SkyPixel Announces Winners of 9th Annual Photo & Video Contest

SkyPixel, one of the world’s most popular online communities for aerial photography and videography, today announces the winners of the SkyPixel 9th Annual Photo & Video Contest. Co-organized with DJI, this year’s competition attracted over 130,000 submissions – a 100% increase from the previous year. The contest welcomed submissions from across the creator community, which includes professionals, aerial enthusiasts, and creative newcomers, showcasing their personal histories through the art of visual innovation.

A Contest Shaped by You

The SkyPixel Annual Photo & Video Contest is a testament to the power of innovation led imagery, honoring stories that shape the art of image capture both on solid ground and amidst the clouds. SkyPixel has cultivated a community-driven platform that reflects the dreams and aspirations of creators worldwide, and the annual competition has been a conduit for people who love image creation to express themselves as it authentically reflects the desires and aspirations of creators worldwide.

Industry-Leading Judges

The 9th Annual Photo & Video Contest was assessed by a Judging Panel of incredible professionals in the industry. In photography, seasoned experts include Wen Huang, a World Press Photo judge and Senior Editor, and Anne Farrar, Assistant Photography Chief Editor at National Geographic, Nan Li, the Photo Director of Southern Weekly, and Daniel Kordan, a renowned landscape photographer. In the video category, the judges include Michael Fitzmaurice, the Aerial Director of Photography of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” and Xiaoshi Zhao, known for his award-winning work on “Forever Enthralled.” Bing Xi, a prominent figure in the Chinese TVC industry, and celebrated filmmaker Brandon Li round out the panel. After careful deliberation, the panel proudly presents the final winners for the year.

9th Annual Best Work Prize – Video: “Haines Alaska Through the Eyes of Luke Bredar” by Luke Bredar

This year’s video judging panel, which includes award-winning Cinematographers and Directors of Photography, chose Luke Bredar’s video, “Haines Alaska Through the Eyes of Luke Bredar.” This short film mixes heart-pounding action shots of a skier racing down a snowy mountaintop landscape with breathtaking shots of Alaska’s mountainous, winter terrain.

Luke Bredar details the thought process behind the short film, “The motivation behind creating this video was to evoke themes of otherworldliness, objective risk, the interplay between risk and the essence of human spirit, solitude, impermanence, self-sufficiency, and the journey of incomplete wandering intertwined with heartbreak.”

This short film is an epic story made in collaboration with Matchstick Productions. Bredar explains how he pursues a better visual presentation through his creative process “I think to myself. How would my child self want to see this filmed? And I almost always get a clear vision in response. There are a myriad of challenges shooting aerial cinematography in mountain environments, but they are all manageable with preemptive visualization and double or triple checking.”

9th Annual Best Work Prize – Photo: “Mongolian Yurt” by Daolai

This year’s photo judging panel, including renowned photographers and publication editors, chose the photo, “Mongolian Yurt,” shot on a Mavic 3 Pro at three times zoom. Captured on a snowy morning in the Ulan Butung Grasslands of Inner Mongolia, this photo depicts herdsmen making preparations for the grassland event. The scene is naturally picturesque, authentically depicting the lives of the herdsmen as they interact with the horses, the camels and the landscape, with their yurt, their homes, as a central focus. Against the stark contrast created by the snow, Daolai found the scene reminiscent of a traditional Chinese ink painting.

One of this year’s esteemed judges, Anne Farrar, aptly describes the impact of the image,“I was drawn to the storytelling of this image. Such a beautiful wispy landscape has a lovely painterly look, very soft and almost feels like powder. A beautiful aerial landscape that doesn’t rely on graphic quality alone and tells a community story.”

With the distinction of Annual Best Work prizes, each winner will receive over $14,000 in prizes that include an Inspire 3 in the video category and a Hasselblad X2D 100C in the photo category. Additionally, they will be signed as an official SkyPixel Creator and receive a prestigious trophy and an award certificate to honor their achievement. The SkyPixel team is hopeful that these prizes will continue encouraging the winners to pursue their passion into a growing hobby or burgeoning career, and in turn inspire the communities around them.

In addition to the Annual Best Works, the SkyPixel contest also awarded winners in both categories.

Top 10 Video and Top 10 Photo winners will each receive the DJI Mavic 3 Pro Fly More Combo (DJI RC), a trophy, and award certificate, with a total value of USD $2,999.
The 10 Nominated Prizes will each receive the Osmo Action 4 Adventure Combo and award certificate, with a total value of USD $399.
The 10 People’s Choice Prizes will each receive the Osmo Mobile 6 and award certificate, with a total value of USD $149.
Harnessing Innovation and Exploring Trends

Following the theme of “Exploring New Trends,” photographers from across the globe used visual imagery to articulate their distinctive perspectives on the future of photography. Their continual exploration and innovation reveal the new aerial photography trends that push the boundaries of creativity.

The increase in people-focused documentary content reflects photographers’ engagement with and desire to explore the human experience. Using aerial imagery, they capture urban transformations, human-centric narratives, and striking everyday moments. The authenticity portrayed in these images resonate with viewers, evoking empathy and prompting self-reflection. Among the Top 10 images of the year, “Fatigue Sleep,” chronicles two boatmen at Sadarghat, Bangladesh as they relax on their boats. Boats not only represent their livelihood but also their home, a family bond, a deep connection with the river and an unwavering commitment to their profession. Due to climate change in Bangladesh, many riverine people have lost their homes and properties due to frequent floods, river erosion and other natural disasters. They are forced to migrate to Dhaka city in search of a better future where their day starts and ends on the boat. These people have no specific shelter in the city, and boats have become a flower bed for these refugees. For content with a humanistic focus, the use of telephoto technology enables photographers to capture details and real-life moments more keenly without disturbing the subject, facilitating a more effortless creative process.

Photographers have also broken away from traditional large panoramic aerial perspectives, embracing a more nuanced approach to framing through experimentation with varied heights and angles. The pursuit of extreme heights has evolved into a sophisticated understanding of composition, leading photographers to explore low camera positions and multiple angles to present their works with ingenuity. Consequently, an increasing number of works centered on everyday subjects have emerged, revealing the beauty found within the ordinary. One such nominated image, “City Spider-Man,” captures the cleaning of a stadium facade, with the towering backdrop accentuating the proportionality of the cleaners, achieving a harmonious and vivid composition. Nan Li, a jury member, remarked, “The simplicity and balance of the image allows us to reevaluate these people who support the essential functions of the city that are often overlooked.”

This year’s competition showcases diverse picturesque visual styles. Photographers expertly capture the earth’s intricate lines and vibrant hues through the perspective of drones, creating breathtaking aerial art through inventive composition and nuanced manipulation of light and shadow. These works not only demonstrate the advancements in aerial photography technology but also signify photographers’ deep appreciation and distinct portrayal of natural beauty. The monthly contest winner, “Picture Scroll of Sea Current,” uses elegant curves to evoke a sense of softness and fluidity, while skillfully playing with contrast to mirror the aesthetic of an ink painting, capturing the serene beauty of nature.

More Stories to Tell

As the SkyPixel 9th Annual Photo & Video Contest comes to its conclusion, it’s evident that participants have embraced the theme of “Exploring New Trends in Imaging” with deep passion. From highlighting the relationship between humanity and nature to addressing humanistic concerns through telephoto technology and exploring ink-style aerial photography, this year’s submissions have charted new territories in visual innovation. Whether captured from the ground using handheld cameras or from lofty heights using drones, the possibilities for creation and self-expression remain boundless. DJI and SkyPixel extend their gratitude to the community for capturing the beauty that surrounds us, and look forward to the continued works to be shared on the platform.

To view the all of the photos and videos from the contest, please visit the official SkyPixel website for direct links to these works.

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