With constant advancements in photographic technology, it's no wonder photo enthusiasts have looked upward to discover new ways to see the world.
Drones have allowed us to see things we normally wouldn't have access to—taking us inside a fireworks display and the effort to combat looting in Jordan, for example, and allowing us to monitor wildlife from the sky. (Related: "5 Surprising Drone Uses.")
Now, the inaugural Drone Aerial Photography Contest has encouraged drone photographers to showcase their work in the increasingly popular hobby. The contest is a collaboration between National Geographic France and Dronestagram, a website that allows drone photography hobbyists to share their photos and videos.
The winning photo for the inaugural National Geographic France/Dronestagram Aerial Photo Contest, seen above, shows an eagle flying over Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia.
Eric Dupin, CEO of Dronescape, the company that owns Dronestagram, and a drone photographer, talked to National Geographic about the significance of drone photography and what this contest means for the community.
What was Dronescape's involvement with the contest?
We were at the origin of this initiative. I wanted to launch an international contest to show the best pictures made from drones and show how stunning they can be. We proposed NG France to be our partner in the choice of the pictures, and they agreed.
Why do you think interest has increased in drone photography?
I think it is a new visual language, a new way of discovering things and landscapes. People can now buy cheap drones starting at $50 and take pictures and videos with it. Of course, for really high-quality pictures, they'll have to spend more, between $500 and $1,000, but if they want to learn and start, it is cheap and spectacular. Drone photography depicts a new vision of the world, adding a layer between traditional aerial pictures and ground pictures.
How many submissions were there?
The response was very enthusiastic: About 1,500 pictures were submitted for the contest.
How were the winners selected?
First of all, to be selected, a picture had to be "liked" at least 20 times by the readers, which helped us make a short list. After this first selection, we met with NG France's chief editors and manually selected the best pictures for the Jury Prize. The choice of the eagle was a collective one.
What were some of the criteria for the winning images?
The first criterion was that the picture had to be amazing, spectacular, and obviously, be representative of drone photography. NG France added one criterion, which was very valuable: The picture should tell a story.
If there is another contest in the future, how might the criteria be different?
We have ideas for a future contest next year, maybe a new concept, like a Drone Photography Festival with an awards night, sponsors, etc.—like an Oscars of drone photography.
What do you think this contest says to the drone photography community?
Come and post thousands of stunning pictures from all around the world, and let's build a new map with a bird's-eye view.