Nature Photographer of the Year Reveals Riveting Winning Pictures From 20,000 Entries From Across the World

Nature Photographer of the Year Reveals Riveting Winning Pictures From 20,000 Entries From Across the World
(Courtesy of Sascha Fonseca/NPOTY 2022)
1/4/2023
Updated:
1/5/2023

Back and bigger than ever, Nature Talks’ annual Nature Photographer of the Year competition has revealed its winners for 2022. The winners were chosen in 13 different categories after the judges considered 20,952 entries from 96 different countries.

Taking the overall top spot and a prize of 3,000 euros, Russian photographer Dmitry Kokh won with his haunting photo, “House of Bears,” portraying arctic polar bears dwelling in an abandoned house.

The photo was taken during a voyage to Chukotka and Wrangel Island in September 2021. Kokh and his fellow expeditioners sailed along the arctic coast, covering over 1,200 miles of untouched landscapes and abandoned villages, before reaching the small island of Kolyuchin during a storm. There they found its forlorn Soviet weather station which was deserted in 1992.

Nature Photographer of the Year

"House of Bears" by Dmitry Kokh. (Courtesy of Dmitry Kokh/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"House of Bears" by Dmitry Kokh. (Courtesy of Dmitry Kokh/NPOTY 2022)

Noticing movement inside a window of one of the abandoned buildings, Kokh launched a drone with low-noise propellers to investigate. There were approximately 20 bears inside the building, mostly males, while the females stayed by the shoreline with their cubs, the photographer explained in a press release.

Luckily for Kokh, two curious male bears peered outside, intrigued by the “weird-looking bird” buzzing above. Even luckier, they looked directly at the camera, giving Kokh his winning shot. He calls “House of Bears” alongside other photos from the expedition “snapshots of a premonition,” in a world where human and animal needs collide.

“Decades after people moved out, polar bears moved in,” judge Karin Van Couwenberg said. “Dozens of polar bears have been making themselves at home in abandoned buildings ... both polar bears evoke the emotions of the audience effectively.”

Birds

"Urban Kittiwakes" by Knut Sverre-Horn of Norway took the top spot in the Birds category. "In a way, it’s a simple scene, but it throws you in the role of a respectful, invisible witness, as nature photographers should always be," judge Myriam Dupouy said. "The light casts attention to simple yet tender moments." (Courtesy of Knut-Sverre Horn/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Urban Kittiwakes" by Knut Sverre-Horn of Norway took the top spot in the Birds category. "In a way, it’s a simple scene, but it throws you in the role of a respectful, invisible witness, as nature photographers should always be," judge Myriam Dupouy said. "The light casts attention to simple yet tender moments." (Courtesy of Knut-Sverre Horn/NPOTY 2022)

The winners of 12 other categories deliver more beautiful and provocative pictures. Winning the Birds category, a simple and tender scene depicts a family of kittiwakes, photographed by Knut Sverre-Horn from Norway. They are dramatically backlit by warm sunlight casting their avian silhouette shadows on a fiberglass screen.

The ghost of the mountain, the snow leopard, is prominently featured in the winning photo in the Mammals category. This was photographed by Sascha Fonseca of Germany and the United Arab Emirates, who employed a camera trap to capture a closeup of the elusive and endangered feline.

Clémence Till won the Youth (11–17) category for an arresting picture of a grounded young owl that stumbled from its nest. “I was able to observe this young owl around its nest’s tree for a few minutes,” Till said. “It was probably experiencing its first flight in spring and must still have had some difficulty flying correctly, as I found it on the ground when I arrived in the area.”

Portfolio Award

"Bear in The Backyard" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. Romanian brown bear populations boomed after former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu banned bear hunting for all except himself and his guests. As a result, there are now around 6,000 brown bears in Romania, said the winners of the Portfolio Award. That equals half the brown bear population of Europe. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Bear in The Backyard" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. Romanian brown bear populations boomed after former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu banned bear hunting for all except himself and his guests. As a result, there are now around 6,000 brown bears in Romania, said the winners of the Portfolio Award. That equals half the brown bear population of Europe. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/NPOTY 2022)

The explosion of brown bear populations in Romania is featured in an eye-opening photo series by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen, who won the Portfolio Award. Bear hunting was banned by former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu—except for himself and his guests. Now, there are some 6,000 brown bears in Romania, they said, which is equal to half the brown bear population of Europe.

Entries for 2023’s competition will be accepted on its website starting Jan. 16. Meanwhile the winners of the 2022 competition will be touring on exhibition through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.

Mammals

"The World is Mine" by Sascha Fonseca of Germany/ United Arab Emirates was described by judge Karin van Couwenberg as "camera trap photography at its best." "The snowy landscape and the amazing view of the mountains in the background resulted in a mystical moment," she added. "All the elements combined in the photo evoke strong emotions." (Courtesy of Sascha Fonseca/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"The World is Mine" by Sascha Fonseca of Germany/ United Arab Emirates was described by judge Karin van Couwenberg as "camera trap photography at its best." "The snowy landscape and the amazing view of the mountains in the background resulted in a mystical moment," she added. "All the elements combined in the photo evoke strong emotions." (Courtesy of Sascha Fonseca/NPOTY 2022)

Other Animals

"An Adaptation for Death" by Bernhard Schubert of Austria features a curious display that invites conversation about the plight of the Branchipus schaefferi invertebrate, otherwise known as "fairy shrimp." They lay their eggs in drying water bodies and rely upon the seasonal return of water. (Courtesy of Bernhard Schubert/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"An Adaptation for Death" by Bernhard Schubert of Austria features a curious display that invites conversation about the plight of the Branchipus schaefferi invertebrate, otherwise known as "fairy shrimp." They lay their eggs in drying water bodies and rely upon the seasonal return of water. (Courtesy of Bernhard Schubert/NPOTY 2022)

Plants and Fungi

"Cold and Warm" by Soare Laurentiu of Romania creates "harmony" with its complementary colors, lines, and patterns, while fog and steam add "mood" to an excellent shot. (Courtesy of Soare Laurentiu/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Cold and Warm" by Soare Laurentiu of Romania creates "harmony" with its complementary colors, lines, and patterns, while fog and steam add "mood" to an excellent shot. (Courtesy of Soare Laurentiu/NPOTY 2022)

Landscape

"The Island" by Helga Urbán of Hungary features a drone shot that combines more than just a unique point of view; a vantage point facilitated by aerial technology is matched with "a sapient composition, and great lights," said competition Chairman Marco Gaiotti. (Courtesy of Helga Urbán/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"The Island" by Helga Urbán of Hungary features a drone shot that combines more than just a unique point of view; a vantage point facilitated by aerial technology is matched with "a sapient composition, and great lights," said competition Chairman Marco Gaiotti. (Courtesy of Helga Urbán/NPOTY 2022)

Underwater

"The Rain I've Been Waiting For" by Kazushige Horiguchi of Japan features a split image showcasing two different moods. "A dark stormy landscape above the water contrasts with the apparently calm and still life underneath the surface, depicting toads laying eggs," competition Chairman Marco Gaiotti said. "The raindrops touching the water surface are the contact point between these two different worlds." (Courtesy of Kazushige Horiguchi/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"The Rain I've Been Waiting For" by Kazushige Horiguchi of Japan features a split image showcasing two different moods. "A dark stormy landscape above the water contrasts with the apparently calm and still life underneath the surface, depicting toads laying eggs," competition Chairman Marco Gaiotti said. "The raindrops touching the water surface are the contact point between these two different worlds." (Courtesy of Kazushige Horiguchi/NPOTY 2022)

Nature Art

"Trees and Stars" by Csaba Daróczi of Hungary looks like something from a Tim Burton film, according to judge Stefan Gerrits. "Lots of drama," he said. "These star-shaped cracks on the surface of the ice, or rather sky in this case, are getting larger in size and are breathtaking to stare at. The dynamic, blurred tree line gives this image a clear perspective." (Courtesy of Csaba Daróczi/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Trees and Stars" by Csaba Daróczi of Hungary looks like something from a Tim Burton film, according to judge Stefan Gerrits. "Lots of drama," he said. "These star-shaped cracks on the surface of the ice, or rather sky in this case, are getting larger in size and are breathtaking to stare at. The dynamic, blurred tree line gives this image a clear perspective." (Courtesy of Csaba Daróczi/NPOTY 2022)

Black and White

"Otter in Icehole" by Ernst Dirksen of the Netherlands appears both "humoristic" and "very attractive," judge Stefan Gerrits said. (Courtesy of Ernst Dirksen/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Otter in Icehole" by Ernst Dirksen of the Netherlands appears both "humoristic" and "very attractive," judge Stefan Gerrits said. (Courtesy of Ernst Dirksen/NPOTY 2022)

Animal Portraits

"Summer Season" was another win for Kokh, featuring a polar bear in a "perfect pose" and a "once-a-lifetime condition." (Courtesy of Dmitry Kokh/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Summer Season" was another win for Kokh, featuring a polar bear in a "perfect pose" and a "once-a-lifetime condition." (Courtesy of Dmitry Kokh/NPOTY 2022)

Nature of De Lage Landen 

"Coot" by Franka Slothouber of the Netherlands. "A coot was swimming towards me, hoping for me to throw some bread in the water," Slothouber said. "I didn’t have any bread with me, but I noticed the coot left a nice ‘smokey’ swimming trail behind. By turning my circular polarizing filter the water almost turned black, creating a beautiful contrast and making the colors of the beech leaves stand out." (Courtesy of Franka Slothouber/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Coot" by Franka Slothouber of the Netherlands. "A coot was swimming towards me, hoping for me to throw some bread in the water," Slothouber said. "I didn’t have any bread with me, but I noticed the coot left a nice ‘smokey’ swimming trail behind. By turning my circular polarizing filter the water almost turned black, creating a beautiful contrast and making the colors of the beech leaves stand out." (Courtesy of Franka Slothouber/NPOTY 2022)

Youth (11–17) 

Budding photographer Clémence Till of Switzerland won the top spot in the Youth category with her photo of a young owl, "First Flights Missed." (Courtesy of Till Clémence/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
Budding photographer Clémence Till of Switzerland won the top spot in the Youth category with her photo of a young owl, "First Flights Missed." (Courtesy of Till Clémence/NPOTY 2022)

Portfolio Award

"Bear in The Backyard" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. Bears are worshipped in Transylvania in a traditional Ursul (bear) dance to ward away evil spirits in winter. But bear habitats and food sources have grown increasingly scarce due to the illegal logging of old-growth forests; bears have begun to encroach on urban spaces in search of food, leading to conflicts with humans. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Bear in The Backyard" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. Bears are worshipped in Transylvania in a traditional Ursul (bear) dance to ward away evil spirits in winter. But bear habitats and food sources have grown increasingly scarce due to the illegal logging of old-growth forests; bears have begun to encroach on urban spaces in search of food, leading to conflicts with humans. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/NPOTY 2022)

Runners-up

Birds

"Sound of Colors" by Rupert Kogler. (Courtesy of Rupert Kogler/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Sound of Colors" by Rupert Kogler. (Courtesy of Rupert Kogler/NPOTY 2022)

Mammals

"Fire_of_Creation" by James Gifford. (Courtesy of James Gifford/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Fire_of_Creation" by James Gifford. (Courtesy of James Gifford/NPOTY 2022)

Other Animals

"Shelter" by Marco Maggesi. (Courtesy of Marco Maggesi/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Shelter" by Marco Maggesi. (Courtesy of Marco Maggesi/NPOTY 2022)

Plants and Fungi

"Undertow" by Csaba Daróczi. (Courtesy of Csaba Daróczi/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Undertow" by Csaba Daróczi. (Courtesy of Csaba Daróczi/NPOTY 2022)

Landscape

"Resilient Tree" by Gianluca Gianferrari. (Courtesy of Gianluca Gianferrari/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Resilient Tree" by Gianluca Gianferrari. (Courtesy of Gianluca Gianferrari/NPOTY 2022)

Underwater

"Blue Crab" by Martin Broen. (Courtesy of Martin Broen/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Blue Crab" by Martin Broen. (Courtesy of Martin Broen/NPOTY 2022)

Nature Art

"Footprints in Color" by Juan Garcia Lucas. (Courtesy of Juan Garcia Lucas/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Footprints in Color" by Juan Garcia Lucas. (Courtesy of Juan Garcia Lucas/NPOTY 2022)

Human and Nature

"Flamingo_airport" by Tamani Cédric. (Courtesy of Tamani Cédric/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Flamingo_airport" by Tamani Cédric. (Courtesy of Tamani Cédric/NPOTY 2022)

Black and White

"A Walk Through the Dunes" by Craig Elson. (Courtesy of Craig Elson/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"A Walk Through the Dunes" by Craig Elson. (Courtesy of Craig Elson/NPOTY 2022)

Animal Portraits

"Adelie Penguin" by Zhengze Xu. (Courtesy of Zhengze Xu/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Adelie Penguin" by Zhengze Xu. (Courtesy of Zhengze Xu/NPOTY 2022)

Lage Landen

"Tribute to The Starfish" by Franka Slothouber. (Courtesy of Franka Slothouber/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Tribute to The Starfish" by Franka Slothouber. (Courtesy of Franka Slothouber/NPOTY 2022)

Youth

"Female Pygmy Owl" by Luca Lorenz. (Courtesy of Luca Lorenz/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Female Pygmy Owl" by Luca Lorenz. (Courtesy of Luca Lorenz/NPOTY 2022)

Portfolio Award (Continued)

"Bear on The Road" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Bear on The Road" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/NPOTY 2022)
"Grabbing Garbage" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Grabbing Garbage" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/NPOTY 2022)
"Cheeky Youngster" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Cheeky Youngster" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/NPOTY 2022)
"Unexpected Visitor" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/<a href="http://www.naturephotographeroftheyear.com/">NPOTY 2022</a>)
"Unexpected Visitor" by David Hup and Michiel van Noppen. (Courtesy of David Hup and Michiel van Noppen/NPOTY 2022)
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