibition, advertised in international press and in the online gallery. Prizes will be given during an awards ceremony at the Teatro dei Rinnovati” in October. )

Over the last few years, drone photography has become increasingly popular. Drones offer photographers an alternative view of the world and no longer cost the earth. The Drone Photography Awards 2021 features some of the most beautiful aerial images from the last year.

Split into eight categories, each section has an overall winner, a runner up and a series of highly commended and commended images. The categories include Urban, Wildlife, Sport, People, Nature, Abstract, Wedding and Series.

• Read more: Best camera drones

Tens of thousands of photos were submitted this year from 102 different countries showing the wide and varied use of drones. They’ve been used to shoot everything from wildlife behavior to ethereal cityscapes to abstractions of the world. 

The overall winning image for The Drone Photo Awards 2021 came from Norwegian photographer Terje Kolaas. Titled ‘Pink Footed Geese Meeting the Winter’ the photo shows a flock of thousands of pink-footed geese flying over the snow-covered ground towards Svalbard. 

The urban category showcases a selection of images featuring man-made objects and buildings against a background of nature. Sergei Poletaev took first place with a photo of a 500-year-old monastery in the Moscow region pictured with a large power plant in the background. Commended for the image ‘12.44’, Pal Szilagyi Palko produced an aerial view of a church in Geamana, Romania, flooded by toxic wastewater. 

(Image credit: © Qasim Al Farsi - Drone Photo Awards 2021)

Taking the top spot in the Wildlife category, Qasim Al Farsi documents the journey of a green turtle heading back to the sea after laying its egg on the coastline of Oman. Second place went to Igor Altune whose image ‘Fast Food’ depicts hyenas and vultures waiting to feed on the carcass of a buffalo in Zambia after it was killed by lions. 

Using drones to take photos of sports gives a fresh perspective of some of our most loved activities. Making the most out of the position of the sun, John Cowpland, Lampson Karmin Yip and Louis Du Pisani use interesting shadows to make theirs images of a cyclist, basketball player and skaterboarder stand out. The winning image portrays the surfer Ollie Henry escaping a monster wave at the end of a rainbow while off the coast of South West, Western Australia.

Humans are fascinating creatures and the People category documents an array of activities we get up to around the world. From sunbathing on ice in the Almaty region of Kazakstan to collecting water from dried-out river beds and harvesting red chillis in Bangladesh, the images in this category show the pleasures and struggles of everyday life. 

The Nature category includes jaw-dropping images that remind you of the power and beauty of mother earth. Martin Sanchez captured the moment a volcano in Iceland erupted and won first prize with the shot. Other astonishing images include  Lake Natron in the Great Rift Valley where salt-loving algae turn it bright red and half-submerged trees in the Zanzibar Archipelago at high tide.

If you’re looking for wedding photos with a twist, hire a photographer with a drone. These stunning shots capture a couple’s biggest day from a distance and yet feel so intimate. Winning photographer Matteo Originale set his couple against a backdrop of dramatic clouds as the bride was led by the groom into their 'happily ever after'. 

Finally, the Series category showcases a body of work documenting one subject or style of photography. It includes incredible abstractions of ice and minerals, colorful fields and beautiful abandoned buildings. Address Latif came first for his series ‘Blanketed in Fire Retardent” which illustrates the devastating effects of the 2020 Wildfires that raged across Oregon.

The overall winner won more than $50,000 worth of photography equipment, a 'Pangea Prize’ crystal statuette, work displayed at 'Above Us Only Sky’ exhibition, advertised in international press and in the online gallery. Prizes will be given during an awards ceremony at the Teatro dei Rinnovati in October. 

Scroll below to see some of this year's entries or head to the Drone Photo Awards website for the full gallery.

(Image credit: © Sergei Poletaev - Drone Photo Awards 2021)

(Image credit: © Gilad Topaz - Drone Photo Awards 2021)

(Image credit: © Reza Bagheri - Drone Photo Awards 2021)

(Image credit: © Terje Kolaas - Drone Photo Awards 2021)

(Image credit: © Phil De Glanville - Drone Photo Awards 2021)

(Image credit: © George Steinmetz - Drone Photo Awards 2021)

(Image credit: © Hugo Healy - Drone Photo Awards 2021)

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Hannah Rooke

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specialises in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylised product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.