Macro photography grabs top prize in Close-up Photography of the Year 2020

Macro photography grabs top prize in Close-up Photography of the Year 2020
This incredible image from Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz is just one of the category winners from this year's competition (Image credit: © Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz |

A stunning image of an eel larva taken off the Indonesian island of Lembeh during a blackwater dive has taken top spot in Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020. It was taken by French photographer Galice Hoarau and will be displayed to a global audience in the competition’s Top 100 online gallery.  

The awards, in association with Affinity Photo, is now in its second year and 6,500 entries were submitted to 2020's competition, from 52 countries. Close-up Photographer of the Year was founded by former editor of Outdoor Photography magazine, Tracy Calder.

• Read more: Best macro lenses

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‘Eel Larva’ by Galice Hoarau, the Animals category winner and overall winner of Close-Up Photographer of the Year 2020 (Image credit: © Galice Hoarau |

The competition was created to showcase images that help people to see the world in a different way, and celebrates close-up, macro and micro photography. 

Entries can be submitted in seven categories: Animals, Insects, Plants & Fungi, Intimate Landscape, Manmade World and Micro (for images created using a microscope), plus Young Close-up Photographer of the Year. It is judged by Ross Hoddinott, Sue Bishop, David Maitland, Robert Thompson, Keith Wilson, Matt Doogue and Tracy Calder. 

Read on to see our highlights from Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020; click here to view the Top 100 entries.

Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020: category winner highlights 

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The deserved winner of the Insects category in Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020 was Mike Curry, for ‘Fragile’ (Image credit: © Mike Curry |

Highlights from the other categories included Mike Curry, whose photo of a butterfly surrounded by peeling paint took top spot in the Insects category.

Judge Ross Hoddinott praised the juxtaposition of manmade decay and natural beauty: “The texture and pattern of the blistered paint creates a compelling close-up on its own, but the addition of the butterfly’s natural beauty and delicacy is a masterstroke.” 

The Micro category featured subjects ranging from callus-removing substances to lettuce leaves. But an image of a glass worm taken with a smartphone by Andrei Savitsky was the ultimate winner here.

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‘Mandala with Miniature Tulips’ by Elizabeth Kazda, winner of the Plants & Fungi category in Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020 (Image credit: © Elizabeth Kazda |

Elizabeth Kazda won the Plants & Fungi category by staying close to home and gathering tulips from her garden, then combining multiple exposures to create a striking graphic image. 

Intimate Landscape category winner Mark James Ford trekked across a baking lava field in Hawaii, with heat rising from every crack, to capture his image of lava flow setting. 

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‘Cast in Stone’ by Mark James Ford won the Intimate Landscape category in Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020 (Image credit: © Mark James Ford |

And Kym Cox maintained her grip on the Manmade World category with her second consecutive win. This year’s winning submission was the study of the life cycle of a soap bubble, and it was garlanded in praise by judge Keith Wilson. 

“At first glance, this is a puzzling picture that enthrals with its mystery,’ he notes. “Nothing is obvious here. And yet, like all good stories, it pulls you in, frame by colourful frame, until the reality unfolds and you are left in a state of wonder at the simplicity of it all.” 

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Two wins in a row for Kym Cox, winner of Manmade World in Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020, with ‘Life Cycle of Soap Bubble Iridescence’  (Image credit: © Kym Cox |

Winner of Young Close-up Photographer of the Year

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‘Little Ball’ by Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz, winner of Young Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020 (Image credit: © Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz |

Young Close-up Photographer of the Year is open to entrants aged 17 or under, and the judges noted another year of impressive submissions.

The title was won by Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz from Hungary, for his shot of a springtail in a meadow close to his home.

“One frosty winter’s morning I headed out to take some extreme macro shots at the surface of some frozen water that had pooled in the tracks left by a tractor,” he recalls.

“Crouching down, I spotted some yellow globular springtails which were feeding in the sunrays reflected from the ice. I used LED torches to illuminate one of them, and came away with a picture that celebrates this tiny creature.”

Behind the shot, with the overall winner 

Overall winner Galice Hoarau is a professor in marine molecular ecology, and gets to take home £2,500 and the CUPOTY trophy.

“Peering through the darkness with your torch can be stressful the first time you do it, but it gets fascinating quickly,” he explains.

“After sunset, small pelagic animals (like this larva) rise close to the surface to feed where the sunlight has allowed planktonic algae to grow. At sunrise, they dive into the depths and stay there during the day to escape predators.”

Competition co-founder Tracy Calder revealed that the CUPOTY judges had a hard job of whittling down the entries: “The standard was incredible! Yet again, entrants have shown that close-up photography can help us see the world anew and discover beauty in subjects that are often overlooked.” 

Click here to view the Top 100 entries to Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020. 

Next year's contest

To receive details about next year’s competition, join the CUPOTY community. Just visit the CUPOTY homepage and sign up to the newsletter.

Read more:

Digital Camera Photographer of the Year 2019 overall winners revealed
Best close-up filters
Best extension tubes
Focus stacking: how to get amazing depth of field in macro photography
How to use extension tubes for low-cost macro photography

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Niall Hampton

Niall is the editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and has been shooting on interchangeable lens cameras for over 20 years, and on various point-and-shoot models for years before that. 

Working alongside professional photographers for many years as a jobbing journalist gave Niall the curiosity to also start working on the other side of the lens. These days his favored shooting subjects include wildlife, travel and street photography, and he also enjoys dabbling with studio still life. 

On the site you will see him writing photographer profiles, asking questions for Q&As and interviews, reporting on the latest and most noteworthy photography competitions, and sharing his knowledge on website building.