Stunning Winners of the Inaugural Nature Photography Contest

Turtle Swimming in the Maldives

“Maldive 01” by Alain Schroeder. Photographer of the Year.

Though only in its first year, the Nature Photography Contest has already proven to be a space where excellent photography and a love for the planet come together. Celebrated photojournalist Alain Schroeder was named Photographer of the Year and, as part of his prize, will have the opportunity to name a country where he'd like nearly 400 trees planted.

This part of the prize package is a wonderful symbol of the ethos that makes the Nature Photography Contest unique. Judged by four expert photographers, the contest seeks to remind the public of what we have and what we can't stand to lose.

Glenn Ostle is the other photographer singled out in this edition. His striking photo of a sea lion striking a pose while surrounded by a school of fish won Photographer of the Year. For over 25 years, Ostle and his partner Pam Hadfield have traveled the world to partake in their passion for underwater, wildlife, and bird photography. Ostle's winning image was taken during a trip to La Paz, Mexico, where they photographed numerous sea lions in the Los Islotes inlets.

In addition, 10 different category winners were named. Covering everything from macro photography to funny nature imagery, these categories demonstrate all aspects of the natural world. See all the winners, as well as our favorite finalists, below.

Here are the winners of the 2023 Nature Photography Contest.

Sea lion underwater in Los Islotes

“Sea Lion in Los Islotes” by Glenn Ostle. Photography of the Year.
“A Sea Lion stops to pose for the camera before diving through the large schools of fish that surround the islets of Los Islotes close to LaPaz, Mexico.”

Puffin walking on the cliff in Iceland

“Puffin in Iceland” by Alessio Calviani. Winner, Birds.
“Puffin walking on the cliff in Iceland.”

Morning dew, sun and beautiful Philaeus chrysops female walking around her nest.

“The Dreamer – Philaeus chrysops” by Adrian Truchta. Winner, Macrophotography.
“Morning dew, sun and beautiful Philaeus chrysops female walking around her nest. Photo shoot in natural environment. Natural light.”

Panorama of Chapada dos Veadeiros in Brazil with the Milky Way

“Pandora” by Marcio Cabral. Winner, Plant Life.
“This panorama shows the beauty of Chapada dos Veadeiros, a Brazilian national park that hosts a rich biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes.
The white flowers that stand out in the foreground are a rare species of Paepalanthus, a genus of plants endemic to the region.
They were illuminated by a scurion lamp to create a contrast with the dark sky.
In the background, the Milky Way curves over the hills, revealing the colors and shapes of stars and nebulae.
This pano was taken with a specialized camera for astrophotography, which allows capturing more details of the universe.”

Aerial view of glacial river in Iceland

“Burning Flower” by Marek Biegalski. Winner, Natural Landscape.
“One of my favorite things when exploring Iceland is the incredible glacial river perspective seeing from up high. They're called ‘braided river' systems, as they often resemble an intricate jumble of patterns, intertwining in an almost inexplicable fashion. These networks of river channels flow from the glaciers toward the sea, carrying vital nutrients for the ecosystem along the way, in the form of sediment. When the flow of the rivers decreases, the sediment gets deposited on the river bed, leaving behind small temporary islands of dark volcanic sand that cause the channels of the rivers to split. Its remarkable colors are very original and mesmerizing.”

Spotted owlet (Athene brama) emerging from a hollow within a yellow flame tree situated in the university campus

“Monday” by Panisara Sripratoom. Winner, Funny Nature.
“A spotted owlet (Athene brama) emerging from a hollow within a yellow flame tree situated in the university campus. This species of owl is characterized by its small size, primarily nocturnal feeding behavior, and frequent occurrence in urban environments. Without a sharp eye, this spotted owlet goes unnoticed. The meaning of this photograph is in the presence of the large trees around the campus. All branches from these trees were cut and removed as a precautionary measure to prevent potential dangers, such as branch breakage during the rainy season, which could cause risks to passersby. Despite this, these spotted owlets, somehow, have shown their adaptability, finding a habitat within this modified urban environment.”

Homeless woman in Dhaka sleeping in the middle of trash

“Fatigue Sleep” by Muhammad Hossain. Winner, Environmental impact.
“Many homeless people in Bangladesh have lost their homes and properties due to frequent floods, river erosion, and other natural calamities. They were forced to migrate to the Dhaka city in search of a better future. These people have no place to take shelter in big cities. Their day starts in dump hills and streets in roads or boats to nowhere. The concrete-covered street and dirt hills is a flower bed for these refugees who practically do not have any identity. They live by working as street hawkers, boatman, laborers, and doing other odd jobs.”

Baby orangutan at Sibolangit, SOCP Quarantine Centre, North Sumatra, Indonesia

“Saving Orangutans 01” by Alain Schroeder. Winner, Sharing the Planet.
“Sibolangit, SOCP Quarantine Centre, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
The whole SOCP team works together to prepare Brenda, an estimated 3-month-old female orangutan (she has no teeth yet), for surgery. A sedative is administered, the arm is shaved, her temperature is taken, while others hold her head or her hand out of compassion for the baby.
During the three-hour procedure, Dr. Andreas Messikommer, a renowned orthopedic surgeon invited from Switzerland, will place a pin and screws to secure the damaged humerus. Brenda was confiscated from a villager in Blang Pidie on the west coast of Aceh who was keeping her as a pet.”

Scorpion under UV lights on sand dunes

“Stories in the sand” by Soumya Ranjan Bhattacharyya. Winner, Wildlife.
“The scorpion is widely distributed across various terrains in India. In jaisalmer once the evening falls, the scorpions emerge across the dunes to feed for the night. I shot this image of the scorpion in the sand dunes at jaisalmer.. The scorpions when lighted by faint uv light, emit bright blue luminescence from its body. The image was captured using flashlight which lit up the wind created streaks of the dunes. The scorpion was illuminated by a UV flashlight.”

Blackwater photo of a larval moray eel

“Tangle” by 家 住. Winner, Underwater.
“Larval Moray Eel when feeling threatened.”

Panoramic night photograph in which I could capture the arch of the Milky Way passing behind the natural arch called Es Pontàs

“Los arcos y la cueva” by Marc Marco. Winner, Night World.
“Panoramic night photograph in which I could capture the arch of the Milky Way passing behind the natural arch called Es Pontàs. In the photograph, I could also capture a small cave in front of the arch.”

The quality of these finalists shows just how strong the competition was.

Tigresses running in the forest

“Carefree tigresses” by Turgay Uzer. Wildlife, Finalist.

Mouse on the beak of a bird

“Predatore e Preda Occhi Negli Occhi” by Giulio Ilari. Birds, Finalist.

Helicopters releasing water over a fire

“Our Saviors” by Harris Lynch. Environmental Impact, Finalist.

Hiker in an ice cave

“Parallel World” by Radoslav Sviretsov. Sharing the Planet, Finalist.

Water lilies

“Water lilies farewell” by Geir Ludvigsen. Plant Life, Finalist.

The Nature Photography Contest 2023

“Snowy desert in wind” by Ningtai Yu. Natural Landscape Finalist.

Underwater photo of a sea turtle

“Connection” by Charlotte Piho. Underwater, Finalist.

Ox licking its lips

“Hard to Reach” by Florian Kriechbaumer. Funny Nature, Finalist.

Macro photo of a spider on a leaf

“Dark Spider” by Laetitia Larquier. Macrophotography, Finalist.

The Nature Photography Contest: Website 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by The Nature Photography Contest.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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