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Aerial Photographs of the Year at the Siena Drone Photo Awards

Aerial Photographs of the Year at the Siena Drone Photo Awards

Every September, the Drone Photo Awards recognize diverse images by 45 photographers in 9 categories.
Time is the only witness, Mansuè – Treviso – Italy © Stefan Emanuel

If aerial photography is mesmerizing, it is because it allows us to take a daring look at the world around us. Taken on board airplanes, helicopters, or hot-air balloons, these photos offer us another point of view on a reality we know only in a fragmentary way.

The Drone Photo Awards aim to celebrate aerial photography in all its forms. The Siena International Photo Award is the world’s most prestigious aerial photo and video competition. This year, forty-five international photographers were awarded prizes in nine different categories. But the name is misleading: it’s not just drone photography that takes the spotlight. Participants can submit photos taken from parachutes, kites, or any other kind of flying apparatus.

Alien Structure on Earth. The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers, are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) © Tomasz Kowalski

Advances in drone technology, however, have transformed aerial photography, as Jim Picôt, winner of the Drone Photographer of the Year Award, testifies. The Australian photographer and amateur aircraft pilot is passionate about DJI drones, which he has been using for the past five years: “I enjoy drone photography so much that I hardly use a normal camera anymore. My drone has opened up a new world of photography for me and allowed me to photograph every sunrise and sunset!”

Love Heart of Nature. In winter, a shark is inside a salmon school when, chasing the baitfish, the shape became a heart shape. Avoca Beach, NSW (Australia) © Jim Picôt

His drone made it possible for him to capture a school of salmon, which surprisingly took the shape of a heart, infiltrated by a predatory shark. The colors make Jim Picôt’s photo reminiscent of another acclaimed aerial photo by Yann Arthus Bertrand, which represents a heart-shaped clearing in a mangrove swamp. Aerial photography is often able to open our eyes to the balance of natural ecosystems we destroy. It is an effective tool for raising ecological awareness. 

Laundry Field, Rajshahi, Bangladesh © Sujon Adhikary

In 2020, high elevation seems more important than ever. A new category has been introduced, dedicated to life in the times of COVID: the award-winning photos show us deserted cities and gatherings carried out in compliance with safety measures. In Israel, demonstrators challenge Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies, while in Turkey, the faithful attend Friday prayers, in both cases observing social distance. 

Life with Covid-19. Muslims perform Friday prayers while maintaining social distance and getting used to living with Coronavirus. Tel Aviv (Israel) © Levent AteŞ

Aerial photography reveals secrets of nature, but it also allows us to rediscover urban architecture from a new vantage point. Seen from above, our cities become less familiar. Some award winners highlight this strangeness: at 4:30 a.m., the Shanghai World Finance Tower, shrouded in clouds, looks fantastic, while the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur seem to belong to an alien world. 

Sunrise on the Top. At 4:30 in the morning, mysteriously shrouded in clouds, this is what the second tallest building in Shanghai (China) looks like © Rex Zou

But aerial photography is not just about landscapes: it can hone in on individual emotions. The category dedicated to wedding photos is a good example. Staged scenes combine decorative elements with festive garments and natural environments to immortalize wedding celebrations in different cultures. 

2brides, Lautertal, Germany © Dirk Spoerer

To discover the winners of the 9 categories, click here!

Joy Majdalani

Joy Majdalani is a Paris-based Lebanese content editor and creator. She writes on technologies, art, culture, and social issues.

Swirl. An abstract shot of a Pink lake chemical reaction in Western Australia. Pink Lake (Australia) © Boyan Ortse
Angry seagull, Chioggia – Venezia © Alvise Bagagiolo

Drone Photo Awards

The competition accepts submissions every year between May 1 and June 15.

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