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$120,000 photo: bird shot wins big bucks in the HIPA Nature competition

Winners from the HIPA Nature 2022 eleventh season
Gannet Storm (Image credit: Henley Spiers / HIPA)

The theme for this year's edition of the world's richest photography competition was Nature, and the winning entries did not disappoint. Each year, the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) offers an extremely substantial grand prize of $120,000 (approximately £98,000 / AU$169,000).

A photo of a gannett seabird swimming in a shower of bubbles, after breaking through the water surface like a live torpedo, won British photographer Henley Spiers, from Exeter, the ultimate prize in this year's eleventh season HIPA.

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The Hamdan International Photography Award (opens in new tab) was founded in 2011, and is generously funded by the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The award is free to enter and aims to encourage and spread the culture of photography across the world.

The Grand Prize-winning image was captured in the Shetland Islands in Scotland, and features a gannet diving in the water at 60 miles per hour. Spiers is a professional underwater photographer, and has shared that he is extremely fond of the location, where gannets would seasonally appear to nest.

Relaxing in the rain - First Prize Winner, Portrait (Image credit: Ali Saifaldeen / HIPA)
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"HIPA exceeded half a million cumulative participation from 205 countries, to become the most widely spread artistic brand in the world," said Ali bin Thalith, HIPA Secretary General. 

"We monitor the artistic scene well, and we value the Asian situation, which has reached an advanced stage of maturity and reaping the fruits of planning."

1 of 10 images in a Black and White portfolio of beautiful animals - First Prize Winner, Portfolio (Image credit: Paul Nicklen / HIPA)
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Inspiring double-victories were had this year as seven countries made two appearances on the winners lists, including the United States, Canada, China, Russia, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh. 

The Nature season this year witnessed a creative sweep of Asian photographers winning three places for Special Awards.

Boats Matrix - First Prize Winner, Colour  (Image credit: Nguyen Vu Cao / HIPA)
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Ali bin Thalith shared his praise of the Awards' aim to dedicate artistic spaces and cultural initiatives in support of our beautiful planet and its future.

"The outputs of this season are high-end artistic messages armed with soft power capable of drawing the world's attention to the seriousness of environmental issues and the need to unite efforts and enhance common awareness of the importance of preserving our great home that we all share."

Flour War - First Prize Winner, Black and White (Image credit: Muhammad Alamsyah Rauf / HIPA)
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Thalith also acknowledged the outstanding Arab creativity from Kuwaiti-based photographer, Majid Sultan Al Zaabi, who won the Photographic Content Creators Award, as well as Qatari photographer, Ali Seif Al-Din, winning first place in the Portrait category, and Egyptian photographer, Ahmed Mahmoud Abdel Azim Abdel Razek, who won third place in the Portrait competition as well.

Jumeirah - First Prize Winner, Nature (Image credit: Ryo Minemizu / HIPA)
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• You may also be interested in checking out the HIPA 2020 winners (opens in new tab), our buying guides to the best underwater drones (opens in new tab) and best cameras for wildlife photography (opens in new tab), as well as the best lenses for portraits (opens in new tab) to upgrade your gear.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.