Now in its fourth year, the Close-Up Photographer of the Year Awards has just announced its winners. With over 9,000 pictures from 54 countries, the jury has selected the best close-up photographs across eleven categories: Animals, Insects, Butterflies and Dragonflies, Invertebrate Portrait, Micro, Young, Fungi, Plants, Intimate Landscape, Underwater, and Manmade. There is also a youth category for photographers under 18 years of age.
This year, Canadian photographer Samantha Stephens was named the overall winner for her striking image of two salamanders being consumed by a carnivorous pitcher plant in Algonquin Provincial Park. For her winning image, she toke home the title and cash prize of £2,500 (approximately $4,079 CAD). The contest, which is supported by Affinity Photo 2, is a spectacular showcase for micro and macro photography and honors the small details of life that often go overlooked.
A professional photographer, Samantha’s winning image came about as she shadowed researchers in the Algonquin Provincial Park.
“Northern Pitcher Plants normally feast on moths and flies but researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station recently discovered a surprising new item on the plant’s menu: juvenile Spotted Salamanders,” she shares. “While following researchers on their daily surveys I saw a pitcher with two salamanders floating at the surface of the pitcher’s fluid, both at the same stage of decay. I knew it was a special and fleeting moment. The next day, both salamanders had sunk to the bottom of the pitcher.”
Stephens’ photograph also won the Animals category.
The youth category was won by 17-year-old British photographer Nathan Benstead. His lovely photo of slime mold growing on a log was captured as he wandered in his local forest.
The Close-up Photographer of the Year competition was founded in 2018 by Tracy and Dan Calder — a husband and wife team with photography and editorial backgrounds. They felt that macro photography was being overlooked and wanted to set up an annual competition that celebrated close-up, macro, and micro photography. Their aim was to show the things that are often overlooked, or go unseen without the aid of a macro lens or microscope.
From an artistic photo of termites under attack to a look at how a spider disguises itself to catch prey, all of the winning photographs are a marvelous look at the world in detail. Check out some of the winners and favourites below.