Close-up Photographer of the Year
Title: Insect Diversity
"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. I emptied the lamp and spread the contents onto a large light-table I had left over from my slide days. I used a weak flashlight to light the details from above. I wanted 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.". Pål Hermansen
The winners of the 3rd annual Close-up Photographer of the Year competition have just been announced. And I’m a little excited to show you some of our favorite shots. Sponsored by Affinity Photo, this year’s contest saw over 9000 images submitted, from 55 countries.
Let’s look at some pint-sized pics.
The Close Up Photographer of the Year competition has nine categories:
Butterflies and Dragonflies.
Plants and Fungi.
Young Close Up Photographer of the Year
The overall winner is chosen from the nine category winners and gets the £2,500 ($3440 USD) top prize.
We really liked the competitions’ definition of a “close-up photo” as it left a lot of room for creativity. Eligible for entry was:
“Any image that shows the subject closer and in greater detail than would be seen with the naked eye is counted as a close-up photograph and can be entered in the competition.
‘Close-up’ is the spirit of the competition, but not its definition. We aim to show small flora and fauna in the wider environment and slightly wider details of the landscape around us as well as scaling into macro, extreme macro and then to the microscopic.“
The Close Up Photographer of the Year
Norwegian photographer Pål Hermanse picked up the overall title and won the “Insects” category for his shot Insect Diversity (top of page). Hermanse discovered that a lamp in his house had acted as an accidental insect trap and he spread all the creatures caught in it out on an old light table to photograph from above.
It’s a marvelous shot and really showcases how you can find photo inspiration in the strangest people.
Lots of creepy crawlies
If you thought the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition featured a lot of creepy crawlies, prepare yourself. Six of the nine categories in the Close-Up Photographer of the Year featured at least some winning shots of things that could conceivably be called “icky”, “gross”, or “terrifying to encounter at night”.
Petr Bambousek got 2nd place in the Insects category for this photo of a colony of ants hunting a hornet.
Nuno Cabrita was one of the finalists in the Animals category for this shot of an opilione moving through some vegetation. (Things I learned while writing about this competition: Spiders aren’t insects, they’re arachnids—which means they’re an animal.)
Minghui Yuan almost undermined the Butterflies and Dragonflies category by sneaking this finalist in.
And, of course, even a cute octopus can’t help but be a bit creepy in this photo by Alessandro Grasso which won the Underwater category.
As cool as zoomed-in photos of small animals and insects are, I’ve always been drawn to the abstract side of close-up photography and the winners in the Manmade and Intimate Landscapes categories don’t disappoint.
Rachel McNulty took top honors in the Manmade category for this incredibly realistic but totally faked seascape. She used a gin bottle resting on her table as the basis for the photo.
And Daragh Muldowney won the Intimate Landscape category for this photo of an ice crack in Siberia. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this was probably my favorite photo in the whole competition gallery.
How to enter next year’s contest
There are no details out yet about the 4th edition of the Close-Up Photographer of the Year, however, there’s a companion challenge to this year’s competition running right now: the CUPOTY Challenge. According to the organizers, “the theme of this year’s challenge is ‘Two of a Kind,’ where we’re looking for two similar things in a frame—it could be a pair of objects, animals, plants, fungi, cells, etc.“
You can enter the competition between now and Tuesday 30th November for £10 (~$14 USD) for one photo or £15 (~$21 US) for three. The winner will get £300 (~$414 USD) and be featured in Amateur Photographer magazine.
Harry Guinness is an Irish freelance writer and photographer. He splits his year between Ireland and the French Alps. Harry's work has been published in The New York Times, Popular Science, OneZero, Human Parts, Lifehacker, and dozens of other places.