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Beastly but beautiful: these close-up photos of bugs are simply breathtaking!

‘Red palm weevil’ by Mofeed Abu Shalwa, who has been crowned Luminar Bug Photographer of the Year 2020. (Image credit: Mofeed Abu Shalwa)

The winners have been announced in the Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020 (opens in new tab), in association with Europe’s leading invertebrate charity, Buglife. 

The grand prize winner, and ‘Luminar Bug Photographer of the Year 2020’ is Mofeed Abu Shalwa, a Saudi Arabian photographer who incredibly started photographing invertebrates as way of overcoming his childhood phobia of insects. Having now conquered his fear, he not only wins the title but collects £2,500 ($3,275) in cash, and additional prizes worth £2,000 ($2,600).

Over 5,000 images were submitted from around the globe, competing for a total prize pool of $30,000 / £23,000. 

Jamie Spensley from Solihull in the UK has been crowned ‘Luminar Young Bug Photographer of the Year 2020’. Jamie is 17 years of age, and in his second year at college studying Creative Media. He won with a technically brilliant shot of a carder bee, and takes home over £1,200 worth of prizes.

“3…2…1.. Take off!” An acorn weevil (Curculio Glandium) takes flight, and earns the photographer, Christian Brockes, first place in the ‘Beetles’ category. (Image credit: Christian Brockes)
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The ‘Extreme Close-Up’ category gives a glimpse into the microscopic world of invertebrates. The category-winning image is of a potter wasp, shot by Riyad Hamzi in Saudi Arabia, and consists of 173 separate images combined using focus stacking. (Image credit: Riyad Hamzi)
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A flower crab spider, shot in Saudi Arabia by Mofeed Abu Shalwa, the Luminar Bug Photographer of the Year 2020. The flower crab spider can alter the color of its body to blend in with its surroundings. (Image credit: Mofeed Abu Shalwa)
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A carder bee, shot by Jamie Spensley, the Luminar Young Bug Photographer of the Year 2020. The focus-stacked shot is composed of 41 separate image. (Image credit: Jamie Spensley)
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This shot of a Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) with its young was taken in the mountains of Taiwan, and was the winner in the ‘Arachnids’ category. Lung-Tsai says “The small Oxyopidaes were climbing out, followed by two days of cannibalism, and the last one to survive is the king. It was quite a spectacle!” (Image credit: xxxx)
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The winning image in the ‘Aquatic Bugs’ category. A diamond squid, shot in Siladen, Indonesia during a blackwater dive. Blackwater dives are at night in the open ocean, usually over deep waters. After sunset, pelagic predators like the diamond squid come close to the surface to hunt. (Image credit: Galice Hoarau)
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The runners up spot in the ‘Beetles’ category went to this menacing shot by Martijn Nugteren of a stag beetle behind an oak leaf. (Image credit: Martijn Nugteren)
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This shot of a larval wunderpus octopus, taken in Lembeh, Indonesia, was runner-up in the ‘Aquatic Bugs’ category. Very aptly, its scientific name is ‘Wunderpus Photogenicus’ (Image credit: Galice Hoarau)
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“Home Sweet Home’ by Lee Frost won the ‘Bug Homes’ category, and shows a mining bee and a Willoughby's leaf-cutter bee emerging from a bee hotel. (Image credit: Lee Frost)
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Male jumping spiders (in this case a Phidippus insignarius) perform a courtship dance in which they almost form a heart shape with their arms. This one was shot in Colorado, and was 3rd placed in the ‘Arachnids’ category. (Image credit: Raed Ammari)
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The winning image in the ‘Flies, Bees, Wasps and Dragonflies’ category shows three mayfly on crested dogstail, and was shot on the River Kennet near Kintbury, in the UK. (Image credit: Peter Orr)
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The judging panel’s winning image in the ‘Butterflies and Moths’ category was this shot of the beautiful Old World Swallowtail butterfly, newly hatched from the chrysalis and waiting for its wings to dry before its first flight. (Image credit: Sara Jazbar)
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This shot of a black-veined white butterfly (Aporia crataegi) is shot in infrared. The photographer, Sara Jazbar, says that she loves the mythical, fairytale atmosphere that infrared brings to her images. It was 3rd placed in the ‘Butterflies and Moths’ category. (Image credit: Sara Jazbar)
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‘Tug of War’. This dramatic shot by Reynante Martinez won the ‘All the other bugs’ category, and shows two weaver ants pulling apart a smaller species. (Image credit: Reynante Martinez)
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The astonishing detail in this Silver Y moth was captured by Stephen James, and was shortlisted in the ‘Extreme Close-Up’ category. (Image credit: Stephen James)
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The winning image in the ‘Snails and Slugs’ category is this classic portrait of a garden snail, plucked from his garden rockery, by David Lain from the UK. (Image credit: David Lain)
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‘Red palm weevil’ by Mofeed Abu Shalwa, who has been crowned Luminar Bug Photographer of the Year 2020. (Image credit: Mofeed Abu Shalwa)
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The judging panel contained well-known figures including Buglife President, Germaine Greer; TV presenter and naturalist Nick Baker; ground-breaking invertebrates photographer Levon Biss, and macro specialist Ross Hoddinott.

Launched this year, the annual awards celebrate invertebrate photography, and raising awareness of the plight of so many invertebrates species, which have seen large declines in their populations. The awards have also raised valuable funds for the conservation efforts of Buglife. 

To see all the winning images, runners up and shortlisted images, visit the Luminar Bug Photography Awards website (opens in new tab).

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Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 


His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.


He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.