2021 Competition Winners

NPL photographers were 2021 Competition Winners in many of the leading photo competitions across the globe. Here we celebrate not only the winners, but also the runners-up, finalists and commended images.

MontPhoto overall winner


Will Burrard Lucas won the main Prize of Honour award in the 25th Spanish MontPhoto competition with his ghostly long exposure shot of a leopard. Will told us more about how he achieved this image:

“I spent a year photographing leopards at night using my Camtraptions camera trap system in Laikipia, Kenya. I had between five and eight camera traps running at all times, which I moved around as I learnt more about the leopards’ habits. One of the most ambitious images I tried was to expose a leopard with stars in the sky at night. The technique required a long exposure time to expose the stars and a flash to expose the foreground. On this night, a large male leopard came past while the moon was still above the horizon which resulted in this ghostly image.”









Vogelwarte Overall Winner

Markus Varesvuo from Finland won the main prize in the  Swiss Vogelwarte competition, with his striking image of a male black woodpecker. Markus told us the story behind the image:

“I had a vision of catching the black woodpecker from above as it searches for food on the tree trunk, a less common perspective for images of this species. I worked on the project on several days during the midwinter days in Kuusamo, Northeastern Finland. Without a doubt it is my favourite from last year and I was very happy to learn of its success in the Vogelwarte competition.”

Markus took this photo on a cloudy December day providing plenty of light but little contrast. He used a wide angle lens on a camera attached to the tree trunk and a remote control shutter release.







Close-up Photographer of the Year

Norwegian Pal Hermansen’s image entitled Insect Diversity won both the Insect category and the main prize in the third Close Up Photographer of the Year competition. Pal revealed how he created this image:

“In the autumn of 2020, I discovered that one of the lamps on my house in Norway had a defect and had acted as a light trap for insects. After emptying the lamp and spreading the contents onto a large light-table, I used a weak flashlight to light the details from above. My aim was to express the chaos and diversity of this discovery, but also to find some kind of composition. To me, it’s a visual reminder of the important and extreme diversity of animals around us that we take for granted.”


Golden Turtle Photographer of the Year

Magnus Lundgren was named overall winner of this competition, having achieved second place in three different categories.



Wildlife Photographer of the Year




Several NPL photographers were successful in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition 2021. Alex Mustard’s ornate pipefish photo won the Natural Artistry category,  Doug Gimesy received two highly commended notations, and Juergen Freund and Will Burrard-Lucas received one each.




GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year

NPL photographers also featured strongly in the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 2021. Danny Green won the mammals category, Magnus Lundgren won the Man and Nature category, and David Pattyn was runner-up in the birds category. Bruno D’Amicis was highly commended in the mammals category and Pal Hermansen in both the birds and other animals categories.


Multi-competition Success



Polish photographer Mateusz Piesiak’s beautiful photograph of bramblings feeding in a winter sunflower field was recognised in no less than five 2021 competitions. They were Emotion’Ailes , Vogelwarte Fascinating Bird Photography, Nature Conservancy,  European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Montphoto. Well done Mateusz!







Recognition for rare leopard images

Will Burrard-Lucas’s coverage on the leopards of Laikipia, including the first professional images of wild African black leopards, also enjoyed several successes. In addition to Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature Photographer of the Year commendations, Will also garnered the Books prize in the CommArts Annual awards and was a finalist in the Sony Photography Awards.

More successful portfolios

Both Stefan Christmann and Milan Radisics won portfolio awards in 2021. Stefan won the Collective Portfolio in Ocean Photographer of the Year with his intimate emperor penguin photography. Milan won the Nature portfolio prize in the Hungarian SajtoFoto competition with his fascinating sustainable energy image set, taken in Spain and Hungary. You can scroll through the full portfolios below.


Browse our 2021 Competition Winners gallery

We have created a new 2021 Competition Winners gallery including all our photographers’ images that were successful in 2021 photo competitions. You can browse the full selection and find out the exact details of the awards and commendations.