15 mesmerising photos taken by drones that let you see the world in a whole new light

Jim Picôt/Drone Photo AwardsThe Drone Photo Awards’ 2020 photo of the year.
  • The annual Drone Photo Awards showcase beautiful aerial photographs in a number of categories including nature, cities, and people.
  • This year’s winning shots include herons’ treetop nests, an aerial shot of the Dubai Marina, and a snap of millions of Hongkongers protesting a controversial extradition bill.
  • The 2020 photo of the year is Jim Picôt’s “Love Heart of Nature,” which captured a shark swimming in a heart-shaped school of salmon.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Every year the Drone Photo Awards highlight the very best aerial photography shot with drones. This year’s winners were announced on September 21 and, as part of the sixth edition of the Siena Awards Festival, 45 of the winning shots will be displayed in Siena, Italy, from October 24 to November 29 at the Accademia dei Fisiocritici.

This year’s competition featured nine categories: abstract, nature, people, sports, series, urban architecture, wedding, animals, and empty cities: life during COVID-19. The competition aims to select photographs that “capture the beauty of the world seen from the skies and allow imagination to tell a story.”

Here are 15 finalists in this year’s competition.


Tomasz Kowalski photographed the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur in “Alien Structure on Earth.”

Tomasz Kowalski/Drone Photo Awards‘Alien Structure on Earth.’

Kowalski’s aerial shot of the Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers, took first place in this year’s urban category.


In “Dubai Marina,” Carmine Chiriacò captured the symmetry and architecture of the city’s Dubai Marina neighbourhood.

Carmine ChiriacòDrone Photo Awards‘Dubai Marina.’

Chiriacò’s photograph won runner-up in this year’s competition in the urban category.


Dmitrii Viliunov’s drone allowed him to get a glimpse of herons nesting for his photo, “Where Herons Live.”

Dmitrii Viliunov/Drone Photo Awards‘Where Herons Live.’

“Many think that herons make nests in reeds or in a swamp,” Viliunov writes. “In fact, they nest in the tops of huge trees and with a drone it is sometimes possible to see them.”

Viliunov’s shot won first place in the wildlife category.


Mark Carwardine’s “Munk’s Mobula Rays Schooling” captured thousands of rays from above.

Mark Carwardine/Drone Photo Awards‘Munk’s Mobula Rays Schooling.’

Carwardine photographed the shoal of Munk’s mobula rays in the Gulf of California, Mexico. The photograph won runner-up in the wildlife category.


In “On the Sea,” Roberto Corinaldesi captured the nail-biting moment dozens of swimmers headed into a wave.

Roberto Corinaldesi/Drone Photo Awards‘On the Sea.’

Corinaldesi’s picture earned him first place in this year’s sport category.


Brad Walls’ “Ball Up” contrasts a tennis player’s abstract movement with the straight lines of a tennis court.

Brad Wallsl/Drone Photo Awards‘Ball Up.’

Walls snapped this picture, which won runner-up in the sport category, in Sydney, Australia.


Alessandra Meniconzi’s “Frozen Land” captured villagers traversing a body of ice in the Eurasian Steppe.

Alessandra Meniconzi/Drone Photo Awards‘Frozen Land.’

Meniconzi’s picture, shot in the Eurasian Steppe – a region extending from Hungary to China – took home first place in this year’s people category.


Tugo Cheng’s “2,000,001” captured the millions of Hongkongers who took to the streets to demonstrate against a controversial extradition bill.

Tugo Cheng/Drone Photo Awards‘2,000,001.’

Cheng’s picture won runner-up in the people category.


A grey whale is seen lurking beneath a boat in Joseph Cheires’ “Whale Plays Pushing Tourists.”

Joseph Cheires/Drone Photo Awards‘Whale Plays Pushing Tourists.’

Cheires waited three years to get this shot of the grey whale in Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California, Mexico. It was worth it: The photo won him first place in this year’s nature category.


Martin Harvey captured a flamboyance of thousands of flamingos in “Flamingos at Lake Logipi.”

Martin Harveyl/Drone Photo Awards‘Flamingos at Lake Logipi.’

Harvey’s shot of the birds at Lake Logipi in Kenya won runner-up in the nature category.


The vibrant colours at this industrial mine resemble the mythical in Paul Hoelen’s “Phoenix Rising.”

Paul Hoelen/Drone Photo Awards‘Phoenix Rising.’

Hoelen’s photograph, snapped at the industrial mining site of Owens Lake in California, won first place in this year’s abstract category.


Azim Khan Ronnie’s “Largest Congregation” shows more than 600,000 people praying.

Azim Khan Ronnie/Drone Photo Awards‘Largest Congregation.’

Azim Khan Ronnie’s shot, taken during Eid-ul-Fitr – a Muslim festival of happiness celebrated globally – in Bangladesh, won runner-up in this year’s abstract category.


Mohamed Azmeel used leftover flowers and leaves from a wedding to make his subject look like a palm tree in “Tropical Bride.”

Mohamed Azmeel/Drone Photo Awards‘Tropical Bride.’

Azmeel’s shot won him first prize in this year’s wedding category.


In Krzysztof Krawczyk’s “Lovers on the Field,” a couple appears to float through a field in a kayak.

Krzysztof Krawczykl/Drone Photo Awards‘Lovers on the Field.’

Krawczyk’s photo of these lovebirds won runner-up in this year’s wedding category.


But the 2020 “photo of the year” was Jim Picôt’s “Love Heart of Nature,” which captured a shark caught in a heart-shaped school of salmon.

Jim Picôt/Drone Photo Awards‘Love Heart of Nature.’

Jim Picôt’s award-winning shot was taken during winter at Avoca Beach in Australia.

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