These are the best drone photos of the year — and they will blow your mind

The ‘Best of … Photography’ contests have a relatively new entry: drone photos. The 2020 Drone Awards celebrate the best photos taken from above, and this year’s winners are breathtaking.

“Love Heart of Nature” by Jim Picôt. All image credits of the photographer / 2020 Drone Awards.

This photo from Australian photographer Jim Picôt won the grand prize, and it’s not hard to understand why. A hungry shark is inside a salmon school, searching for the weak and vulnerable when by pure chance, the school takes the shape of a heart, beating together as a single organism.

The Nature category had other spectacular entries. From a whale gently pushing a boat of tourists to a lonely frigid road, there was no scarcity of quality entries.

Photographer Joseph Cheires: “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.”
A spring maple tree and its shadow, by Caleb Kenna
Photographer Hong Jen Chiang comments: “Driving along Ring Route 1, in a magical and enchanted landscape, I was ready to embrace whatever may lie ahead.”

Hosted by the Siena Awards Festival, the contest received entries from photographers in 126 countries, some of which will be featured on a gallery. Other categories included Urban, People, and Life Under COVID-19. Here are some of our best picks.

Big buildings couldn’t miss from drone photography.

“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,” says photographer Tomasz Kowalski.
“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,” says photographer Carmine Chiriacò, runner-up of the Urban section.
An unusual semi-wild breeding of buffaloes, that after the harvest will be free to feed in the vast plowed fields. Credits: Alex Cao.
An old windmill situated in the middle of the field on a grass path, beautifully blending in with the surroundings. Image credits: Milosz Kuss.

Sport is also at the heart of drone photography, and the Drone Awards entires vary from harmonious and peaceful to splashy and chaotic.

The tennis court creates an eerily flat image. Credits: Brad Walls.
“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.” Credits: Roberto Corinaldesi.

Of course, the drone awards couldn’t ignore the pandemic that was so impactful, effectively changing the entire society in a matter of months.

Here are some of the most powerful drone photos depicting our life in the pandemic.

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. Credits: Tomer Appelbaum.
The busiest highway in Dubai, shot with no cars present during the lockdown for the disinfection of the municipality. A moment to remember. Credits: Bachir Moukarzel.
Muslims perform Friday prayers while maintaining social distance and getting used to living with Coronavirus. Credits: Levent AteŞ.
The Parking! Credits: Peter Van Haastrecht.

Other photography categories included Wedding, Series, Abstract, and People. There were also two video categories: a general one, and another one about our life in the pandemic — a topic that was heavily in the focus. You can access the entire gallery here.

If you happen to be in Siena, Italy, you can also see the winners in an art exhibition.

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