Hasselblad announced the names of the 12 winners of its 2021 Hasselblad Masters competition for photography, which this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a contest. 

It’s undoubtedly one of the most distinguished competitions from a camera manufacturer for (mostly) professional photographers. In fact, a list of some of the past winners reads like a list of some of the most prominent names in professional photography over the past 30 or 40 years: Anton Corbijn, Howard Schatz, Michael Grecco, Jim Brandenburg, Patrick Demarchelier, Joyce Tenneson, Albert Watson, and Mary Ellen Mark, among others. 

There’s one category that’s not for pros and it’s the Project//21 category, which is open to all amateur photographers, students, assistants, and young professionals 21 years old and under.

The awards are impressive: Each photographer receives a new medium format mirrorless Hasselblad camera to call their own. But it’s not the only award. Each winner also obtains a new title, “Hasselblad Master.” For some photographers, winning the title is a significant achievement. For example, Maria Svarbova, a Slovakian-based fine-art and commercial photographer, who took home one of the awards in 2018, says that in 2021, “it was great to see the number of talented photographers who submitted their work. Earning the title of Hasselblad Master is an accomplishment on its own and now these winners will forever be a part of Hasselblad’s history.” 

Bara Prasilova, a Prague-based fashion and beauty photographer, who won in 2014, says that “winning this prestigious award is a career and life-changing event for photographers.”

This striking image is by Ramon Vaquero, who is a pro photographer based in Spain. Vaquero won for the Hasselblad Masters in the Beauty & Fashion category. Ramon Vaquero

The List of Winning Hasselblad Masters for 2021

Here are the 12 winners from this year’s Hasselblad Masters 2021 contest:

  • Aerial category: Florian Ledoux​ (Norway)
  • Architecture category: Albrecht Voss (Germany)
  • Art category: Gavin Goodman (South Africa)
  • Beauty & Fashion category: Ramón Vaquero​ (Spain)
  • Landscape/Nature category: Honghua Shi​ (China)
  • Portrait category: Marek Würfl (Slovakia)
  • Product category: Paul Fuentes (United Kingdom)
  • Street/Urban category: Nikolay Schegolev (Russia)
  • Wedding category: Mati Machner (Austria)
  • Wildlife category: Alice Zilberberg (Israel)
  • Project//21 category (for non-professional photographers): Yihao Wang (China)

In addition to the winners in these eleven categories, Hasselblad also added a new category, called “Heritage.” According to the company, Hasselblad cameras “have captured numerous photographs that have become known as classic, iconic images, and therefore, are part of our heritage.” For this category, photographers were asked to use their creativity “to show us your photographs that celebrate our heritage.” Here’s the first winner in this new category:

  • Heritage: Marcus Møller Bitsch (Denmark)

Hasselblad Masters 2021: About the competition

This image was created by Paul Fuentes, who won the Hasselblad Masters in the Product category. Fuentes, along with Ilse Fuentes, is part of a two-person design team, Paul Fuentes Design, based in the United Kingdom. The duo has a fun, comical style, which they say combines “the best of two artistic movements and transforms them into pastel-colored compositions. French surrealism and the culture of Pop Art.” In their work, the design team says they want to “remind people how fascinating the world is by producing images of food, animals, and objects.” Paul Fuentes

Hasselblad’s website says that the competition consists of 12 categories and that a photographer can enter each of the categories once. To enter a category, a photographer must submit a series of three photos. The judging is conducted by three different juries: The Hasselblad Internal Jury, the Hasselblad Public Jury, and the Hasselblad Grand Jury.

The Rules: Hasselblad states that a Hasselblad camera is not required to enter the competition. Submissions can be made using any camera brand and in any format, although it must have a minimum of 16 megapixels. Additionally, images captured on drone cameras or with film cameras are acceptable. However, photographs shot with smartphone and tablet cameras are not eligible.

The rules also state that the Hasselblad Masters competition is open to all photographers who have been active professionals for more than three years. (The Project//21 category is the one exception.) To find out more about the contest, click here. To learn more about the rules for the 2021 contest, click here.

Hasselblad Masters 2021 category: Wildlife

“Be Here Bison” by Alice Zilberberg, from her series, “Meditations 2019-2021.” For this series, Zilberberg produced digital montages in post-production of animals that she says are “an expression of self-therapy.” For the artist, her depictions of these creatures reinstate tranquility and a sense of calm in a tumultuous urban world. Alice Zilberberg

This year’s winner in the Wildlife category is Tel Aviv-based photographer, Alice Zilberberg. She was born in the former Soviet Union, raised in Israel, and then moved to Canada. She’s a graduate of Ryerson University’s photography program, which is where she began her artistic practice. She’s the winner of numerous competitions, including winning first place in the International Photography Awards, the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, and the Fine Art Photography Awards. In addition to winning the Hasselblad Masters award, Zilberberg’s work is displayed in galleries across North America, Europe, and Asia, and her work has been featured in many publications.

Zilberberg includes some intriguing behind-the-scenes YouTube videos on her website, as well as comments on her process. For instance, here’s how she describes the process of finding inspiration: “Many different sources in my life help me to generate ideas. Philosophy, psychology, travel, and other art are all potential sources of inspiration. The complete artistic concept rarely comes in one piece. It is often the case that ideas from different areas are amalgamated into a theme.”

Hasselblad Masters 2021 Category: Wedding

This image was captured by Mati Machner, who won in the Wedding category for the Hasselblad Masters competition. Mati Machner

Mati Machner, who won the 2021 Hasselblad Masters award in the Wedding category, is a wedding, elopement, and portrait photographer, based in Vienna, Austria. His work is a bit more moody and abstract than what you might expect. But it also has an expressionistic quality to it that we just love. You can see more of Mati’s beautiful work on his website.

Hasselblad Masters 2021 Category: Aerial

This photo was captured by award-winning nature and drone photographer, Florian Ledoux, who is based in Norway and who won the Aerial category. Florian Ledoux

Florian Ledoux says his photography celebrates “the beauty of the frozen continents, its incredible wildlife inhabiting the ice edge, powerful but yet so fragile.” According to his website, a large part of his work is based on aerial images, which he writes, offers “a new perspective on the fauna we already know through traditional photography.” By creating images via drones, he believes he has “a new approach to observe and document wildlife.” To see more of Ledoux’s work, go to his website.

Next year’s contest: Hasselblad Masters 2022

This photo is one of the images created by South African photographer Gavin Goodman that helped him win the Hasselblad Masters award for the Art category. On this website, Goodman calls himself “a photographer, surfer, superfood junkie, born and raised in the beautiful city of Cape Town.” It’s interesting to note that he’s a veteran of the local film industry, but he says he always had “a pull and strong fascination toward the still-image.” He transitioned to being a still photographer about 15 years ago but notes that his eye for storytelling and technical knowledge of light and camera working as a cinematographer and director of photography in the film industry helped him as a photographer. Goodman also recently started his own agency, Semblance, which specializes in photographic art for the interiors market. Gavin Goodman

At the moment, there’s no information on next year’s 2022 contest, but be sure to go and check out the Hasselblad Masters webpage to look for updated information. Also, we’ll add any updates here, to this webpage, as well.  

This image, which is part of a series titled, “Returning Home,” is by Paris- and Copenhagen-based photographer, stop-motion animator, and illustrator Marcus Møller Bitsch, who won for the Heritage category, which is a brand new category this year. Marcus Møller Bitsch

More images from the Hasselblad Masters 2022 competition

Here are the winners of the other categories in this year’s Hasselblad Masters 2021 competition:

This portrait was shot by Slovakian photographer Marek Würfl, who won for the Portrait category. Marek Würfl
Chinese photographer Yihao Wang produced this image, which helped the photographer win in the Project//21 category. Yihao Wang
This image, which is one of the winning shots in the Architecture category, is by Albrecht Voss, who is an advertising photographer and film producer with a focus on architecture. He says he also likes to include special techniques in his work as well, such as painting with light or including drone images. “I keep finding new ways to show my motifs from other perspectives,” he writes. Albrecht Voss
This black-and-white landscape photo was created by Chinese photographer Honghua Shi, who won in the Landscape/Nature category. Honghua Shi