The winners of the inaugural Drone Awards elevate the art of aerial photography

Mada’in Saleh: Winner in the Nature category
Mada’in Saleh: Winner in the Nature category (Credit: Gabriel Scanu).

The Drone Awards is a new photography competition dedicated to the emerging art of aerial photography. This year’s inaugural competition has just revealed its winning snaps, a spectacular assortment of photographs ranging from gorgeously abstract images to profoundly unique portraits of urban life.

The competition was started by a non-profit association called Art Photo Travel, based in Italy, that’s dedicated to promoting photography and culture. The association is behind one of the stronger photo contests in the world today, the Siena International Photo Awards.

Santa: Commended in the Abstract category

Inspired by the breadth of work emerging in the field of aerial photography the new Drone Awards set out to feature this new form. Describing the mission behind this new competition the organizer’s write:

“Becoming more sophisticated, cheaper and more accessible, drones, along with satellites, have moved from warfare technology towards a constant state of Orwellian nervousness. In this growing debate, regarding surveillance and privacy issues in the midst of ever-advancing technology, the role of the artists seems seminal. Contemporary aerial artists continue to use photography to create images of extraordinary reach and power, deepening our understanding of the world beyond its surface appearance and the way we relate to it.”

There are six categories celebrated in the competition spanning the usual suspects for drone photography awards: Nature, Sport, Urban, Wildlife and People. But perhaps the most interesting section of the bunch is the Abstract category. This section really nails into the artistic side of drone photography with some truly breathtaking and surreal images of geometric patterns.

Entrance to Hell: Runner Up in the Nature category

The Grand Prize winning photograph this year went to a familiar snap from Florian Ledoux called Above The Polar Bear. Ledoux’s beautiful photograph, capturing a polar bear leaping across a gap in the sea ice, has already won a heap of awards over the past twelve months and rightly so. It’s an immediately iconic and memorable image.

Other standout shots include Gabriel Scanu’s haunting shot of Mada’in Saleh, an archaeological site in Saudi Arabia, a truly psychedelic image of an iceberg, and Entrance to Hell, from a Chinese photographer taken off the coast of Hawaii.

Take a look through the gallery for a glimpse at all the captivating winners in this impressive new photo contest.

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