SIENA, Italy – "The Lake" by Iranian photographer Masoud Mirzaei is the overall winner of the 2021 Creative Photo Awards, the international contest of creative and artistic photography of Siena Awards, an international visual arts festival. The photo was shot at Lake Urmia, the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth-largest saltwater lake on Earth, located between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan. It was selected among tens of thousands of images submitted by photographers from 137 countries. The Creative Photo Awards competition includes 17 categories for contemporary photographers, whose innovative approaches to photography challenge the viewer's expectations and offer surprise and delight at every turn. The winning images for each category will be showcased at the exhibition "I Wonder If You Can" during the Siena Awards Festival, from October 23rd to December 5th.
The photographic Festival Siena Awards 2021 will showcase solo and group exhibitions that will collect extraordinary shots arriving from all over the world, and offer workshops, photo tours, seminars, conferences, screenings, and guided tours to discover the Sienese territory.
The main guest of the Festival will be Steve Winter, for the first time in Italy, with "Big Cats," the largest retrospective ever on his career as a National Geographic contributor.
The solo exhibition of Brent Stirton and the exhibitions of the photographic awards “Siena International Photo Awards” and “Drone Photo Awards” will also be part of the Festival.
Robbie (1st Place In Portraiture)
With his image "Robbie," Steve Wise from Perth (Australia) is the winner of the People category. The shot pays homage to the tenacity of Robbie, a young man who was burned all over his body following an accident when he was 4 years old, during which he also lost his fingers.
"Robbie was burned in an accident in his bedroom when he was 4 years old. It resulted in burns to 95% of his body and the loss of his fingers. He has had a tough life but continues to work hard and live as normal an adult life as possible."
We asked the creators of these awards what inspired them to do this: "Through the Siena International Photo Awards, our project has become one of the main photo events in the world in less than six years thanks to the desire to consider the participants of our competition members of a big family, in the name of photography, and to gather them in Siena in the fabulous scenery of Piazza del Campo, in front of the city’s main historical symbol, the 12th Century City Hall and the 'Torre del Mangia' Tower. A moment to gather and share our passion for photography in one of the world’s most photographed locations, a true 'Temple of Photography.'"
A Mother's Love (Highly Commended In Animals/Pets)
"A young swan mother briefly closes her eyes while watching over one of her signets which has recently taken to the water for the first time."
Deep Forest Fairies (Commended In Nature And Landscape)
"'Himebotaru' living in the summer night forest, females cannot fly, only males, firefly which is an indigenous species of Japan, fly around the summer forest while repeating a blink of a short time, reminiscent of Christmas illumination. Sight is fantastic enough to forget the awe of the night forest. It is the shining brightness of life of only 10 days in the summer. And forests are living things, and they are precious things that people cannot threaten."
They also shared the main goal of this contest: "Transmit the meaning of our renowned Christal Statuette which is given to the winners: the Pangea Prize. It is a metaphor of perfection, reflection, refraction, for optical lenses and imagination, the future, and the world. It also takes on the embrace that the Siena Awards organizers wish to create with the world gathered in Siena during the days of the Festival with photographers from all continents: all together to support the love for images, for the transparency of people’s acts, for the harmony of light, for the sweetness of colors, for the good and beautiful. It represents all continents together before the drift, all people together, all nations together, all cultures together: the very essence and purpose that photography transmits and pursues, and that Siena International Photography Awards wants to support, promote, and encourage."
The Lake (Photo Of The Year)
"Lake Urmia, the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth-largest saltwater lake on Earth, is located between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan."
Medusa (Commended In Nature And Landscape)
"This incredible oak tree, reputed to be 500 years old, with branches reaching out reminded me of the serpents on Medusa’s head. The image was shot in Infra-Red to accentuate the contrast."
The Siena International Photo Awards started from a small group of "dreamers and lovers" of photography. They told us more about how they choose the winners: "Pictures are voted on by an international judging panel chosen among those who are the most influential picture editors of the worldwide magazines and those photographers who we think share our thoughts about photography." They usually receive about ten thousand submissions per competition from more than 165 countries worldwide.
Rembrandt Still Life (1st Place In Still Life)
"I like the light Rembrandt draws on his paintings very much. And it seems this light is perfect not only for the portraits Rembrandt draws so magnificent. It is ideal for the still life picture too."
Mahi (Commended In Fashion)
"A red saree, heavy jewelry, and red roses on hair are a staple of a traditional Bangladeshi wedding. This fashion is constant for many years."
"The emotions which the images can transmit to people as well the work that often exists behind the scenes to get wonderful photos inspires us the most. We hope to continue letting people dream through our pictures, for the world needs dreaming more than ever in the pandemic period." The creators also shared some advice for upcoming photographers: "Think big and dream, be an enthusiast and try to inspire people through emotions. Nothing else. No matter what camera you use."
Chameleon In The Bedroom (Runner Up In Animals/Pets)
"Blue panther chameleon camouflaged in a bedroom against a blue vintage floral wallpaper background. Shot on Hasselblad H5x with mixed lighting."
Priceless (1st Place In Animals/Pets)
In Pets, “Priceless”, a portrait of a rhino shot in Germany by photographer Pedro Jarque Krebs from Peru earned the top prize. The photographer intends to turn the spotlight on the often improper use of rhino horns and launch an appeal in favor of a species increasingly endangered by poaching.
"$60,000 USD a kilo, that's what a rhino horn costs on the black market. More expensive than gold. But life is priceless. Unlike elephant tusks, which are made of ivory, rhino horns are made of keratin, the same material as nails. But the ignorance and superstition of some humans give it non-existent medicinal properties. As in everything, as long as there are buyers, there will be sellers. This will only end in education."
They tell us more about themselves: "Art Photo Travel is a non-profit association that creates cultural initiatives aimed at spreading, promoting and enhancing art, monuments, traditions, cultures and natural beauty from all around the world. Initiatives and projects address not only those who love art and culture but also those interested in the most unknown and less touristy spots of various worldwide locations. An approach focus on mature awareness towards a culture mainly orientated to support the understanding of places, populations, and people. Art Photo Travel holds every year three international photography contests to set up a new opportunity to favor the gathering among people, photography lovers, art and culture enthusiasts. The 'Siena International Photo Awards,' the 'Drone Photo Awards' and the 'Creative Photo Awards' are open to all photographers, professionals, enthusiasts, and new talents from all around the world."
Lucciole Sotto Le Stelle (Commended In Nature And Landscape)
Elks On The Mountain Top (Commended In Open Theme)
African Flower (Runner Up In Portraiture)
"Little African girl processed in the painting of the artist Eelke Jelles Eelkema who lived from 1815-1839 in The Netherlands. The dress is made of recycled plastic."
Gypsophila (Commended In Beauty)
"The English calls the gypsophila 'baby's breath." And in Germany, this plant is known as the 'bride's veil.' According to the legends, a girl who was forced to marry an unloved man turned into a sprig of gypsophila right in front of the altar."
The Sound Of Solitude (1st Place In Music)
Eric Politzer, from the U.S., won Music with “The Sound of Solitude” which represents a concert hall in a defunct Havana movie house. The shot is a tribute to Cuba and to the music that has always animated the Caribbean Island nation.
Poems For Sisters (Commended In Portraiture)
"I really love Surreal world! I use photography as a medium to express my imagination in pictures. Inspired by a Historical movie about Royal Princess in the Joseon era 1392 - 1897 ( Korea now ) at that time Princesses in the Palace wear Traditional outfits named Hanbok. I try to mix Traditional elements with Surreal touch into the Photograph."
Girl With Feather (Commended In Portraiture)
"High-End Fine-Art Portraiture is as simple, puristic, authentic as possible. It is important to me to avoid any distracting elements and to concentrate only on the essentials."
Composed (1st Place In Beauty)
Australian photographer Robert Piccoli is the winner of Beauty with “Composed,” an intimate exploration of the concept of beauty, envisioned as a condition of peace and serenity of the body, mind, and soul.
"In this image, I wanted to explore the concept of beauty from within. Beauty is a state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. It is essentially, part of your body, mind, and soul. She emanates a sense of equilibrium."
Two Seasons (Highly Commended In Nature And Landscape)
In Waves (Highly Commended In Nature And Landscape)
Unbreakable Bond (Highly Commended In Animals/Pets)
Torii (Highly Commended In Nature And Landscape)
Dark And Decadent (Highly Commended In Food And Beverage)
Plenty Of Starlings (Commended In Nature And Landscape)
"Every day in the evening at the sunsets, thousands of starlings looking for a place into the reed to spend the night. Therefore they are making beautiful shapes in the sky."
Palm Grove (1st Place In Nature And Landscape)
German photographer Hans Wichmann earned the top spot in Nature with the image "Palm Grove,” shot from a deck of a cruise ship on the Nile River in Egypt.
The Flying Bride (1st Place In Wedding)
"The Flying Bride," shot in London by British photographer Soven Amatya, won the Wedding category. The photo was taken on the occasion of a Jewish wedding during the Horah, a dance that usually ends with the spouses being thrown into the air.
The Fork 28 (1st Place In Abstract)
Filippo Drudi from Italy won the Abstract category with "The Fork" shot in Savignano sul Rubicone (Italy). The work offers a symbolic homage to the fork, an everyday object that he defines as "sinuous, elegant, feminine and symmetrical, but also threatening and seductive and with almost abstract geometric characteristics".
"I like forks, I'm fascinated by them. Sinuous, elegant, feminine, and symmetric, yet menacing and seductive. I wanted to look deep into it and find out its many personalities. In this photograph - part of my project 'The Fork'- I wanted to bring out the geometric, almost abstract qualities of this daily object."
Eternit (1st Place In Architecture)
Norwegian photographer Ingun Alette Maehlum won in Architecture with "Eternit”. The photo testifies to the existence of buildings still built with cement mixed with asbestos, despite the material being banned in Norway since 1978.
"Eternit boards were the perfect building material. The cement mixed with asbestos was supposed to be maintenance-free and became very popular, particularly along the coast where the weather can be rough. In the seventies, it was discovered that asbestos was highly dangerous when handled. In Norway, it was forbidden in 1978. Still, there are eternit board houses spread around the country."
Innocence (1st Place In Conceptual)
In the Conceptual category, photographer Jairo Alvarez from Argentina won with "Innocence," shot in Puan (Argentina). The image intends to make us reflect on the path to take when no road seems marked or when trapped in our own thoughts, we are unable to see the surrounding world.
"Where to walk when no path seems clear? Or is it that trapped in our thoughts we are not able to see the infinite possibilities of the landscape?"
Note: this post originally had 103 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.