The best photography of 2021 – New Atlas

At the end of a stellar year for photography contests we have hand-picked a selection of our favorite shots from the past 12 months. This best-of-the-best gallery includes stylish drone shots, psychedelic macro photography and some mind-bending landscapes.

Nature TTL Photographer of the Year. A wasp carries away its prey, a poor unsuspecting honeybee
Nature TTL Photographer of the Year. A wasp carries away its prey, a poor unsuspecting honeybee

Simon Jenkins

As with previous years, the big international photography contests continued to deliver the most impressive images. The Sony World Photography Awards, the Siena International Photo Awards, and The Pano Awards all served up spectacular shots.

Siena International Photo Awards. Honorable Mention - Animals in their Environment. Savannah Storm. Masai Mara, Kenya
Siena International Photo Awards. Honorable Mention – Animals in their Environment. Savannah Storm. Masai Mara, Kenya

Maymoni Maya

Interestingly, a number of wildlife photography competitions also stood out in 2021 with a variety of exceptional animal shots, from the perennial Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards to the newer Nature InFocus Photo Contest. Even the ever reliable Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards stepped up its game with an entertaining batch of finalists.

"Ninja Prairie Dog!" (Bald eagle, Hygiene, CO)
“Ninja Prairie Dog!” (Bald eagle, Hygiene, CO)

© Arthur Trevino / Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2021

As with last year’s photo contests, the pandemic was a prominent subject for many photographers who captured snapshots of a truly strange and surreal moment in history. Instead of the straightforward shots of empty city streets we saw in 2020, this year photographers seemed to focus more on the deeply weird sights this pandemic has unleashed, from bands playing music to crowds of cars to a stunning drone shot of thousands praying while socially distancing on a soccer pitch.

Fine Art Photography Awards. Gold, Photojournalism, Professional. 'Time of Coronavirus', Wuhan
Fine Art Photography Awards. Gold, Photojournalism, Professional. ‘Time of Coronavirus’, Wuhan

Aly Song

It is impossible to choose our favorite photograph of 2021 so take a look through our long shortlist and let us know what catches your eye in the comments.

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