Awards 2021

The Unsplash Awards celebrate the thousands of contributors who freely gift their work and push creativity forward every day. And now, the wait is over — it’s time for us to recognize the finalists from this year.

View finalists  →

Cash Macanaya

Manila, Philippines
Selected in
Unsplash Awards 2021

Captivating materials, color, and light. The relaxed pose made me imagine that beneath the helmet, this astronaut’s eyes are closed. I’m reminded of science fiction writing that removes real-world constraints while offering an opportunity for human reflection. A delight.

Alex Ainslie
Head of Design — Google Chrome

Simone Hutsch

London, UK — Sony ILCE-7RM2
Selected in
Architecture & Interior
Unsplash Awards 2021

This photo immediately caught my eyes, among the ones that were selected. I really like the obvious Wes Anderson vibe, but I also have so many questions: is this building real? Where is it located? Is this a hotel, a British pub, or an apartment building? I love how the background makes it stand out even more. I think that this is how an architecture picture is supposed to make you feel: it makes you question reality, and I love it!

Marine Roucheyrolle
Marketing Manager — Airbnb

Tandem X Visuals

Saskatchewan, Canada
Selected in
Current Events
Unsplash Awards 2021

The image above shows a memorial honouring First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation residential school victims on the steps of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building located in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Click here to learn more.

This is a beautifully composed photo, with the lines and textures of the shoes and stairs pointing directly to the subject, a person whose emotion emanates from the frame. It makes me want to learn more about the scene, their feelings, and the stories of all the children those pairs of shoes and stuffed animals represent.

Erika Allen
Senior Director, Global News Operations — Vice

Georgi Kalaydzhiev

Sofia, Bulgaria — Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Selected in
Unsplash Awards 2021

The category was incredibly strong, but Georgi’s photograph stood out immediately. I love the weird, unsettling nature of the image – a seemingly normal, gloomy scene that’s punctuated by this glowing, portal-like membrane. And are those hands or claws? It has echoes of some late-night sci-fi B-movie, and I immediately want to know more.

Emma Davidson
Fashion features Director — Dazed Digital

Sergey Vinogradov

Russia — Nikon D700
Selected in
Unsplash Awards 2021

There’s something very arresting about this image, it feels very raw and emotional, and you can really see the story through the picture. The composition has a sense of juxtaposing feelings, the softness of the flowers with the strongness of the face. Within that, the colours, light and dark, are beautifully combined to create what is overall a very striking photograph.

Francesca Wallace
Digital Editor — Vogue

Onur Kurt

Istanbul, Turkey — Pentax K2
Selected in
Unsplash Awards 2021

The image is pretty timeless, reminiscent of those great B&W shots from 50s & 60s, of candid moments on empty NY streets. It draws the viewer in and you start wondering what’s the story. The grain, the softer focus all adds to the narrative in a way that’s hard to recreate in digital.

Jason Heward
Managing Director — Leica

Slashio Photography

Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Selected in
Food & Drink
Unsplash Awards 2021

I chose this as the winning image because of the photographer’s whimsical approach to the subject matter. And because the visual reveals both the literal beauty of this iconic ring-shaped treat and also manages to evoke the donut’s essence: the pillowy texture and airiness indicated by the way they float across the frame. The powdered sugar, captured in granular detail, only adds to the overall lightness of the image, while dynamic lighting brings a touch of drama. A really fun food image.

Michele Outland
Creative Director — Gather Journal

Dave Goudreau

Quebec, Canada — Sony ILCE-7M3
Selected in
Health & Wellness
Unsplash Awards 2021

Health and Wellness is actually a multifaceted category. I decided on this photo leaning in on the wellness aspect. The person is embracing herself, the environment and the moment. I see this as peak wellness when you can throw your hands in the air and embrace who you are and where you are.

Victoria Estevez
Executive Producer, Production Lead — Calm

Philipp Pilz

Bielefeld, Germany — Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Selected in
Unsplash Awards 2021

The bald eagle caught mid-flight is a wonderful moment in time captured by Philipp Pilz. The gradient from light to dark creates a nice gradient background, centering the viewers eye on the subject. The rain throughout the image really ties it all together, separating this image from the rest.

Josh Raab
Director of Instagram — National Geographic

Gene Brutty

Toky, LA, Perth — Sony ILCE-7M2
Selected in
Unsplash Awards 2021

A great photo tells a story or makes you curious enough to want to know the story behind the subject. This photo is incredibly cinematic and pulls you right in. In Gene’s photos, there is a pattern of having the light hit at just the right spots, creating an air of mystery and allowing the photo to be simultaneously crowded yet minimal. Love the framing and depth of the photograph.

Samia Liamani
Founder — Good Faces

Tom Chrostek

Cracow, Poland — Canon EOS 80D
Selected in
Street Photography
Unsplash Awards 2021

I love how the photographer juxtaposed this bright, sharp and bold world with a dark, soft and painted one. All together, it works so well, and makes me wonder if this person is about to walk into a painted dimension.

Viviane Labelle
Concept Creator — Nike

Cameron Venti

Los Angeles, CA — Nikon Z6
Selected in
Community Photo of the Year
Unsplash Awards 2021

We asked the community to vote for the most impactful image of 2021. The votes are in — congratulations to Cameron Venti whose long exposure meets astrophotography image is this year’s Photo of the Year.

And that’s a wrap! 🎉

A massive thank you to everyone that took the time to submit to the fifth edition of the Unsplash Awards, and huge congratulations to all of the extremely talented finalists and shortlisted contributors this year.

A special thank you to our incredible Judges (we didn’t envy your insanely difficult task) and to our partners for helping us celebrate the open photography movement.

See you next year 👋

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