15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

Categories: Animals | Beauty | Nature | Photo project | Photo School | World

Every year, we get to witness the most amazing shots of nature and animals in their natural environment taken by talented photographers of all ages. This year is no different as Nature’s Best Photography International Photography Awards has revealed the winners and highly honored images of 2023, which were selected from 15,000 amazing submissions.

In total, there were 11 categories from which we highlighted the winning images and honorable mentions from categories such as Wildlife, Youth, Conservation, and Animal Antics. If you would like to see all the 113 finalists, make sure to visit the site of the NBP International Awards.

The NBP International Awards Grand Prize was claimed by Luis Vilariño from Spain, while Meline Ellwanger of Germany, won the title Youth Photographer of the Year with a photo of a polar bear peering out of an empty hut.

So, without further ado, we invite you to immerse yourselves in the beauty and diversity captured by these photographers, and if you are interested in participating yourself, stay tuned for an upcoming announcement regarding next year's competition.

More info: naturesbestphotography

15 PHOTOS

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#1 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Brown Bear And Cub By Jennifer Smith

“Only about 50% of brown bear cubs make it past their first year. Their survival depends upon the special relationship between adult females and their young. This close bond is imperative as the mother provides not only food but also protection and guidance. Here, a cub has its eyes on what the sow is eating.”

Pictolic reached out to the organizers of Nature’s Best Photography Awards, who shared when the competition started and what changes have happened since it began in 1995.

“Nature photographers travel the globe to document its beauty and diversity. They witness breathtaking landscapes, fascinating wildlife behavior, and surprising glimpses of Earth’s soaring peaks and mysterious ocean depths. The powerful images and stories these photographers bring home to awaken our desire to explore, enjoy, and conserve the natural world.

In admiration and support of these visually driven storytellers and the important impact they have made since cameras were first invented, the Nature’s Best Photography (NBP) concept was born in 1995. NBP’s ambitious goals are to recognize, celebrate, and support this ever-growing body of work and the dedicated photographers of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of camera expertise behind it. All NBP initiatives strive to engage and involve global audiences, enhance artistic expression, promote outdoor education and personal well-being, and inspire greater public participation in the conservation and preservation of the natural world.

Over the years, camera technology has changed dramatically, from film to digital capture. Social media has given global platforms to photographers, enabling them to instantly share images and stories. These changes in technology and dissemination have transformed our awards program. High-definition computer monitors have allowed us to better process, review, and manage the increased volume of image submissions. Photographers now have better tools and greater access to destinations; their skills have improved through workshops, careful observations of pros, and research online.

With the growth of our awards program, our mission has evolved to become one of the most prestigious photography competitions of its kind. In 1998, we partnered with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, to exhibit our best photography each year—an alliance that lasted 15 years. Today, we reach an international group of nature photographers with a passion for wildlife and wild places who want to spread appreciation and inspiration for conservation practices, and exhibit the winning images in prestigious venues across the globe.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#2 Birds: Winner – Mute Swan And Cygnet By Andy Parkinson

“Throughout the entirety of my more than 20-year professional career, I have always been very much a project photographer. I seek to immerse myself completely in the lives of the animals or birds with which I work, striving to capture images that other photographers have not been able to capture. These local swans are one such example, choosing to live next to a footpath close to my Derbyshire home. Every day, I would visit and sit close by, speaking to them, gaining their trust, and learning about their body language. When the cygnets finally hatched, I was able to work at a unique proximity where the birds would not tolerate other humans to capture this touching family interaction.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#3 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – African Lion Cub By Nisha Purushothaman

“Lion cubs are among my favorite photo subjects. Focusing on this fellow as the lionesses prepared to target a herd of eland, his eyes darted between his mother and our vehicle, giving a variety of amusing expressions.”

Since judges were flooded with over 15,000 submissions from all over the world, we were curious what they looked for when picking the winning photos.

Organizers replied: “Nature’s Best Photography Awards are juried by seasoned professionals in photography, journalism, art, science, and conservation. Entries are narrowed down based on overall appeal, good composition, artistic merit, originality, and diversity of photo subjects. With each entry, judges ask themselves: How do these images engage our interest? Is the entry technically sharp and well-exposed? What story is being told visually?

After passing through the semifinal round of judging, the raw, untouched files are requested and inspected to make sure the highest-res photos have not been technically altered, but reflect the scene as it appeared in the field. We ask photographers to confirm that their subject was not baited, lured, staged, or taken in a controlled situation, and was taken following our code of ethical photography.

One longtime judge and NBP supporter, Charles Veatch, explained, “Subject, composition, use of light, and clarity of focus are the areas I draw upon when casting my vote to move an image entry from one round of judging to the next.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#4 Art In Nature: Winner – Green Basilisk By Petr Bambousek

“During one of many walks in the natural habitat of the basilisk, I found this male resting on a fallen tree trunk half submerged in water. I carefully moved closer to capture his splendor and avoid any distracting elements in the shot. One of my biggest dreams had come true.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#5 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – African Savanna Elephant By Staffan Widstrand

“This African savannah elephant was trying to camouflage itself behind a too-small bush. When we came driving by, the elephant had stepped behind the bush in an apparent attempt to hide. When we stopped to watch, it seemed to realize its cover was blown, so it calmly walked away.”

Nature is our home and sparking conversations about preserving it is of utmost importance both for the NBP Awards and the photographers.

From co-founder, Steve Freligh, "What we have treasured over the years is the immediate and long-lasting effect a single image or film instills in the hearts and minds of children, adults, and families alike, inspiring discussions, imaginative perspectives, and most importantly, a greater understanding and appreciation of nature overall. People will only be moved to save what they love, and NBP strives to support important causes and to encourage awareness of the outdoors."

As the Grand Prize-winning photographer, Luis Vilariño says, “Nature photography should inspire changes in society that involve and mobilize people to create a better and more sustainable world.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#6 Youth: Highly Honored – Mute Swan By Nicolas Stettler

“This mute swan had just noticed another conspecific intruding into its territory. I was focused on the swan as it spread its wings and approached the other to chase it away. Pollen covered the water’s surface, which created beautiful bokeh balls against the golden light of the setting sun.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#7 Polar Passion: Winner – Polar Bear And Cubs By Hung Tsui

“This mother polar bear was exhausted from finding food for her babies and just wanted to steal a moment to sleep. After being fed, the cubs would not let the mother rest and tried to wake her up to play.”

NBP awards also have a separate category for young people who can share their best work. We asked the organizers to share why it is important to recognize young photographers.

“Young photographers age 18 and younger may enter their photos in the NBP Awards so we may recognize and encourage their passion for nature through the art of photography. Many of our past winners have emerged to become professional photographers, teachers, naturalists, and conservationists. We look forward to their future contributions to protect our natural heritage.

We have enlisted a group of Nature's Best Ambassadors from our past and present youth winners. This team of award-winning nature photographers and conservationists will help create innovative mentorship for emerging photographers worldwide. Their unique social media skill sets, energy, and storytelling capabilities will amplify our natural history messaging and youth-directed activities to chart the course for a vibrant and sustainable future.

One of the Ambassadors, Meline Ellwanger, is the current Youth Photographer of the Year. She is from Germany and a student at Montana State University studying Wildlife Ecology. Meline's profound love for the outdoors and wild animals led her to focus on nature photography. Over the past few years, she has traveled extensively, seeking out unique global locations and animals to capture through her lens. Her mission is to evoke profound emotions and a deeper connection to nature with her images.

As an aspiring Ambassador for young girls in the photography industry, Meline aims to support them in achieving their dreams and strives to raise awareness about the significance of safeguarding our natural wonders and the importance of preserving them for future generations. She has grown a large following on Instagram and on TikTok.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#8 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Gharial And Hatchlings By Santosh Jana

“Gharial offspring frequently fall prey to various predators—both aquatic and avian. An adult will carry babies on its back to keep them out of the reach of fish and will drive away birds by any means necessary. This natural phenomenon is often seen in some of the rivers in India.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#9 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Bull Moose By Deena R. Sveinsson

“We awoke one morning to a blanket of fresh powder snow. While the photographers were busy taking photos of the moose, the moose was walking from car to car, licking the salt. But ‘Hoback,’ the largest moose in the Tetons, was licking the tires, the lights, and the car hoods. He then peered into our car and glared at a stuffed moose on the dashboard. Hoback pushed against the Jeep with his nose and began to spar. Getting nowhere, he licked some more and then wandered off.”

The organizers shared some quotes from their past youth winners. Joe Sulik explains, “Discovering photography was the most empowering event in my life; suddenly, I had the means of sharing my intimate connection to the natural world with others and a tool to give the multitudes of species on this planet a voice.”

“Photography is our best chance to arouse public awareness to protect the world's biodiversity." —Zander Galli, past Youth Photographer of the Year, and NBP Ambassador.

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#10 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Cheetah And Cubs By Krishnan Gopala Krishnan

“The image shows a cheetah and her cubs waking up at sunrise. While their mother was stretching, the curious cubs sat and watched our vehicle. Cheetah cubs typically will stay with their mom for 18 to 24 months before going their independent ways. They watch and learn all the tricks of survival from their mothers. Visiting the Mara over the past eight years, I have seen fewer and fewer cheetahs. Recently, the authorities laid down strict rules regarding the viewing of cheetah cubs to ensure their population grows in the future. We will have to wait and see if this is successful.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#11 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Polar Bear Wave By Jennifer R. Bellon

“Loss of the icepack threatens the polar bear by compromising its hunting ability. We waited several days to capture the polar bears in their natural snow and ice. Finally, near the end of our trip, it snowed, and we were fortunate to see this particular bear stand up on his hind legs as if waving to us.”

In addition, we also wanted to know how Nature’s Best Photography brings together nature lovers and photographers worldwide, besides the awards. They wrote: “Through the decades, NBP has built a historic body of work that reveals some of nature’s finest moments. Each photograph chosen as an award winner represents a single moment in the ever-changing web of life—a brief and irreplaceable record that brings both immediate and long-lasting impact and connects the image maker and image viewer.

Photographs are a celebration of creative talent and discovery; they cross the boundaries of language, age, and culture. These images reveal moments that stop us in our tracks and encourage us to view them again and again. As you turn through the pages of our publications and online galleries, you are encouraged to celebrate the beauty, drama, and significance of each photograph, reminding us that nature is precious—we must all become better stewards for the future health of the planet.”

“Our vision for the exhibitions at Children’s National is to deliver uplifting visual storytelling to those who may benefit from it the most. These scenes and their stories will instantly transport viewers from the stress of the hospital environment and into the wonders of nature, inviting imagination and curiosity to become a highlight of their day.”—Steve Freligh, NBP Awards Co-founder and Director.

Photographs and videos from our nearly 30 years of past awards are displayed in Children’s Hospitals and Clinics and also in prestigious museums and galleries across Africa, the UK, Asia, and the US, bringing together the public with the work of today’s best wildlife photographers.“The Nature’s Best Photography displays are such a beautiful way to help our patients and families reconnect with nature,” remarks Martha Parra, CNH Vice President of Clinical Support Services, Children's National Hospital in DC. “These images convey such an important sense of balance, peace, and joy.”Currently, there is a Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition open now through April 2024, in Jackson, Wyoming at the National Museum for Wildlife Art. NBP worked in collaboration with the African Wildlife Foundation in support of their many successful cutting-edge conservation programs on the continent of Africa. Learn more about the Mkapa Awards.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#12 Landscapes: Winner – Superstition Mountains Sunrise By Peter Coskun

“I made my way to this duo of teddy bear cholla and barrel cactus beneath my favorite peaks in the Superstition Mountains and carefully composed this scene before sunrise. The warm glow of sunrise began to paint the mountain peak, and the sky lit up with various shades of pink and orange, creating a mosaic of color in this desert landscape. The image is comprised of three consecutive frames with each frame using a different focal point to stack for optimal detail.”

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#13 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Red Fox By Yonatan Stern

“A beautiful sunny day greeted me in this gorgeous park. Before sunrise, I set up my mobile hide about 165 feet away from a dead tree. During my earlier research of this area, locals told me that this particular tree attracts many birds of prey. Golden eagles did not appear, but just before I packed up, a red fox climbed up, looking directly into my eyes for a brief moment. It was one of the most pleasant encounters with a red fox I have ever had.”

Lastly, the organizers added: “The Nature’s Best Photography Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supported through individual donations, alliances, foundation grants, corporate partnerships, and program sponsorships. Please support our efforts at this link: NBP Fund.

Please share your favorite outdoor photographs and stories. Whether they are from your backyard or exotic destinations, your art can make a meaningful difference in the way others view the natural world. New competitions will be opening soon for 2024. Learn more at Nature's Best Photography.

See the complete collection of current NBP International Awards.

Get the Winter 2023 special edition featuring all the finalists and the stories behind the shots.

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#14 Grand Prize Winner: “Volcano In The Clouds” By Luis Manuel Vilariño

"While a squall covered Reykjanes peninsula, I ascended to the base of Geldigadalir—Iceland's youngest volcano. Magma rising from the mantle formed gigantic bubbles 30 to 50 feet in diameter, which burst when they reached the surface. Lava was emerging with unusual force, overflowing the drainage channel and scattering the incandescent rock like oil on a canvas." 

15 Images That Captured Nature’s Beauty And Diversity And Were Selected As Best By NBP Awards 2023

#15 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Alaskan Brown Bears By Amit Eshel

“Born to a mother estimated to be about 25 years old, the little blonde female cub had no other brothers or sisters to play with. All this cub wanted to do was play with other bears. I took this shot at eye level using a floating hide to create an intimate feeling.”

Keywords: Images | Nature | Animals | Beauty | Beauty of nature | Nature photography | NBP Awards

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