These Are The Best Urban Photographs Of This Year’s Agora’s Urban Contest (50 Pics)
Urban photography is like a window into the world, opening to infinite perspectives. Cities are known to be huge playgrounds for photographers as every hour of the day offers new perspectives for them, from the deserted streets in the morning to the bustling nightlife: a relentless source of inspiration to capture amazing photos of the most beautiful treasures of architecture and urban spaces.
These 50 stunning pictures from cityscapes around the world have all been selected as finalists in the #Urban2020 Photo Contest by Agora, the free-to-use photography app where people create, vote, and curate the best photos made worldwide since 2017.
#Urban2020 gathered more than 21,322 submissions from amateurs and professional photographers around the world.
The voting phase is now open on Agora to decide who will be the #Urban2019 Hero who will win a cash prize of $1,000.
The winner of this photography contest will be announced through Agora's social media channels on Thursday 9th January 2020.
More info: agoraimages.com
Two Opposed Worlds
By @hadangkhoa (Vietnam)
Nightscape In Rome
By @henrydo (USA)
The majesty of Rome's iconic symbol was perfectly captured by @henrydo: "Rome has been completely urbanized but they still kept many historic sites to preserve the history. I think it fits quite well with the hashtag. This shot was a composite of 2 separate images taken at a different time in the same location. Many people thought a drone is capable of capturing the lit-up night sky but the technology isn't that advanced, yet. If I win, I will donate part of my prize to a charity to fight plastic pollution in the ocean and save marine wildlife."
Sinking In The Fog
By @borsch (Russia)
Russian photographer @borsch entered the competition with a foggy aerial view of his hometown, Moscow.
By @marcelvanbalken (Netherlands)
Dutch photographer @marcelvanbalken said: "It was very bad weather, a lot of rain. So I had to take this picture with my camera in one hand and an umbrella in the other. The urban space in a play of light and shadow form shows an almost surrealistic decor. Pure black-and-white, in which the photography of architecture begins to take on abstract forms, reinforced by the apparently disproportionate addition of the man. If I win, I want to purchase a drone to be able to photograph urban spaces from a height."
Art Or Architecture?
By @johandroneadventures (Belgium)
Brussels-based photographer @johandroneadventures snapped this aerial shot of the Home of Arts (HOTA) in Gold Coast, Australia: "Urban for me isn't only about cities and skylines, it's also about the integration of urban and nature. This is a beautiful example of a structure that was well designed and integrates seamlessly with the environment."
By @karaemurphy (USA)
With this photo, @karaemurphy declares her love to the Windy City: "Chicago is one of the best cities in the world. The architecture, alone, makes it a must-visit destination. The food is wonderful and the people are friendly. Because the photo is a bit eery, it lends itself to the grit that big cities are known for. I wanted to capture this building (Two Prudential Plaza) at dusk. Since it was cloudy, I was able to capture a moody, Gotham City-type feel to the photo. Since Chicago is an urban hub, it's important to calibrate your compass outside the city so there's little to no signal interference when flying a drone. I was able to find a secluded spot near the building so I could keep the drone in sight. If I win, I would use part of it to donate to charitable organizations such as SF Camera Works which supplies young, underprivileged children with gear and education so that they get a head start on something they're passionate about. The rest I would use for a destination trip with my drone."
By @øystein (Norway)
@øystein spotted this flower growing through asphalt while driving back from work: "I was driving this quite heavily trafficked road when I saw this lonely flower standing strong among all the concrete buildings. Later that evening I brought my kit and hoped that it still was standing there. I think this flower symbolizes how strong an individual can be if they have to. An urban setting that depicts the struggle and strength of both nature and man, and how this can lead to growth and success."
by @angiolomanetti (Italy)
Italian photographer @angiolomanetti waited for the nighttime to photograph these residential buildings in Odaiba, Tokyo: "When I saw these buildings, I was immediately struck by the genius of the architecture and the ability to make a building in something satisfying to the eye. I had just begun to mount the tripod when it started to rain heavily, which made me nervous because I wanted to ponder the scene well and look at the ideal point, but the situation had become complicated. I was about to give up shooting when I regained self-control and started thinking about how I could still get a satisfying shot. I hope I succeeded! If I win the contest, I'd like to go back to where I took the photo and try to do even better!"
By @notanothermica (Belgium)
@notanothermica snapped this impressive shot while exploring the urban area of Charleroi, Belgium: "This is one of the most famous spots in Belgium for urban exploration. The door to enter this power plant is sometimes closed, which makes it not easy to get in. On that day, I was lucky because the door was open and there was some good light, which caused the cool glow on the metal of the powerplant. I wanted to place a person inside the power plant to had a reason for the viewer to relate to the photo."
By @wunderbilder (Germany)
@wunderbilder captured this photo on a trip to Rome: "During our visit, we stayed in a flat in this building and I found the staircase geometrically very interesting. There was no elevator in the building."
By @leemumford8 (UK)
British photographer @leemumford8 snapped the incredible architecture of Hong Kong view from above: "Sometimes you don’t get the same sense of scale until you look at something from above. As the day turns to dark, I captured the hustle and bustle of the city streets. As the street lights turned on, the roads lit up in this bright yellow-orange which I like to call the cities veins. As the light was fading, a longer shutter was needed as I wanted to keep the ISO fairly low to help reduce noise. As this was an aerial shot, it was a fine balance before camera shake was an issue. The visibility on this particular was so clear, conditions I’ve been unable to replicate since."
By @leo.wies (Germany)
By @cunodebruin (Netherlands)
@cunodebruin never gets tired of shooting the busy streets of Tokyo: "It was raining for a couple of days when we were in Tokyo. I actually loved the moody vibes and started to capture that. It's so much more different than any other place I've been to. The vibe, people and streets are a special thing. This was one of my favorite shots from those days: it's always busy and there's always something going on in Tokyo. It's an urban vibe. The blue color, the neon, the tones, and rain make it a real urban shot. It almost has that Blade Runner feeling!"
By @paulaaranoa (Argentina)
Argentine photographer @paulaaranoa loved to explore the mysterious streets of Barcelona's gothic neighborhood: "The story behind the photo shows a character who is walking through a dark path, however, the light is wrapping itself around him. On this day, the light was perfect. I watched how the people walking by were wrapped by the light, I spent at least an hour in the same place until the light changed... it was a unique spectacle and I consider myself privileged to have witnessed it."
By @tom.bridges (UK)
@tom.bridges captured the beauty of Sweden's capital from high up: "I wanted to emphasize the center of the image, that represents the heart of Stockholm, portrayed in the warmer tones and colors. It is surrounded by an arctic environment, with the frozen lake encapsulating the boat in the foreground, to the flurries of snowmaking their way into the image in the background." even though he mentioned that "controlling a drone in temperatures of - 10 degrees wasn’t that fun!"
By @alicesukiasyan (Armenia)
@alicesukiasyan took this photo in the streets of Yerevan, the capital and largest city of Armenia: "The eyes of the man in the reflection actually are little stones which were in the water when I captured the photo. In my opinion, some emotions or moments can seem frozen due to photography - but at the same time, it can transmit strong dynamics. The eyes of the man in reflection are looking right into viewers' eyes, which somehow creates contact between the viewer and the photo."
By @laboussole.seon (France)
French expat @laboussole.seon took this photo of the legendary Yick Fat building in October 2017: "Hong Kong is the most exciting and most contrasted urban environment I know. With this photo, I wanted to transmit the feeling to be trapped in a city, in the middle of tall buildings with a high density of apartments, and the sky seems so far away. I took the photo at sunset so that the colors of the sky are an invitation to peace and warmth, to contrast with the main subject. It is challenging to take a photo in this place, as it is a famous spot, mostly for Instagram. I went a couple of hours before sunset secures a good spot. Shortly after this shooting session, the management of the building has added a sign forbidding photo taking as it became too disturbing for the people actually living in the building. unfortunately for them, it doesn’t seem to have stopped tourists."
By @msubirats (Spain)
@msubirats visited this popular sunset spot in Munich, Germany: "I was amazed by the number of people in this city who take a moment to watch the sunset at night."
By @azimronnie (Bangladesh)
@azimronnie shares some facts about this picture taken in his hometown, Dhaka: "The 500 enormous vessels used to transport bricks, sand and other goods, are either being built or are docked for maintenance work in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Shipbuilders in Bangladesh began exporting their ships to other countries in 2009, and it has since become a growing trade in the area."
By @jprphotos (UK)
@jprphotos captured one of the many trams that run through the busy streets of Budapest: "This image was all about making the tram stand out as much as possible, thanks to the contrast in colors against the color of the tram, and also the slightly experimental lighting. It took me over 3 hours to get this shot because the tram line wasn't in the center of the bridge. It was difficult to get a really good looking composition: it took me many tries trying to get the tram the right distance away from the camera in order to make it look more in the center than it was. Also, no tripod was involved..."
By @ericc_photography (Spain)
@ericc_photography captured NYC's climbable sculpture, Vessel, during a surprise trip to New-York with his mother: The incredible thing about this photo is that when I was visiting this attraction, the shopping center next door turned on the air conditioning, causing the curtain of condensation, rain, and fog that we can see in the photo.
Chicago’s Metro Transport
By @hwilson8 (USA)
The second entry for the Windy City in this Contest, this time shared by @hwilson8 who captured the sweetness of her son riding the metro for the first time: "There is a clear story behind this photograph. It can be interpreted in many ways, but I wanted to convey the feeling of wonder and awe this little boy clearly had while traveling on the CTA in Chicago. The intrigue and curiosity are seen in his eyes as he looks around at his surroundings. This is a rural kid who is meeting the big city for the first time. If I won the prize, I would further advance my own learning and craft, both to document the world around me and tell the story of the lives of rural America."
By @frankseltmann (Germany)
This peculiar spiral staircase was snapped by German photographer @frankseltmann in Munich: "I went up and down the stairs many times to capture the staircase through different angles. The difficult part was that these stairs were going to a Café, hence why people went up and down and made it difficult for me to shoot this photo."
By @nguyenvuphuoc (Vietnam)
@nguyenvuphuoc spotted these two female workers on Saigon's under-construction new metro line: "When they saw me taking pictures, they asked me: Why? We are not beautiful, you should go and photograph beautiful girls instead."
By @ajuriaguerra (Spain)
@ajuriaguerra entered the competition with a snapshot of Bilbao's iconic architecture: "Built in 1964, the so-called “Houses of the Americans” makeup three blocks that reinterpret the experience of Le Corbusier in “L´Unite d' Habitation” in Marseille, especially with the composition. The image shows the life of its inhabitants, entering and leaving their homes. It seems as if we were seeing a plane. The image perfectly captures the theme #Urban2020, since it is an urban construction, a block of houses in which human activity is manifested in the image."
By @banudiker (Turkey)
@banudiker snapped this picture while sailing on the Nile River, Egypt: "We were sailing away from Cairo's noisy neighborhoods. There is a lot of monotonous, colorless tall buildings along the Nile River in downtown. When I saw this building that is totally different from the others, I started to imagine the life of people living there."
By @damiane (Georgia)
@damiane hopes to win the #Urban2020 contest with this photo taken in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital city.
Can't Stop Won't Stop
By @theliamman (UK)
@theliamman shot this photo nearby the telephone box outside St Paul's Cathedral, London: "I wanted to transmit a sense of adventure. Cities come alive at night and I wanted to capture that bustling energy as the day turns to night. The top of this phone box was filthy if you want to do the same photo I recommend wearing clothes that you don't wear often... I am going to be filming an orphanage in Ethiopia next year as well as a short documentary on the Park Rangers in the Serengeti (Tanzania). This $1,000 prize would go a LONG way to helping fund that as I am unpaid volunteering."
By @leowillgo (Venezuela)
In this shot taken in Stockholm in May 2019 while covering Greta Thunberg's march 'Fridays For Future', @leowillgo wanted to transmit the moody feeling of the modern world we live in: "If I win the contest, I will help my family back in Venezuela, things are not so good back there and that's why I came to Europe: to grow and help them."
By @dlr (Australia)
With his photo, @dlr shows how Australia's third-largest city is adopting a very futuristic and forward-looking feel: "My wife, daughter and I were driving through this area late one evening, and we both commented on how complex this freeway interchange seemed. I thought to myself that this would look particularly amazing from the air, so I decided to go back the following weekend with my DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, to capture the scene from above. This freeway interchange runs over the top of a local waterway known as Breakfast Creek, which is renowned for its mosquito population. Needless to say, I came home covered head to toe in mosquito bites. My body was itchy for a week! I was super impressed with how well this image turned out though, so I think that the pain of the mosquito bites was more than worth it. I'm hoping that Brisbane residents see this photo and feel a sense of pride, and realize just how quickly this amazing city and its urban infrastructure is growing."
By @i.ride.to.drone (Singapore)
By @zuzijanek (Slovakia)
Slovak photographer @zuzijanek draws her inspiration from her hometown, Bratislava: "This photo was taken during my walk from work. It was a long time I wanted to take a picture of this building. At that moment it reminded me of Tetris Game. I also liked the contrast with the blue sky and little clouds. I often just strolling the streets of Bratislava looking for new views of the city. I have many images of the same buildings but not the same views. It is very exciting for me to look for new points of view on the same things."
By @dmartphoto (Sweden)
@dmartphoto shares one of the many reasons to love Sweden's capital city: "Stockholm's subway is probably the quickest way to get around town. Every day, hundreds of people use "the world's longest art gallery", with more than 90 of the network's 100 stations decorated with sculptures, rock formations, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings, and reliefs by over 150 different artists. Rådhuset station is probably one of the busiest stations in the city. I knew the photo I wanted to take before going, but I had to wait almost two hours with the camera set on a tripod until I finally got the spot empty with a solo traveler."
International Children's Library
By @diselpower_gallery (Japan)
Japanese photographer @diselpower_gallery snapped his girlfriend walking by the International Children's Library in Ueno City, Tokyo: "This photo was quite challenging to take, as the mirror acts as a spiral around the main subject of the photo. I'm more used to take photos inside this building, so this time I really enjoyed challenging myself to take photos outdoor."
By @niroshan_a (USA)
@niroshan_a flew his drone to take this outstanding shot of San Francisco's skyline.
By @donaldhyip (Australia)
Melbourne-based photographer @donaldhyip had a fantastic time snapping the Cityscape of Dubai over Sheikh Zayed Road: "Dubai is the epitome of a modern, urban landscape, and I wanted to convey this in my image: the electric feel and futuristic aesthetic of the city. The rooftop gave me a beautiful vantage point over a city that looks like something out of the future. This photo was taken on level 43... the Burj Khalifa in the background is nearly 4 times higher!"
Churrería De Guardia
By @danilupea (Romania)
@danilupea snapped this traditional churros stand on a cold winter night: "The owner was about to close the stand, but decided to serve one more hot chocolate to this couple who was out on a romantic date."
City Of Gold
By @patriciasoon (Malaysia)
@patriciasoon entered the competition with a panoramic shot of Dubai, aka the City of Gold with "a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles".
Mind The Gap
By @_kennyc_ (UK)
@_kennyc_ entered the competition with an iconic shot from the London Tube: "Heading out later at night in London was something I loved to do - it’s a stark difference to the hustle and bustle of the day, giving photographers with completely different scenes to work with. The underground, in particular, is eerily peaceful compared to the mayhem of rush hour. At the time I had recently been inspired by a number of street/urban photographers who had captured some stunning scenes from various subways around the world - so one evening I picked up my camera and ventured below ground. This particular shot is an idea I’d had in my head ever since I watched the fantastic short film ‘Mind The Gap’ directed by Luke Flanagan. This iconic message/recording is played out throughout the Underground network and heard by millions of Londoners every day. It’s a message instantly recognizable to anyone that has lived in this incredible city, and something I wanted to capture in a picture. I knew the message wasn’t just played out through speakers, but painted in bright yellow paint on the floor of many tube stations. I thought getting a close-up shot of this while capturing the speed of a moving train would make for a pretty cool shot - I wasn’t wrong! While the Tube is iconic to many people around the world, ‘MIND THE GAP’ is iconic to Londoners."
By @olegp (Germany)
With this photo, @olegp reflects on how smartphones and modern communication tools can affect our relationships: "I think that this picture reflects very well social life in a modern urban environment. I mean, nowadays no matter how small the room is, we will not even notice that we are not alone in this room. We are more interested in our virtual friends than making new acquaintances in real life. In the modern urban environment, the inhibition to speak to a stranger has become too high and we flee into the comfortable environment of digital communication. But even traveling with our real friends, everyone disappears into their own digital world. This feeling I got looking at the couple in the upper right corner of the picture. The funny coincidence is that this scene took place in a museum of modern art (Tate Modern, London). People on the photo I shot are like an exhibit of this museum, portraying the modern human and social togetherness."
Sunrise In The City
By @tobboh (Germany)
@tobboh loves to shoot at his local train station, as it's a place where there are many stories to be told: "Dresden Hauptbahnhof is one of the most beautiful stations in Germany with great architecture. This picture shows the beauty of the moment and how you can easily transform your time waiting for something in astonishment for the wee things right beside you. I was observing the people around what they were doing while waiting on the train. Some just stood there. Others, like this woman, took a shot of the sun rising and some just were listening to their music or hurrying to catch the next train. But you can only find the beauty around you when you take some time and even miss one train while admiring the morning sun. An extra story to that shot is that I got controlled by the police shortly afterward. They were wondering what I was doing and couldn't see any reason to take out the camera. I think I could convince them that there are many good shots around even though you might not see them in the first place."
By @anhtrungqng (Vietnam)
Every day, thousands of motorcycles and cars crowd the streets of Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon, the largest city in Vietnam where @anhtrungqng snapped this shot during the evening rush hour.
Night Court Press
By @thedronelad (UK)
By @pifpie (USA)
By @birazhayalci (Turkey)
By @javito80 (Spain)
While shooting Barceloneta's iconic hotel at sunset, @javito80 met a new model: "When I was preparing this picture, one french girl asked what I was doing, and when I explained she asked me to took some pictures of her. Then, we did also a photoshoot on the beach."
By @nataliworldphotography (Spain)
By @benskaar (USA)
16-year-old photographer @benskaar snapped his friend skateboarding over a drainage gap in an abandoned chemical factory: "I want people to feel intrigued by this photo, and wonder what the setting is while also being amazed by the height my friend achieved while skateboarding. The backstory: We arrived here mid-day and spent a few hours exploring the abandoned buildings. We found this gap with great backlighting so I got down low to the floor and was able to capture my friend Ollieing over the gap in the floor from a low angle. We had to be very careful with this shot. The floor was covered in shattered glass so we had to clear that out of the way to make room for him to skate and for me to lie down for the shot. I think this photo gives an abandoned “urban” feeling to the viewer and makes the viewer feel like they’re in part of an abandoned city."
By @ares_mahol (Spain)
@ares_mahol remembers this photoshoot in Lleida: "We looked for a location that would fit the urban theme, and found these stairs in an area where young people from different gather to sing, dance and spend their afternoons. It was very cold: I was covered from head to toe as opposed to my model who wasn't wearing much. You can't even tell, but she's actually freezing!"