These images are basically like downloading a National Geographic magazine straight to your brain.
Every year, the Siena International Photo Awards brings together some of the world’s most amazing photographers. Their mission? Use the power of the photograph to encourage a greater understanding of the world’s places, populations, and people.
2017 saw thousands upon thousands of entries from photographers all around the world, and in October, the judges announced their winners. From sleepy bears to quiet treks across the snow, each of these images captures something astounding, magical, true, or important about the world.
Check out 10 of the winning shots below.
1. Overall Photo of the Year: «Sand Hill Cranes» by Randy Olson
National Geographic photographer Randy Olson captured this shot during a storm. 30-second exposures let him capture both moment of a lightning strike and the ghostly image of birds in flight. The United States used to have plenty of braided streams and habitats for these birds. Today, they’re running out of places to go. Photo by Randy Olson/Siena International Photo Awards.
2. First place, Journeys and Adventures: «At World’s End» by Alessandra Meniconzi
Photographer Alessandra Meniconzi photographed this young girl in Siberia out collecting firewood. While Russia is one of the world’s most powerful nations, many of its inhabitants still follow a fairly traditional way of life. Photo by Alessandra Meniconzi/Siena International Photo Awards.
3. First place, Animals in Their Environment: «Attack» by Sergey Gorshkov
An arctic fox and a male goose spar on Wrangel Island, a Russian nature reserve just across from Alaska. With little food to go around, arctic foxes like this one must take risks if they are to stay alive. Photo by Sergey Gorshkov/Siena International Photo Awards.
4. First place, General Color: «Protestor’s Eyes» by Jonathan Bachman
In July 2016, photographer Jonathan Bachman captured this striking image of a man being detained while protesting the death of Alton Sterling. That month, Sterling had been killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — just one in a long string of black men who died unfairly at the hands of law enforcement. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Siena International Photo Awards.
5. First place, The Beauty of the Nature: «Beast» by James Smart
The American Plains are often home to some intense weather, but it sometimes takes a picture like this to make you realize just how powerful, beautiful, and awe-inspiring the weather can be. Photographer James Smart captured this picture of a storm in Black Hawk, South Dakota. Photo by James Smart/Siena International Photo Awards.
6. First place, Fragile Ice: «Dreaming on Sea Ice» by Roie Galitz
This year’s special category was all about ice. Roie Galitz snapped this picture of a sleeping polar bear on the island of Svalbard. Polars bears are right at home, living and hunting (and napping) on the floating ice that surrounds the North Pole. But the ice has been steadily disappearing thanks to climate change, leaving the fate of bears like this one in limbo. Photo by Roie Galitz/Siena International Photo Awards.
7. First place, Sports in Action: «Great Britain Team» by Tim Clayton
Olympic cyclists are jarringly fast, so capturing a clear picture of them takes some skill. Tim Clayton snapped this photo of the Great Britain team back at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They went on to win the gold. Photo by Tim Clayton/Siena International Photo Awards.
8. First place, Fascinating Faces and Characters: «I’m Here» by Joao Taborda
Draped in the flag of Portugal and sporting some incredible reflective glasses, this young girl’s exuberance shines like a beacon during this Portuguese youth festival. Photo by Joao Taborda/Siena International Photo Awards.
9. First place, General Monochrome: «Crow of Lviv» by Jack Savage
The beautiful city of Lviv, Ukraine, inspired photographer Jack Savage to create this piece. A quick run through Adobe Photoshop helped turn this portrait of a crow into a shot straight out of a noir film. Photo by Jack Savage/Siena International Photo Awards.
10. First place, Architecture and Urban Spaces: «Book Temple III» by Hans-Martin Doelz
Though often shown up by fire, the wheel, and instant shrimp-flavor ramen, the written word is inarguably one of mankind’s greatest inventions. Hans-Martin Doelz’s photograph of the inside of the Stuttgart City Library captures the grace and reverence owed to such an important invention. Photo by Hans-Martin Doelz/Siena Internationl Photo Awards.