Take a peak at the Close-up Photographer of the Year winners

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.

Close-up-Photographer of the Year winner, Samantha Stephens
Nature’s Pitfall” by Samantha Stephens, overall winner and 1st place Animals

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.

Slime mold growing on a log
“Hemitrichia Calyculata” by Nathan Benstead, 1st place Youth

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.

Close-up photo of oil and water by Matt Vacca
“Oil & Water 44” by Matt Vacca, 1st place Manmade

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.

A photo of a spider hiding from its prey
“Mayan Derriere” by Jamie Hall, 1st place Invertebrate
Close-up of a termite swarm in the late afternoon
“Intruder” by Anirban Dutta, 1st place Insects
An intimate capture of the details and structures of unique rock formations and potholes
“Artwork of Nature II” by Klaus Axelsen, 2nd Place Intimate Landscape
A close-up of a beautiful Atlas moth by Uday Hegde
“Atlas Moth” by Uday Hegde, 2nd Place, Butterflies & Dragonflies
A photograph of a mature Comatricha, growing on an old fence post, covered in ice
“Ice Encrusted Comatricha” by Barry Webb, 1st place Fungi