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15 Best Entries In #BestPhotoOf2020 Photography Contest

Just like last year, even this year, Agora, the free-to-use mobile application has conducted a competition. To take part in this amazing competition, photographers from 135 countries have participated. And why shouldn’t they participate in this competition? After all, the prize money is $25,000, and it’s huge. 

Over the past 8 months, nearly 35k submissions have been done. Currently, the judges have finalized 50 pictures. And these pictures will be competing for the grand prize. The results of this competition will be announced on 28th December. 

Till then, you can have a look at some of the finalized pictures. And don’t forget to tell us which photo do you think deserves to win. 

#1 A Polar Bear Swimming In The High Arctic

Location: Baffin Island, Canada

“As climate change touches the globe over, bears will be stranded on land for longer periods of time, and swimming longer distances. The shoot aimed to shine a light on the front lines and last line of climate change. Droning animals can be controversial, I had spent a few days tracking this bear, who displayed curious and brazen behaviors towards snowmobiles and people. When I saw him jump into the ocean from the ice through my telephoto, I popped my drone up and hoped he’d be curious enough to swim by to take a look. Once he swam by I did not pursue further. If I win, I would donate 20% of this money directly to Polar Bears International, and purchase a 600mm prime to create more impactful images of our wild world.”

@jdubcaptures, Canada

#2 I Saw A Storm Coming Up The Coast

Location: Fraser Island (K’Gari), Australia

“Taken during storm season, a storm cell moves up the coast dropping some CG (cloud to ground) lightning. I had never really shot lightning before and saw this storm cell approaching so thought I’d use a long exposure to try and capture a bolt or two. When out in nature it is always my intention to capture the epic and effortless beauty of our natural world. Cloud to ground lightning is the least common but best understood of all types of lightning. It predominantly starts in the cloud and ends on the earth, but can also occur in the reverse direction from the ground to the cloud. If I win, I will celebrate and find some land to buy and to live simply from.”

@epicworld_photography, Australia

#3 Black Is Beautiful

Location: Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State, Nigeria

“The increased activity in racism and racial profiling has pushed the narrative that being black is more of a curse than a blessing. This picture is a reminder that being black is beautiful. The picture was taken with a budget setup with the absence of any speed light equipment or studio setup. If I win, I would put the money towards furthering my education, in doing a master’s degree.”

@princeude_, Nigeria

#4 Afghan Girl In 2020

Location: Nyiregyhaza, Hungary

“I took this shot of my wife as part of a project in my photography school, where I got a task to reproduce a well-known photo or artwork. My first thought was Steve McCurry’s well known Afghan girl, but I wanted to change it up and add a contemporary twist. I wanted to add our sad actual reality and make a symbol of the year 2020. So I decided to give the ‘Afghan girl’ a mask. Perhaps this is one of the best expressions of this sad situation that has weighed on humanity this year. It was a difficult task to recreate but my wife’s beautiful expressive eyes were given made it easier. If my photo wins the top prize, I would take my wife on an exotic journey because she deserves it. It goes without saying that we’d go somewhere where I could take a lot of brilliant photos.”

@dutkaakosfoto, Hungary

#5 Farmers

Location: Estarreja, Aveiro, Portugal

“This Portuguese shepherd carefully transports the newborn goatling into the corral. This moment of affection between the shepherd and the animal shows respect and the careful way how animals are treated. The animal seeks protection and the shepherd takes care of it with love. I am a veterinarian and with my photography, I try to record moments of affection and to show the respect that farmers have for their animals. It is a way of honoring my farmers, who work from sunrise to sunset and whose work is unfortunately underpaid. I have been witnessing the respect and the affectionate way these small farmers treat their animals for many years. If I win, I would use the money to renovate an old house of mine, converting it into a museum for my daughter’s paintings and for my photographic work. My daughter died in January this year. This would help me to honor her memory and honor the farmers with whom I work.”

@jorgebacelar, Portugal

#6 My Friend Jane, The Real Soldier

Location: Zaporizhia, Ukraine

“This photo was taken in my apartment, right before my model and dear friend Alyona’s surgery. Alyona is 27 years old and is fighting aggressive cancer. It was the hardest photoshoot in both of our lives. During this shoot, I tried to pull myself together and support my friend. It is very difficult for a girl to open and show the whole world her vulnerability. But during processing, I cried a lot. This photo moved me. The beauty of a young girl and the horror of the disease. Alyona has 5 brothers and her family could not support her financially with this operation, so these photos helped to partially raise funds. If I get to win the top prize, I will support cancer fighters and first of all my friend and model. I believe she will make it!”

@elena.zp, Ukraine

#7 Taking A Camel Ride Through The Desert At Sunset

Location: Dubai Desert, UAE

“I was in Dubai on my own and booked a desert safari as I had wanted to experience it for myself and take some photographs if conditions were suitable. As luck would have it, I was the only one booked for the late time slot, so when I got on my camel, I just knew that an aerial shot would look interesting given both the lighting conditions so close to sunset and the riderless camels. If you look closely, I’m in the second camel from the front, simultaneously trying to get the shot and stay upright on the camel! I hope this photo conveys the sense of wonder and adventure I felt at the time. This was my first time on a camel! So trying to take a photo with my drone while also making sure I didn’t fall off was quite the experience. If I win, I would (after celebrating) use some of the money to get better photography gear and fund a trip to Mongolia – a place I have always wanted to visit. I would also buy a few surprise gifts for friends and family that have remained unwavering in their support. Finally, as I am also currently at the University of Oxford, I would use whatever was left to help with my living costs here!”

@pixelpann (UK)

#8 Mikurajima

Location: Mikurajima Island, Japan

“Mikurajima Island is famous for the habitat of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Currently, more than 160 dolphins live there, and last year 20 babies were born. The dolphins of Mikura Island are given names from the characteristics of each body. They are completely wild dolphins, but they are called by their name and loved by many people. They make various shapes and group formations; however, at the moment of this photo, they swam in a line side by side. I have wanted to swim with them for some time and was so happy to feel their welcome. I heard that dolphins rest only on one side of the brain when they sleep, and at that time, they line up side by side for safety confirmation. My dream is to photograph the Antarctic sea, so I would like to win the prize money to travel and shoot there.”

@reiko.t, Japan

#9 Family Moment

Location: Etosha Pan, Namibia

“This moment of a male lion playing with his cub was definitely the most exciting moment during several safaris I have done between 2011 and 2014. I love observing animals and their interactions and my goal through animal photography isn’t just capturing these beautiful creatures, but also framing a moment to show how much animals are similar to humans in their behavior. I wish this image would help to raise awareness on the topic of wilderness conservation: we as humans cannot thrive if we don’t protect biodiversity. Normally, during safaris, you end up being surrounded by several tourists, especially when you look for big creatures. What I found surprising about this moment was the random decision of going, right after sunrise, to a more quiet part of the park. Who would have expected to be surrounded by a pride of around 40 lions (male, female, and cubs)? Seeing them playing and, right after, walking around our car, made me relive my childhood memories of watching “The Lion King”. It was exciting, but also a bit scary. The current pandemic has affected the lives of many; I included seeing has it resulted in me recently losing my job. Even though I am lucky enough to be eligible for government help, this money is not enough to finance the start of my own photography business. For this reason, I would use part of the prize for that and another part I will use as a donation for causes that support wildlife and biodiversity conservation.”

@freeilli, Italy

#10 Sacred Soul

Location: Pakistan

“On a road trip, I saw this elderly man in a shop. Although he was a stranger to me, I thought he would be an interesting subject for some portrait shots so I asked him if I could take his photo. During the shoot, he just stared at me, not bothered at all by my shooting. His attire was so traditional, a pure village guy. The shop was empty and dark, but I believe that photographers can transform something ordinary, extraordinary so I placed my subject at the door of the shop to get a dark background. This way, I could make the most of both the natural light that was bouncing in from the roadside and the dark background behind him, enhanced with my flashgun to give this shot a dramatic portrait feel. If I win, I will upgrade my photography equipment and plan a trip to capture the beauty of Europe.”

@asimijaz (Pakistan)

#11 Elders Take Great Care Of Young Kids

Location: Omo Valley, Ethiopia

“I visited the Suri village to photograph the tribe’s portraits and culture. For the last 20 years, the traditions of the Suri tribe have been in disarray. The arrival of guns has created an increasingly volatile, unregulated situation in a very unstable region. In the past, the role of the chief was to uphold values of restraint and non-violence and to provide a reconciliation between clashing groups and clans. Disputes were resolved by strict rules, debates, and rituals – for instance, sacrificing cows, verbal pledges, or firing of guns at rocks to signify that bullets must hit the earth and not people. Today, those rituals are being rejected in favor of immediate and bloody retribution. The Suri exist at the margins of the Ethiopian state. The government in Addis Ababa regards them as trouble makers. They feel neglected and discriminated against. They say that the government has unfairly targeted them for disarmament, despite the fact that their neighbors continue to attack them. The state has also tried to ban ‘harmful customs’, such as cattle-raiding and lip plates. To maintain the Suri culture and tradition, elders take great care of young kids who are the hope and inheritors of the Suri culture. I have created this photo to convey the message that Suri kids are the future of Suri culture and tradition which should be protected by elders in order to become the heirs of the Suri tribes. I asked and explained my planned shot to local guides and villagers actively participated to create this shot. I’m satisfied with their pose in this shot even though I didn’t have good communication with them as I don’t understand their language. If I were to become the Hero, I would like to go back to Ethiopia to donate necessities for the Suri tribe.”

@zayyarlin, Myanmar

#12 When The Muddy River Meets The Ocean

Location: Dili, Timor-Leste

“The first rains of the year in Timor-Leste make the rivers start flowing again, bringing mud and trash from the mountains to the ocean. This water can be seen separated in two: the brownish muddy river water and the deep blue ocean water, however nowhere near as clearly at sea level than as from the air. The fishes are attracted and get closer to the shore. After taking off the drone and facing the camera downwards, I was stunned by what I was seeing: the thick texture and brownish color of the river contrasting with the soft texture and deep blue color of the ocean was not something that I have ever seen in my life! This project was not planned, at least not in the same way as I imagined it. I borrowed a drone from a friend to continue a project of mine on Timorese fishermen that use the apnea technique to fish. I already had underwater photos as well as photos “on the sea level”, so aerial photos were the last step of the project. I asked my friend for the drone on that day because I knew that there were more fishermen fishing during the first rains of the year, but I had no idea that seen from above the scenery would be so spectacular! If I win, I would fly back to Timor-Leste and finish the projects that I left open-ended, such as the apnea fishermen, who are living heroes that deep dive for over 5 minutes, without any equipment, to fish and survive. There are not many places where people fish this way and some studies even prove that their lungs and body have developed to allow them to stay longer underwater without breathing.”

@joao.galamba, Portugal

#13 Ao Dai

Location: Quảng Ngãi, Vietnam

“In my photo, a Vietnamese girl is seen wearing an Ao Dai, the national dress of Vietnam which is highly valued by Vietnamese women. I’d like to invite everyone to honor and show respect for the unique cultural traditions of each country and the role of women today. Ao Dai portraits are usually only taken with a terrestrial camera, but using a drone for this photo showed a different, broader, and wider view of the scenery of the vast meadows. I would love to use the prize money to contribute to supporting the current climate change relief work in my country.”

@duysinh, Vietnam

#14 Northern Gannets

Location: Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire, UK

“Gannets will rub beaks to strengthen the bond between breeding pairs. After a few days at these cliffs on the Yorkshire coast, I was lucky enough to capture 2 pairs of gannets rubbing beaks simultaneously. If I win, I would donate part to help protect our beautiful British wildlife and use part to help me with my dream of becoming a wildlife filmmaker.”

@joeshellyy, UK

#15 Freediving Mist

Location: Menorca, Spain

“The day I took this photo the sea was very flat and calm. When I went inside the cave, there was this kind of fog or cloud which, mixed with the sun rays, changed the colors, the texture, and the ambiance of the cave. After setting my camera down and starting the continuous shooting I went to the surface through the sun rays and managed to get the right shot. In my photos, I want to transmit those moments in which I free-dive alone, calm in a beautiful and special place with rare and unique conditions. To go to this cave you need to walk close to high cliffs, walk between big rocks, swim a bit, and then dive around 30meters inside the cave, in the dark, wait for the sunrays to set the camera at the right place, and swim to the place, wait then repeat the process to get the right shot. My passion is underwater photography, so this prize would allow me to keep doing what I love full time.”

@victordevalles, Spain

What do you think?

Written by Ekta Singh

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