Get a drone’s-eye view with these images from Skypixel’s photo contest

Cameras capture stories, but give a camera wings and you get something like the list of winners from the Skypixel 2017 Photo Story Contest. The 44,000-plus submissions make the contest the largest of its kind in the world, representing aerial photographers from 141 countries. Earlier this week, Skypixel announced French photographer Florian Ledoux took top prize for his overhead shot of a polar bear crossing between ice floes.

Ledoux took the shot in Nunavut, Canada. Calling the image “Above the Polar Bear,” the photographer used a Phantom 4 Pro to capture the bright turquoise waters contrasting with the white of the bear and the ice floes. Ledoux took the image while reporting on wildlife in the area, a project which also included travel to Greenland.

“I have witnessed incredible moments and scenes of the wild but I can guarantee you that this, by far, is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” Ledoux said, “I hope that future generations will still be able to witness the beauty and grandeur of the Arctic wildlife the same way we do today.”

For taking that top title, Ledoux takes home a DJI Inspire 2 along with other prizes from the contest’s sponsors with a value over $15,000. Winners were determined by a group of judges including photographers as well as filmmakers and creative directors.

“There are images that might impress you with their technical mastery, and then there are images that make you feel something,” Jarrad Seng, a SkyPixel judge, said. “This photograph floored me. It’s especially poignant given the climate crisis our world is facing right now.”

Judges also selected first, second and third prizes for each category, including landscape, portrait, and story. Categories were also split into professional and enthusiast groups, along with popular prizes and honorary nominations for the most-liked images.

The contest broke the record set in the previous year for the number of entries. “The SkyPixel Photo Contest of 2017 is now the world’s largest aerial photography contest, breaking the record it created in 2016,” Danny Zheng, vice president of Marketing at DJI, said in a press release. “SkyPixel was initially established to provide a platform for aerial photographers to share their creativity and unique perspectives of the world. Today, it has evolved to a global platform where we are able to document remarkable moments from once inaccessible areas of the world for future generations to witness and appreciate.”

Skypixel is a photo-sharing platform run in conjunction with drone company DJI. After launching in 2014, the platform now has more than 7 million users and hosts several annual photo and video competitions.

The complete gallery of contest winners can be viewed from Skypixel’s website.