European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021

A selection of incredible images from the 50th anniversary of the competition organised by the German Society for Nature Photography.

Category: Mammals, Highly commended: Arctic fox in a swarm of mosquitoes ©Arnfinn Johansen/GDT 2021

About the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition

The European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has unveiled the winning and highly commended images, and they’re a stunning showcase of the beauty and diversity of life on planet Earth. Organised by the German Society for Nature Photography (GDT), 2021 represents the 50th edition of the competition, and competition was fierce.

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Over 19,000 photograph were submitted from 36 countries, representing the work of over 1,000 professionals, and were whittled down by an international jury. For 2021, this comprised Viktoria Haak (Canada/UK), Ofelia de Pablo (Spain), Jim Brandenburg (USA), Ole Jørgen Liodden (Norway) and Andrew Parkinson (UK).

The main focus of the competition are the wildlife eight categories; Birds, Mammals, Other Animals, Plants and Fungi, Landscapes, The Underwater World, People and Nature and Nature’ Studio. One image from these is judged the overall winner, and there are two separate awards for young photographers aged up to 14 years old, and 15 – 17 years.

Spanish photographer, photojournalist and author Angel Fitor was crowned 2021 European Photographer of the Year for his ethereal image ‘Medusa Ballet’, which shoes jellyfish in the Mar Menor lagoon in Spain, Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon.

Overall winner: Medusa ballet ©Angel Fitor/GDT 2021
Overall winner: Medusa ballet © Angel Fitor/GDT 2021
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Judge Jim Brandenburg commented that  “the powerful image spoke strongly to us jury members on many levels, and after the ecological catastrophe that occurred only a short time later at the place where it was taken […] it [the winning photo] also speaks about the massive environmental problems of this region.”

Fitor used multiple flash triggers to create the illusion of a swarm, though in fact there were only two jellyfish in the water before him. Aquatic ecosystems are a point of concern for Fitor, who believes that photography has the power to initiate change to address environmental problems.

To view the images as a slideshow, click on the arrows in the top right hand corner of the photos below.


Category: Other Animals, Highly commended: Macedonian crested newt ©Nicholas Samaras/GDT 2021
Category: Other Animals, Highly commended: Macedonian crested newt © Nicholas Samaras/GDT 2021
Category: Birds, Highly commended: Great reed warbler in the reeds ©Dirk Funhoff/GDT 2021
Category: Birds, Highly commended: Great reed warbler in the reeds © Dirk Funhoff/GDT 2021
Category: Plants and Fungi, Highly commended: Like in a dream ©Agorastos Papatsanis/GDT 2021
Category: Plants and Fungi, Highly commended: Like in a dream © Agorastos Papatsanis/GDT 2021
Category: Landscapes, winner: The tree of life ©Anette Mossbacher/GDT 2021
Category: Landscapes, winner: The tree of life © Anette Mossbacher/GDT 2021
Category: Birds, Highly commended: Flamingo dream ©Uge Fuertes Sanz/GDT 2021
Category: Birds, Highly commended: Flamingo dream © Uge Fuertes Sanz/GDT 2021
Category: Mammals, Highly commended: The quartet ©Floris Smeets/GDT 2021
Category: Mammals, Highly commended: The quartet © Floris Smeets/GDT 2021
Category: Nature's Studio, Highly commended: Small comets ©Alexey Korolyov/GDT 2021
Category: Nature’s Studio, Highly commended: Small comets © Alexey Korolyov/GDT 2021
Category: Nature's Studio, Highly commended: Nature versus poison ©Gheorghe Popa/GDT 2021
Category: Nature’s Studio, Highly commended: Nature versus poison © Gheorghe Popa/GDT 2021
Category: Mammals, Highly commended: Arctic fox in a swarm of mosquitoes ©Arnfinn Johansen/GDT 2021
Category: Mammals, Highly commended: Arctic fox in a swarm of mosquitoes © Arnfinn Johansen/GDT 2021
Category: The Underwater World, Highly commended: Playground ©Alvaro Lopez-Bletran/GDT 2021
Category: The Underwater World, Highly commended: Playground © Alvaro Lopez-Bletran/GDT 2021
Category: Birds, winner: Bird migration ©Terje Kolaas/GDT 2021
Category: Birds, winner: Bird migration © Terje Kolaas/GDT 2021
Category: Other Animals, Highly commended: Captured ©Andrea Pozzi/GDT2021
Category: Other Animals, Highly commended: Captured © Andrea Pozzi/GDT2021
Category: Men and Nature, Highly commended: Playing in a vintage car ©Nicolas de Vaulx/GDT 2021
Category: Men and Nature, Highly commended: Playing in a vintage car © Nicolas de Vaulx/GDT 2021
Category: Mammals, Highly commended: Paw ©Marco Gaiotti/GDT 2021
Category: Mammals, Highly commended: Paw © Marco Gaiotti/GDT 2021
Category: Landscapes, Highly commended: Pointillism ©Helga Urban/GDT 2021
Category: Landscapes, Highly commended: Pointillism © Helga Urban/GDT 2021
Category: Young Photographers 15-17 years, winner: Forests of the Siberian jay ©Lasse Kurkela/GDT 2021
Category: Young Photographers 15-17 years, winner: Forests of the Siberian jay © Lasse Kurkela/GDT 2021
Category: Mammals, winner: After the rain © Danny Green/GDT2021
Category: Mammals, winner: After the rain © Danny Green/GDT2021
Category: Fritz Pölking Prize, winner: Nsenene 7 ©Jasper Doest/GDT 2021
Category: Fritz Pölking Prize, winner: Nsenene 7 © Jasper Doest/GDT 2021
Category: Fritz Pölking Junior Prize, winner: The spectacle ©Emile Séchaud/GDT 2021
Category: Fritz Pölking Junior Prize, winner: The spectacle © Emile Séchaud/GDT 2021
Overall winner: Medusa ballet ©Angel Fitor/GDT 2021
Overall winner: Medusa ballet © Angel Fitor/GDT 2021