From powerful photographs that document significant events in this tumultuous year to delicate portraits of tender moments in people’s lives to inspiring vistas and extraordinary encounters with the natural world, these photos are stunning testimonials of the times we live in.
The winners of this year’s International Photography Awards (IPA) were chosen out of more than 13,000 submissions from around the world. With 13 major categories, from news and events to people, nature, and sport, there is a dizzying range of subjects to account for, but each winner is incredibly powerful in its own way. Hossein Farmani, IPA’s founder and president, called this year’s winners “the best images I have seen in the last decades.”
In these unprecedented times, this year’s entries reflect some of the biggest challenges facing our generation — not the least of which is dealing with a virus which, for the first time, is an event that has affected every person on earth in some way. We see photography at its best — whether covering the Covid pandemic, or the world’s uprising against injustice — the images captured are breathtaking.
“New Seas,” by Paulius Makauskas
Timothy Morton thinks of climate change as a “hyperobject” — an incomprehensibly large object stretched in the space-time. Recognizable only in parts, but never all at once. Microplastics are barely noticeable particles, but at the same time omnipresent in the ocean.I imagined them as synthetic plankton of all conceivable colors, invisibly wandering from one place to another.I have spent a great deal of time by the sea, so it was easier for me to see that the white ridges of waves creates boundless white-gray paper in space and time.I only needed to fill it with light to reveal the invisible.
“Elements,” by Katja Ogrin
Exploring the elements of live music performance such as water, fire, smoke and other pyro effects that enhance the visual impact for the viewing audience.
“Looking Out From Within,” by Julia Fullerton-Batten
Looking Out from Within, 2020 Covid-19 came. Life changed. Probably irrevocably. I felt numb. Couldn’t stand around helpless. I decided to document the new daily existence of millions. I advertised my idea on social media and through my local paper in West London. The response was enormous. Imprisoned in their home, they gaze forlornly out of their window onto a different desolate world outside.
“Black Mountain,” by Ari Rex
In January, Canberra had one of the most spectacular lightning storms ever. It passed the city from West to East over the black mountains and continued towards Brindabella mountains.
“Odilo Lawiny — Handmade soccer balls,” by Brian Hodges
Miles from the main roads in rural Uganda, soccer balls bounce unevenly. Playing fields are arid, lush, weedy, sandy — any flattish space will do. Some feet are bare, others shod in fraying sneakers, boots, or rubber sandals. Yet children kick and chase handmade, lopsided balls with skill and abandon, competing for pride and joy — for the sheer pleasure of playing. The balls are spun into being with whatever’s at hand: rag or sock, tire or bark, plastic bag or banana leaves. Made entirely of recuperated materials, they give another life to something that would otherwise just be thrown away.
“The Journey to the Land of Dreams,” by Iwona Podlasinska
The video is a series of moving pictures that tell the story of an imaginary journey to the wintry land of dreams. Children shown in the photos travel by horses, trains or on foot to finally reach the land of imagination. The video was created by Zaman Dizini with photos taken by Iwona Podlasińska.
“Time,” by Titus Poplawski
“Ranger Adamson,” by Tyler Schiffman
Photographed above is Ranger Adamson from the Serva Conservancy. He devoted his life to protecting the wildlife of northern Kenya by diffusing human-wildlife conflict and risking his life-fighting poachers. He is just one of many hoping to protect Africa’s wildlife from extinction.
“Concrete Forest,” by Yuhan Ma
More than 7 million people in Hong Kong live on a land slightly larger than 400 square miles, with more than 17,000 people living per square mile! They stand against the world’s densest skyline and bear the heaviest housing price burden in the world. The inside and outside of Hong Kong housing, and the other side behind the scenery.
“Morning Light,” by Chih-Hsiung Tsai
Morning Light in Rural Jiangxi Province, China.
“Multiverse of Space and Time,” by Cheric Kwong
Do you ever wonder if our space and time is real or is just an illusion? Kolmanskop was a diamond mining town over 100 years. After the diamond ran out, Kolmanskop was completely abandoned, and time stopped. The town remains the same as 100 years ago, but not the nature. As time goes by, sands swallowed the entire town, and makes it a surreal reality on earth. Each space behind the doorway is another new space. Maybe this is a mirrorworld that doesn’t exist. Different space and time after each threshold draws my attention. Facing the surreal reality, we can choose to move forward, stay or leave.
“LED Greenhouses,” by Tom Hegen
Food engineers in the Netherlands are experimenting with a way to feed more people using less land, by growing crops indoors. LED-lit greenhouses provide growing conditions for plants like around the clock and in every kind of weather. The Dutch have created the most advanced area in the world for controlled environment agriculture and have become world leaders in agricultural innovation. However, there are also consequences this growing method brings with it, like light pollution or growing crops out of season and ship them around the world, so people can eat strawberries year-round.
“The Last Tong Lau,” by Stefan Irvine
This series focuses on Hong Kong’s tong lau (唐樓), or Chinese “shophouse” buildings — a type of mixed-use architecture once popular throughout southern China. With much of Hong Kong’s urban heritage under constant threat of redevelopment, these photographs serve as vital historical documents for the communities they depict. The facade of the buildings are captured at precise intervals and distances. These photos from multiple perspectives are then digitally merged by Jörg Dietrich into one expansive, seamless image, creating a singular visualisation of the architecture in an entire city block.
“Inverted,” by Andrew Prokos
Inverted is an experimental series inspired by the fascinating modernist, futuristic and contemporary architecture of the Middle East. Through the use of negative imagery, the series portrays an architectural wonderland of bold color fields, abstraction, and close-up views which give us just a glimpse of the inhabitants’ lives. Inverting the scene divorces the viewer from reality, placing them in an alternate space free from the confines of their own perception. These large-scale photographs are displayed at print sizes in the 60–80 inch range.
“In the Corridors of Medical Distress,” by Jorge Iván Macías Mejía
A journey inside a hospital that takes care of patients with Covid-19.
“Plastic Crisis: Men on the Front Lines,” by Muntaka Chasant
The urban poor in Accra risk injury and drowning to swim in the Korle Lagoon to recover recyclable plastics that flow into the heavily polluted water from the city’s waterways during rainfall events. They sell the plastic for pennies, which they depend on for sustenance. Scavengers and waste pickers are major stakeholders in the informal plastic recovery industry worldwide. Yet their role is not recognized and appreciated. They make significant economic and environmental contributions by helping to reduce waste, cost of cleanups, and supply secondary materials to industries.
“Pro Democracy Demonstrations, Hong Kong: The Revolution of Our Time,” by Kiran Ridley
On June 9th 2019, an estimated one million people took to the streets of Hong Kong to march in protest to the government’s proposed Extradition Bill, allowing citizens to be extradited to mainland China for prosecution. Since that day, Hong Kong has been plunged into a political crisis, with waves of demonstrations and violent clashes between Police and protestors with an alarming rise in the number of police brutality and misconduct allegations, as protests morphed into a wider call for democratic rights and freedom in the semi-autonomous city.
“Police Kneel Down,” by Eva Marie Uzcategui
Police officers kneel during a rally in response to the death of George Floyd in Coral Gables, Florida on May 30, 2020.
“Never Give Up,” by Qiang Chen
Nothing can stop the love of life and the pursuit of dreams.
“The Mud People Festival in Nueva Ecija,” by Jophel Botero Ybiosa
The photo depicts the Mud People Festival in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, Philippines. Devotees wear dried banana leaves and cover themselves with mud then offer a prayer and also pay homage to Saint John the Baptist. According to a local legend, the Japanese soldiers were about to execute the villagers of Aliaga during World War II. But in the midst of downpour, Japanese soldiers suddenly changed their minds. Afterwards, the villagers celebrated by rolling around the muddy ground. There’s a belief that being saved from the execution is a miracle of Saint John the Baptist.
“Farewell Moment,” by Yo-Wei Chen
“City of Musical Scores,” by Ki Piu Tse
In this project, I would like to compose musical scores with images while attempting to capture the time and movement of soccer playground audiences. The stand is a five-line staff and the people are musical notes. Whatever the people in the stand is resting, chatting, eating, or watching soccer game, they are inadvertently composed a city musical.
“Distance of Time,” by Xue Yutao
I stood up and down Kangrinboqe and looked at Gurla Mandhata at an altitude of 7694 meters, 130 kilometers away from me. The light of the stars in the sky was hundrerds,millions, billions of years ago.The mountain in front of me is a masterpiece of tens of millions of years of Creator. That ray of red is a distance of 30 seconds for humans.
“Women Harvesting Chamomile,” by Kaveh Seyedahmadian
Baluch women harvesting chamomile in an organic farm in Baluchabad Village, north of Iran. Some of these ethnic Baluch families migrated from their homeland, in dry lands of south of Iran, to the north east of Iran nearly 90 years ago.
“Best Friends,” by Claudio Piccoli
Two of my dogs (Border Collies) that teach me every day how to be happy with easy things like running. To take this photo I made them to run together starting in a different point so that the faster one could reach the slower one exactly on the log. It’s one shot that required a lot of preparation to understand their behaviour running side by side. It’s amazing to see how they compete each other and at the same time play like best friends ever.
“Alex + Zoe,” by Emily Fisher
This is my son, Alex, an identical twin, and Zoe, our pet duck. I had envisioned this image in my head and had to try to shoot it. I dressed him in dark clothing and hung up a black sheet behind him. I wasn’t expecting him to disappear into the blackness so well, but I love the way it turned out. I think it almost looks like an old master painting. I was so please with how relaxed both my 4 year old and our duck were for the shoot.
“Tateyama Milky Way,” by Masahiro Hiroike
Tateyama is one of the snowiest places in Japan. This picture was taken at the beginning of May, but it was all snow covered. I stayed in the tent and waited for the night. Fortunately it was very fine and the Milky Way looked very beautiful. This is a panoramic photo using 12 photos. Six pictures of the Milky Way use an equatorial mount.
“Extreme Panoramic Landscapes,” by Alessandro Cantarelli
Since 2008 I’m traveling around the world, looking for inspiration, for new views. It’s very hard to create something unique in the infinite world of photography, there are many talents that emerge every day; that’s why I chose to customize my landscape vision with Extreme Panoramic Photography, I capture the world all around me, with fields of view like 180, 270 and 360 degrees.
“JAZZ,” by Takashi
Clouds were flowing above Mt. Fuji. The long-exposure shooting and the result of finishing with Blue Ink color gave me an image as if I were in different world. When I saw the finished image, I heard JAZZ.
“Blue Insularis 7,” by Chin Leong Teo
The Blue Insularis is an endangered, venomous pit viper subspecies indigenous in Indonesia. This is a shot taken of two intertwined Blue Insularis, with one of them making a meal out of a frog.
“Morning Glow,” by Shumon Saito
At Alpe di siusi in the Dolomites. On a summer day, the light of the morning sun was slowly and gently beginning to illuminate the meadow, which was shrouded in a thin mist.
“Over Stepping Bounds,” by Donald Van Horn
With hummingbirds being a passion of mine, a few years ago I set forth on a project to photograph them doing their natural habits, with a black background to show the beautiful colors and acrobatics they possess. It took two seasons of work, and Tens of thousands of photos to get the results I wanted, with no post processing. What the camera sees and the eye doesn’t is surprising. Here a male Broadtail grabs the beak of a female in flight to show dominance.
“Last Best Place,” by Scott Blair
It’s known as Big Sky County; an eerily-beautiful Montana spring storm looms over a sea of wildflowers, contrasting shades of red and turquoise.
“First Snowfall,” by Timo Heinz
A change over of the seasons, capturing the first snowfall at Moraine Lake.
“Sunset Wonders,” by Bence Mate
Throughout my photographic career, I have always sought opportunities to incorporate the sun into my wildlife images. It is a challenge to find the ideal position where subject, landscape and sun align in a perfect composition.
“An Unexpected Journey,” by Leonardo Munoz
I took a flight to Langkawi with the purpose of photographing the highest suspension bridge on the planet. Once I arrived, the days were filled with fog and rain, obstructing the entire view from above. Not to be disheartened, I decided to end the day by taking a trip to a lighthouse that was recommended to me by one of the locals atop the bridge. He told me it was often left alone by tourists, but that it was truly a sight to behold. I packed my gear, and was on my way. This wasn’t the photograph I was expecting to take when i booked the trip, this was so much more.
“Divine Light,” by Kousuke Kitajima
Taken in Hokkaido, Japan. The divine light was shining on the trees in the snowy field.
“Dancing Fog,” by Simone Cmoon
Dancing fog around the trees and mountains short time before sunset.
“Lone Tree, Not Lonely,” by Hsiaohsin Chen
Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka is a very famous viewpoint in New Zealand. Actually, Lone tree is not lonely at all. Many birds perched on it always. I fade out the background and hope to show its sand alone. Using black & white mode to highlight birds to stress Lone tree has many companions. It is not lonely.
“Eye of the Giant,” by Karim Iliya
Eye contact with a humpback whale can be a powerful experience. They are intelligent, curious, social animals with unique personalities and moods. They gather across the world for a few months to socialize, breed, and raise their new born calves. This is the eye of a humpback whale calf that came over to me while I was freediving. I have seen grown women and men brought to tears after coming face to face with whales. In moments like this I cannot bring myself to put my camera in front of my face and look through the viewfinder.
“Golden Medusa,” by Alex Kydd
The Papuan jellyfish (Mastigias papua), nicknamed the Golden Medusa, photographed at night in a jellyfish lake in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia. I visited the location in the late afternoon and due to a saltwater crocodile sighting in the area only days before, we weren’t able to swim in the water. The subject was stunning and I knew I wanted to try photographin the jellies in darkness. I organise another trip that evening to return to jellyfish lake. No swimming allowed, I was able to get this shot by hanging my body over the side of the boat as spotters looked out for me.
“Unbreakable Bond,” by Pedro Jarque Krebs
A female chimpanzee with her young.
“Tender Eyes,” by Tamara Blazquez Haik
A gorgeous griffon vulture is seen soaring the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain. How can anyone say vultures bring bad omens when looking at such tenderness in this griffon vulture’s eyes? Vultures are important members of the environment, as they take care of recycling dead matter. Vultures are noble and majestic animals — kings of the skies. When looking at them flying, we should feel humbled and admire them.
“All for One and One for All,” by Juliana Könnecke
One of these very troubled shootings, with a kind of a big mess around. The parents prayed for just one pic and then there was this 1/160 of a second, after hours of organizing, running around and still motivating and enjoying… The parents were crying for joy after all.
“A Grandmother’s Love,” by Nicole Capps
An older women known as Baki takes her grandson’s hand as they go on a walk to remember. She explains the finer things of life and how family is so important. Her secret to a long and fulfilled happy life is simply “Forgive easily and never stop praying.”
“A Star Is Born,” by Ekaterina Efremova
In the photo, Grandmother is a doctor, and the husband watches as his child is born.
“Quiet Light,” by Nicholas Dombrovskis
Blue buildings, blue people, white light.
“Love,” by Vera Davidova
This picture is a part of several images from a wedding. This lovely couple share love to each other and motocross.
“My Loves,” by Eric Lee
This is the moment that the owner of the horse showed me a trick that her horse could do. At the same time, she told me that her husband was scared of a horse in general. I love to capture two different aspects of the same thing.
“Enchantment,” by Mark Gray
What an incredible experience! Descending into this Ice Cave below Vantnajokull Glacier in Iceland was like entering a fairy tale. As the sun set for the day it lit up the ice walls, bringing the cave to life! Since capturing this photo the cave has now completely melted. How incredibly blessed I was to visit and capture it!
“Flying Over the Sea,” by Claudio Piccoli
I love to represent the dog as a super hero in my action shots. This dog and its owner were practising disc dog in the water. It’s very difficult to do such amazing performances in these conditions, since the water brakes every movement. It was sunrise and I love the colours. The position of the girl is really focused on her dog and the launch of the disc was perfect. It’s a shot you can repeat more than one or two times since after that the dog needs to rest. The dog remains the main subject and his position in the air is perfect and extended with the maximum tension of muscles.
“Rabbit With Eyes Covered,” by Tianhang Zhang
When I took photos for this rabbit, I found that she was very nervous, so I prepared a semi closed box for her to rest in. After a while, when she relaxed, she began to wash her face with both hands. This interesting photo was taken during that time.
“Swirl Twirl,” by Chris Van Riel
Discdog Twirl performs one of her amazing moves called the ‘Flip’ to catch the frisbee!
“The Tide Begins II,” by Jan Smid
My favorite composition that can not get boring in any weather. We were lucky with interesting conditions at our February photoexpedition. And not only at this location. Panorama compiled from total of 39 frames (3-level exposure bracketing of 13 frames in three rows).
“Man Vs. Nature,” by Aaron Lynton
Francisco Porcella finds himself in the mouth of Jaws, ready to be gobbled up. These big wave surfers are a different breed.
“A Melody of Hope,” by Urim Hong
The UN left and the police stations crumbled into ruin. The gangs declared war and the people..they die in the midst of their relentless shoot-outs. The sound of gunfire had become a cruel melody in their ears. Last three years, a small voice in my heart grew louder and wilder: ‘Can we talk about hope here?’ That is when I heard the gentle whisper, a quiet but sweet melody. It was a melody that resonated through the impenetrable darkness — sound of children calling out for another day, that there will be a better tomorrow. For me, it was indeed a melody of hope.
“LeBron Walking On Air,” by Andrew Bernstein
Remote camera photo of LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers in game vs. Houston Rockets. February 6, 2020. STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA.
“Moonrakers,” by Frederik van den Berg
A group of Alpinists traverse the Plaine Morte Glacier near Crans Montana in Switzerland.
“Game 7 OT Winner,” by Brandon Magnus
An overhead view as Barclay Goodrow #23 of the San Jose Sharks scores the game-winning goal in overtime against Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 23, 2019 in San Jose, California. The San Jose Sharks rallied in the third period with a four-goal power play to win the game 5–4.
“The Man Who Sold the World,” by Adam Gearing
The Man Who Sold the Word is a short, punchy and forearm burning overhanging sport climb with hair-raising exposure below. As the day rounded to a close, smoke from nearby back-burning drifts past in the background, catching the fading light.
For more on this year’s winners, visit the International Photography Awards website.