2021 Big Picture Natural World Photography Awards

The 2021 Big Picture Natural World Photography Winners were announced.

Grand Prize

Hope in a Burned Plantation

Mallacoota, Australia

Iconic Australia is captured in this particular moment as a resilient kangaroo pauses in a burned eucalyptus plantation. Nearly three billion animals perished or were displaced in the cataclysmic Australian bushfires of 2019 and 2020. This eastern grey kangaroo and her joey represent the lucky survivors, escaping from an area that had been transformed by humans for farming and then devastated by fire.

Jo-Anne McArthur
Toronto, Canada

Jo-Anne McArthur is an award-winning photojournalist and the founder of We Animals Media. For almost two decades, she has traveled during a large part of each year to document the plight of animals on all seven continents and share their stories worldwide. She has authored three books and was the subject of a documentary, The Ghosts in Our Machine.


Aquatic Life Category


Koror, Palau

The photographer swam with this battery of barracuda in the Blue Corner for four days, looking for the perfect angle. At the end of a 50-minute dive on his fifth day, the fish allowed him to swim among them as part of the school and he captured this fisheye view. On the sixth day, he joined the fish without his camera.

Yung-Sen Wu

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Yung-Sen Wu is a self-taught photographer originally from Keelung City, Taiwan. Although he specializes in macro underwater photography, his curiosity about underwater techniques motivated him to achieve this unique perspective.


Terrestrial Wildlife Category


Great Bear Rainforest, Canada

This spirit bear, one of only a few hundred white bears in this subspecies of black bears in the coastal rainforests of British Columbia, is known by the name “Boss.” After lowering his head into the river in search of salmon roe, he pulled his head up and shook, droplets spiraling around his head, looked at the photographer for a split second, and then plunged back into the water for his meal.

Michelle Valberg

Gloucester, Canada

Michelle Valberg has traveled to every continent in search of adventure and photographic opportunities for more than 30 years, and is especially passionate about Canada and the Arctic. She is a Nikon Ambassador, philanthropist, and community leader, has published four books, and is the first Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence.


Winged Life Category

Beak to Beak

Mount Seymour Provincial Park, Canada

After preening each other’s feathers, the ravens took turns inspecting every nook and cranny in each other’s beaks—talking to one another throughout the process. In three winters of observing the gift-sharing, grooming, and singing courtship behaviors of ravens on the mountain, the photographer had never witnessed anything like this.

Shane Kalyn

Vancouver, Canada

Shane Kalyn is a self-taught photographer who works as a fisheries technician with the Canadian government—a job that takes him to some amazing and remote corners of British Columbia. He has traveled to 47 countries and counting, and is a Lead Photography Co-Instructor of conservation photography workshops offered by the Canid Project.


Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora Category

Another Planet

Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland

What looked to be mountains from the ground turned out to be extinct volcanoes as captured by this drone shot taken on a cloudy day in June, at the time of the midnight sun. The unusual perspective of an inhospitable landscape stained by traces of iron oxide creates an otherworldly atmosphere.

Fran Rubia

Roquetas de Mar, Spain

Fran Rubia is an electrician who has studied photography via the Centro Andaluz de la Fotografía since 1997. His work has won numerous awards and he has contributed to many publications, exhibitions, and conferences. His most extraordinary photographic experience was his first view of the deep green sky of the Northern Lights on a frigid night in the Arctic.


Art of Nature Category

The Goblet of Fire

Toplepada, India

This mushroom, illuminated by a simple flashlight, was one of many fungi growing around the photographer’s house in the countryside. During the monsoon season, the mushrooms released thick, yellow-brown spores throughout the day for almost a month—a common but often ignored phenomenon.

Sarang Naik

Mumbai, India

Sarang Naik is a nature and wildlife photographer who specializes in creative and abstract photography. In recent years, he has been documenting the urban wildlife of Mumbai. He also works with Marine Life of Mumbai, a community-driven initiative that documents and raises awareness about Mumbai’s marine biodiversity through shore walks and social media.



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