These are the best photos of the year!

Sony World Photography Awards 2022
2021+II: Utopia Broadcasting by Serena Dzenis, architecture and design shortlist, Sony Photo Awards 2022 (Image credit: © Serena Dzenis, Australia, Shortlist, Professional, Architecture & Design, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

As the year draws to a close, we're taking this opportunity to look back on the incredible selection of images submitted to photography competitions in 2022. From the all-encompassing Sony World Photo Award to the people-focused Portrait of Britain, photography competitions provide a platform for photographers to share their work, receive expert critique and be in with the chance of winning sometimes life-changing prizes. 

It would be an enormous task to work out exactly how many photos in total were submitted to photography competitions in 2022, but it was easily in the hundreds of thousands – if not more. And of course, for all the competitions we write about there is another that is lesser known or just starting out – perhaps destined to one day become a Pulitzer Prize alternative or as prestigious as the International Photography Awards.

Australian photographer Benjamin Goode came first place with his image Reflector at The International Photography Awards 2022 in the Professional, Nature, Trees category.   (Image credit: Benjamin Goode)

Categories covering genres such as portrait, landscape, still life, street, fashion, editorial, wildlife, underwater and so many more make it possible for photographers from all backgrounds to enter. Youth competitions open the floor to budding image makers whose early interest in this craft could be a sign of great things to come. 

We’ve been lucky enough to get a glimpse of not just the winning images from a variety of competitions, but shortlisted and highly commended images too. Sometimes we agree with the judges and sometimes we don’t, and that in itself is the beauty of photography – technique and composition can only get you so far; a great image requires a story and emotion. 

Choosing just a few of our favorite images from the last year of photography competitions is no easy feat but it’s one we are more than willing to take on – plus it means we get to scour 12 months of great images all over again. 

So, without further ado, snuggle up on the sofa and enjoy a selection of our favorite images from photo competitions in 2022 (in no particular order). 

This year The Nature Conservancy Photo Contest had more global entries than ever before, and first place in the Water category was US photographer Kristin Wright. In an Instagram post she said, "I couldn't have made this image without the incredible pilot @volcanopilot Haraldur Diego It’s always an honor to have my photography recognized but this one means a lot. This one is for you Volcano Pilot. Takk fyrir allt". (Image credit: Kristin Wright / Nature Conservancy 2022)

Photographer Dmitry Kokh won the Story category in the Siena Drone Photo Awards, with his images of a polar bear family in an abandoned Weather Station on Wrangel Island. He used a drone equipped with low-noise propellers to photograph the animals without disturbing them  (Image credit: Dmitry Kokh / Drone Photo Awards 2022)

Shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Award 2022 Landscape category, Red Beds by Jonas Daley is a scenic study of red mountain formations found in China that developed during the Jurassic and Tertiary period. (Image credit: © Jonas Daley, China, Shortlist, Professional, Landscape, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

Benjamin Briones Grandi came first place in the International Landscape of the Year 2022 competition for a series of stunning, minimalist images taken at the Chilean coastal dunes.  (Image credit: Benjamin Briones Grandi - The 9th International Landscape Photographer of the Year')

The British Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022 contest was won with a shot called Brecon in Winter, taken by Welsh photographer Will Davies. Shot from the Pen Y Crughill fort, the image shows the stark contrast between the snowcapped, moody peaks in the background and the warm, yellow tones of the fields in the foreground. (Image credit: William Davies)

Dancing with the Giants of the Night by Rafael Fernandez Caballero was the overall winner at the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2022 . It was shot using a Nikon Z7 II paired with a Nikon 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye lens. (Image credit: © Rafael Fernandez Caballero /UPY2022)

Earning the top spot in Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards was American photographer Karine Aigner, for her photo of a ball of cactus bees taken on a ranch in Texas, USA. The photo depicts a group of male bees who are competing to mate with the female at the center of all the fuss. It was shot with a Laowa 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe lens(Image credit: Karine Aigner / Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Luke Stackpoole from Churt, Surrey was awarded first place in The World History category with his stunning shot of Fenghuang Ancient Town, which was built in 1704 and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. (Image credit: Luke Stackpoole / Historic Photographer of the Year 2022.)

Taken from Anna Neubauer's series, The Beauty of Humanity, it came third at the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 in the Professional Portfolio category. Nebauer said, "I’ve realized that as a photographer, I’ve got the transformative power to show how beautiful differences are, and to contribute to a more open, diverse, and inclusive society." (Image credit: © Anna Neubauer, Austria, Finalist, Professional, Portfolio, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

The overall winner of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition was awarded to Indian photographer Debdatta Chakraborty, for the image Kebabiyana taken at a lively street food market in Kashmir.  (Image credit: Debdatta Chakrab)

Polaris Dream shot in Murmansk Oblast, Russia, by Nico Rinaldi was one of 25 images selected for Capture the Atlas' Northern Lights Photographer of the Year 2022 (Image credit: Nico Rinaldi - Northern Lights Photographer of the Year 2022)

The Center of the Heart Nebula was highly commended in the  Stars & Nebulas category in Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2022, taken by Péter Feltóti. (Image credit: © Péter Feltóti - Astronomy Photographer of the Year 14)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

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 specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized 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.