The 2021 International Landscape Photographer of the Year (ILPOTY) winners have been announced and the top prize has been awarded to Turkish photographer Aytek Çetin. Now in its eighth year, the competition received more than 4,500 entries from all over the world, all hoping to take home a share of the $18,000 prize pool.
Aytek Çetin won first place and took home a $10,000 cash prize for a series of stunning images taken at Cappadocia. This central region of Turkey is known for its towering honeycomb hills, cavernous natural architecture and cone-shaped rock formations. Çetin’s images look other-worldly and his careful use of composition and natural light really accentuates the area's magic.
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“The 60-million-year-old story of fairy chimneys and the fact they have been home to different civilizations for tens of thousands of years makes Cappadocia extremely mysterious for me. If you are lucky, you can visit there during hazy, atmospheric conditions with a soft light pushing through at sunrise or sunset” says Çetin.
These were exactly the conditions in which Aytek shot his cleverly-framed study of the three fairy chimneys at sunrise on a winter morning, which he titled Breaking The Time (above). “The reason I chose this location is because I love the excitement inside me when the sun first hits the fairy chimneys, and how it makes me feel like I’m living in the Bronze Age.”
The three other images in his winning portfolio can be seen below:
Aytek Çetin was born in the Turkish capital, Ankara, and still lives there today. He worked in luxury goods sales before discovering his passion for photography. “I used to go to the sea for my holidays,” he explains. “But after repeating the same kind of trips for years, it was starting to lose its meaning for me. Then I decided to do something different, to dive deeply into nature. I started to explore remote, mountainous regions, and experiencing the energy of the mightiest entities of nature left me deeply impressed and awakened a love for nature within. An interest in photography followed as a result and that has now turned into a passion!”
He bought his first camera – a compact – in 2012 and then, as his interest in landscape photography blossomed, upgraded to a full-frame DSLR system in 2015. His images have made the competition’s ‘Top 101’ finalists in 2019 and 2020, before achieving the grand prize in 2021.
The winner of the single image category is self-described amateur photographer Tanmay Sapkal from the US whose impressive photo captures the beauty of both earth and space. Taken in Marin country, just north of San Francisco Sapkal’s image required careful planning, impeccable timing and a fair amount of patience.
“It wasn’t possible to line up the comet exactly above the foreground I wanted, so I decided to take two separate exposures. It took a couple of visits to get just the right amount of fog on the hills to create the dreamy setting and then I waited patiently for some cars to drive by and create a blanket of light under the fog.”
Each year the ILPOTY comes up with special awards to keep the competition interesting. This year they included the monochrome award, the amazing aerial award, the snow and ice award, the night sky award and the hand of man award.
The chairman of Judges, Peter Eastway said, “Our philosophy is that all approaches to landscape photography are valid. It is not up to us to say whether an image is a landscape or not. As a result, on the pages of the awards book, you will see exponents of many different styles presenting their rare and carefully considered compositions. Some of the landscapes are straight out of the camera, others are from the photographer's imagination.”
All 11 winners from the folio, single image and special awards categories will receive a physical copy of the annual awards book printed by Momento Pro. Single image and folio photographers who came 1st, 2nd and 3rd will also receive a cash prize while the special award winners will receive a one-meter print of their photo from high-end printers, Created For Life.
If you'd like to enter next year's competition or find out more information about this year's winners head to the ILPOTY website where you can also order a physical copy of the awards book.