The bizarre and beautiful winners of the 2020 BigPicture photo award
In its seventh year the BigPicture photography competition has rapidly cemented its position as one of the most impressive nature photography contests around, and this year’s winning images are no exception, from the gorgeous grand prize winning shot of a mountain hare sheltering itself to a mind-bending snap of a cheetah almost catching its impala prey.
Presented by the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the photography competition spans six different categories, including winged animals, aquatic life and terrestrial wildlife. A Photo Story category also looks for the best series of images on a given theme, which this year was Coexistence.
The Grand Prize this year went to UK photographer Andy Parkinson, for a sublime shot of a mountain hare curled up trying to weather a brutal storm on the Scottish highlands. Suzi Eszterhas, chair of the 2020 competition jury, suggests the winning shot not only captured something common from an extraordinary new perspective, but also offers a compelling metaphor everyone in the world can currently relate to.
"In this photo we see a hare as we've never seen it, curled up in a ball and looking rather like a sculpture as it's bathed in sub-arctic light,” says Eszterhas. “Andy has created an image that has it all: technical perfection, artistic skill, and behavior. To me this is an image of beauty and resilience that speaks to weathering a storm. An image that I believe the world needs now more than ever."
Winner of the Photo Story category was US photographer Ami Vitale’s deeply touching series of photographs looking at a wildlife sanctuary in northern Kenya. The conservation project is managed by the indigenous Samburu people who are working to protect wild animals from poachers.
Other highlights include an elephant trying to sneakily steal a snack from an open-air kitchen in Malawi, a bat in Mozambique swooping down for a drink of water, and a magical shot of non-hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Take a look through the gallery to see more this year's stunning winners and finalists.
These images originally appeared on bioGraphic, an online magazine about science and sustainability and the official media sponsor for the California Academy of Sciences' BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition.