The 43 Best Drone Photos Of 2020 Have Been Announced

Congrats to Photo of the Year honoree, Jim Picôt of Australia with “Love Heart of Nature!” and to all the talented photographers recognized at the Drone Photo Awards. See all winning images and artist bios at the contest gallery page at our website.

With the advent of drone photography, the photography game has reached new heights (pun intended). Drone photography lends itself in a way no other type of photography can: it can reach spots only a photographer with a helicopter can dream of. And because of that, almost everyone appreciates a good photo from a bird’s-eye view captured by one. Photographer Adam Vradenburg gives some useful tips on how to make drone photos really special. First and foremost, for a good photo, planning and research are essential. Strict laws and regulations in some countries are some of the reasons why. Second, make your flight time count: it’s best to use limited battery times to the fullest, since recharging, especially in nature, is also very limited. Third, one should test the limits of their drone, both in terms of altitude and range. It will give you a better idea of what’s possible with your drone. The fourth tip is “don’t just fly high, fly low,” which basically means that it’s not really necessary to have the highest altitude in order to get the best photo of something. Less is more. And the fifth and final tip is to keep the skies friendly, safe, and respectful. Day by day, the airspace is getting more and more crowded, and therefore it’s best to keep it as fun for as many people as possible!

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#1 Photo Of The Year: Love Heart Of Nature

In winter, a shark is inside a salmon school when, chasing the baitfish, the shape becomes a heart shape.

Image credits: Jim Picôt

#2 Abstract Category Winner: Phoenix Rising

The phoenix rising is a symbol of re-emergence from the ashes of fire. This is symbolized through the beginnings of an actual regeneration process at the industrial mining site of Lake Owens. After a destructive past and the creation of the most toxic dustbowl in America, migratory birds are returning, and life is beginning anew…

Image credits: Paul Hoelen

#3 Nature Category Winner: Gray Whale Plays Pushing Tourists

At the end of the gray whale season, I was told about a gray whale that, for the last 3 years, used to play with the boats, pushing them gently. So we went back the year after and, incredibly, the gray whale appeared and this shot is the result.

Image credits: Joseph Cheires

#4 Wedding Category Winner: Tropical Bride

“I used the flowers and the leaves left over from the decoration of a wedding to make something creative.”

Image credits: Mohamed Azmeel

#5 Abstract Category Highly Commended: Swirl

An abstract shot of a pink lake chemical reaction in Western Australia.

Image credits: Boyan Ortse

#6 Wedding Category Runner-Up: Lovers On The Field

We were looking for some abstraction. We had a boat, a drone and… a lot of time. A strong wind created a beautiful storm in the field. Perfect weather conditions showed me “the eye of the tiger” or “deer eye” through the couple in the kayak. A wonderful combination: beautiful lovers, fantastic nature, strong wind, and this perspective.

Image credits: Krzysztof Krawczyk

#7 “Life Under COVID-19” Winner: Black Flag

Thousands of Israelis maintain social distancing due to Covid-19 restrictions while protesting against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rabin Square on 19 April 2020.

Image credits: Tomer Appelbaum

#8 People Category Highly Commended: Cross The Field

A girl, her mother, and their herd of cows walking across the pasture return home after a day of labor.

Image credits: Khanh Phan

#9 Urban Category Winner: Alien Structure On Earth

Sometimes we need to change the perspective to feel the strength of the structure stronger than we’ve ever thought. The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers, are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur.

Image credits: Tomasz Kowalski

#10 Abstract Category Highly Commended: Spring Zebra

The area of this small village in the Częstochowa region is characterized by large rapeseed crops that create beautiful patterns that extend to the horizon.

Image credits: Lukasz Rajs

#11 People Category Winner: Frozen Land

With temperatures of minus 30°C, winters in the Eurasian steppe can be brutal. But life doesn’t stop, and local people move from one village to another with a sledge, crossing icy rivers and lakes.

Image credits: Alessandra Meniconzi

#12 Sports Category Highly Commended: Waterfall

Surfers try to challenge the waves. It is difficult enough to ride them, not to mention taming them and be able to take off, as well as break them and then caress them.

Image credits: Davide Lopresti

#13 Wildlife Category Winner: Where Herons Live

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

Image credits: Dmitrii Viliunov

#14 Sports Category Runner-Up: Ball Up

The physical motions of the tennis player against the clean abstract lineage of the court created a harmonious effect to the eye.

Image credits: Brad Walls

#15 Nature Category Highly Commended: Lonely Road

Driving along Ring Route 1, in a magical and enchanted landscape, I was ready to embrace whatever may lie ahead.

Image credits: Hong Jen Chiang

#16 Urban Category Highly Commended: Sunrise On The Top

At 4:30 in the morning, mysteriously shrouded in clouds, this is what the second tallest building in Shanghai looks like.

Image credits:

#17 Wedding Category Highly Commended: Framed

This is one of my favorite pictures. It was a perfect match. The great couple, the VW Beetle, the frame. So, it was easy to create a great composition.

Image credits: Tobias Froehner

#18 “Life Under Covid-19” Highly Commended: The Lockdown

The busiest highway in Dubai, shot with no cars present during the lockdown for the disinfection of the municipality. A moment to remember.

Image credits: Bachir Moukarzel

#19 “Life Under Covid-19” Runner-Up: Heart Of Warsaw

The deserted oldest part of Warsaw which, before the pandemic, used to be filled with sun umbrellas of nearby restaurants and crowds of people.

Image credits: Rafal Ganowski

#20 Abstract Category Runner-Up: Largest Congregation

More than 600,000 devotees participated in South Asia’s largest Eid-ul-Fitr congregation. The prayers began at 8:30 am with devotees coming from different parts of the region. Eid-ul-Fitr is a Muslim festival of happiness celebrated all over the world.

Image credits: Azim Khan Ronnie

#21 Nature Category Runner-Up: Flamingos At Lake Logipi

The early morning sun lights a scene of flamingos gathered at the edge of Lake Logipi, next to an interesting fan-like geological formation.

Image credits: Martin Harvey

#22 Sports Category Winner: On The Sea

An aerial view of swimmers, where the sea becomes the place to take refuge, between the blue carpet and the white foam of the waves.

Image credits: Roberto Corinaldesi

#23 Wildlife Category Runner-Up: Munk’s Mobula Rays Schooling

Though from a boat it was hard to appreciate just how enormous this shoal was, the drone revealed a mass of thousands of Munk’s Mobula rays (also called Munk’s pygmy devil rays), all swimming in the same circular direction.

Image credits: Mark Carwardine

#24 Wedding Category Highly Commended: Pebble / Wave

After the ceremony, the couple headed to the beach and decided to go in for a dip. We were lucky to find the perfect waves which only touched the bottom of the dress.

Image credits: Dominic Lemoine

#25 People Category Runner-Up: 2,000,001

Two million Hongkongers took to the streets on 16 June 2019, calling on the government to withdraw the controversial extradition bill. The night before the historic march that nearly one-third of the population took part, protestor Leung Ling Kit ended his life after hanging a banner of the people’s demands in the city centre.

Image credits: Tugo Cheng

#26 “Life Under Covid-19” Highly Commended: Grounded By Covid-19

We have received a clearance to overfly Avalon Airport to document the event of grounded aircraft due to Covid-19.

Image credits: Ingrid Hendriksen

#27 People Category Highly Commended: Carpet Field

Hundreds of handwoven carpets are placed in the fields in order to draw out different colors with the burning effect of the sun’s rays. A pair of workers lies down on the carpets after finishing their work to relieve the tiredness of the day.

Image credits: Mehmet Aslan

#28 People Category Highly Commended: Women Sorting Dry Red Chillies

Women collecting red chilies under the sun for more than 10 hours a day for little pay, employed in one of the many factories that specialize in drying chilies.

Image credits: Md Tanveer Hassan Rohan

#29 Sports Category Highly Commended: Surfing Margaret River

Margaret River, widely known for its award-winning wineries, is also home to some of the world’s best and heaviest surf breaks. Here a surfer stands tall in the green room at North Point.

Image credits: Shane Richardson

#30 Wildlife Category Highly Commended: Homecoming

A buffalo herd is passing a lake before moving to its shelter where the herd will retreat to rest.

Image credits: Mehmet Aslan

#31 Nature Category Highly Commended: The Island

Image credits: Pawel Zygmunt

#32 Sports Category Highly Commended: Matti Buys Wakeskate

Wakeskater Matti Buys doing a 360° shove-it on a custom LED lit wakeskate. The strobes were fired by hand at the critical moment when Matti catches the board over the concrete walk bridge.

Image credits: Tyrone Bradley

#33 Wildlife Category Highly Commended: Flamingo Flock Heart

The lake’s abundance of algae once attracted a vast number of flamingos that famously lined the shore. In 2013, the lake received an alarming increase in the water levels that led to the migration of flamingos to Lake Bogoria in search of food.

Image credits: Thomas Vijayan

#34 Nature Category Highly Commended: Crater Row

A spectacular crater row in Iceland’s vast interior. The intense red on the rims is caused by the scoria being colored by the oxidation of the iron minerals in the lava, in contrast with the surrounding basalt. A white four-wheel-drive vehicle can be seen driving the road beneath the craters.

Image credits: James Rushforth

#35 People Category Highly Commended: Mountains Of Salt

An aerial picture taken on a saltern near a small town on central Vietnam’s coast.

Image credits: Igor Altuna

#36 Urban Category Runner-Up: Dubai Marina

It is extraordinarily interesting to see the architectural designs of the buildings, the streets, and the pier of Dubai Marina that contrast with the ocean water.

Image credits: Carmine Chiriacò

#37 Urban Category Highly Commended: The Buffalo Man

An unusual semi-wild breeding of buffaloes, that after the harvest will be free to feed in the vast plowed fields.

Image credits: Alex Cao

#38 Wedding Category Highly Commended: Wedding Party

Having noted a square-like pattern on the ground of Curzon Hall, I asked the groom, the bride, the bridesmaids, and the groomsmen to lie down in a symmetry like position.


Image credits: Dejan Zagar

#39 Abstract Category Highly Commended: The Fishing Net

The fishing net during anchovy fishing season looks like a floating flower on the sea in this aerial view.

Image credits: Trung Pham Huy

#40 Sports Category Highly Commended: Aerial View Of Continental Pool In NSW

Image credits: Sagi Roitfarb

#41 Wildlife Category Highly Commended: An Afternoon Drink

With the advent of the dry season, as the grass becomes scarce and water sources dry up, Indian rhinos look for newer grazing grounds where they can graze and drink nearby.

Image credits:

#42 Urban Category Highly Commended: A Drop Of Water On A Blade Of Grass

An old windmill situated in the middle of the field on a grass path. This path of greenery contrasts beautifully with the surrounding field and from the sky looks like a drop of water on a blade of grass.

Image credits: Milosz Kuss

#43 “Life Under Covid-19” Highly Commended: Corona

Life with Covid-19. Muslims perform Friday prayers while maintaining social distance and getting used to living with Coronavirus.

Image credits: Levent AteŞ


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