The Best Drone Photos of the Year

See winning photographs from the fourth annual Dronestagram contest.

Photographers across the globe are taking to the sky, using drones to capture eye-catching images not so easily documented once before.

To distinguish this work, the fourth annual international Dronestagram contest is recognizing outstanding drone photos in this emerging field.

“We were stunned by the great quality of the pictures submitted this year,” said Guillaume Jarret, Dronestagram’s managing director. “The level [of talent] has considerably increased, and the technology has, too.”

The most frustrating part, Jarret added, was that judges wanted to reward more than three photos in each category. As an unplanned result, contest coordinators decided to award three extra pictures in a new category titled “creativity.”

“I was blown away by the creativity of the photos in this contest," said Jeff Heimsath, one of the contest judges (and also National Geographic’s associate photo editor for Travel and Adventure). "The selection process was far from easy, this contest has certainly surfaced the best drone images from around the world.”

The photos in this gallery showcase the top three winners and additional finalists in each category: Nature, People, Urban and Creativity.

Nearly 8,000 entries—a new record for the contest–were submitted from around the world by professional photographers and amateur drone enthusiasts. Together, they celebrate the beauty of drone photography. Jarret says: “It’s a new photographic language and a new way of seeing the world, a way to see everything just like a bird.”