Unsplash Awards 2017, Selections

Last month, we kicked off the first Unsplash Awards to celebrate the people in the Unsplash community who openly give their photography, inspiring us all.

We created 13 categories and selected a photo for each. In less than a month, over 50,000 photos were submitted. We were blown away. There were so many awe-inspiring photos it was nearly impossible to select just one photo for each category.

To help narrow down the final selections, we invited 13 judges. Today, we celebrate the photos and photographers representing the 1st Unsplash Awards.

Congratulations to all the selected photographers and to everyone who made time to submit a photo. It was an honor seeing every shot submitted. We were glued to our screens for hours, teleported into another world where only great artistry can take you.

A special thank you to our Judges and Sponsors for helping make selections and for spreading the love. And to our community. We are honored to be building every day for you.

- The Unsplash Team



Selected: Adam Krowitz

Judged by the DJI Team

Photo by Adam Krowitz

Photo by Adam Krowitz

The photographer captured an environment that’s best highlighted from an aerial perspective.
Framing of the shoreline and placement of the horizon line in the upper third of the image brings scale to the landscape while placing focus on the unique land formation in the center of the photo.
Unique capture of contrasting colors between the blown out sky and deep blue ocean. There is also great contrast from the blue ocean, to the tan sandy beach, to the whites in the cliffside, to the green hilltop.
To the extent of what is seen in the photograph, the photographer is adhering to all legal UAV operation procedures.
— DJI Team

Animals & Wildlife

Selected: Jakob Owens

Judged by Miguel Cardona, Lead Designer, imgix

Photo by Jakob Owens

Photo by Jakob Owens

I like the composition. The colors give it an outer-worldly feel: the contrast of the oranges against the cool blue. It tells the story of two worlds—of air and water—and has a familiar animal in an unfamiliar environment that straddles both worlds while appearing worn, yet soothed. A good photo doesn’t give you all the details of a story, but presents a world with some insight and provokes you to ask more questions. I like the close crop, the minimal background, the detail in textures, the capture of the underwater light, and the use of the horizon.
— Miguel Cardona, Lead Designer, imgix


Selected: Jeffrey Hovland

Judged by Chris Messina, Product Designer & Writer, chrismessina.me

Although Hovland’s photo isn’t perfectly technical and doesn’t feature an unblemished sky, of all of the selections — and the majority were outstanding — it evoked the greatest emotional response from me. I was brought into the coolly serene wilderness, the composition anchored with the rugged warm tones and heaviness of the rocky earth, set against a whispy hint of the vastness of space. It’s a photo that suggested motion in the heavens and stillness on earth resulting in a kind of alive calm. It’s an image that I want to wear or keep in my pocket, to pull out in a moment when the disorder and chaos of everyday life is particularly vexing, in order to be reminded that we live on a glorious planet, a mere mote od dust within a strange and wondrous infinite that we barely see, let alone comprehend.
— Chris Messina

Black & White

Selected: Ihor Malytskyi

Judged by Jared Granger, Designer, InVision

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi
“A great photo for me triggers the viewer’s emotional senses through storytelling. While this shot has great technical qualities, this captured moment evokes a sense of mystery—it poses so many questions with unknown answers. The story is up to the viewer to conclude.”
— Jared Granger

Food & Drink

Selected: Monika Grabkowska

Judged by Christen Vidanovic, Social Media and Content Lead, Kodakit

We love the way this image captures the vivid colors of the cabbage, while simultaneously pairing it with, and contrasting it against, the dark background. The circular shape of the bowl helps emphasize the subjects shape, and does not overpower it. The leaves are spread through the image in a clean and balanced way that keeps our eyes looking towards the top of the image - just as leaves grow and move upwards. Overall, a really gorgeous photo that satisfies with it’s simple structure and vibrant colors.
— Christen Vidanovic

Interiors & Architecture

Selected: Efe Kurnaz

Judged by Oliur Rahman, Founder, UltraLinx 

Photo by Efe Kurnaz

Photo by Efe Kurnaz

The colors are what makes this image. It has an incredible cyberpunk look to it, a style I’ve always been a fan of. I can just imagine seeing it in a film like Blade Runner or Total Recall. The angle which it is shot at is great too, it draws you in down the hallway and makes you wonder what you’re going to see round the corner.
— Oliur Rahman

Mobile Photography

Selected: Michael Martinelli

Judged by Kari Clark, Product Manager, Google Live Case

I liked it because it was unexpected. The photo took a classic image of a pier, but combined industrial elements. There is also something very contradictory about the pier being something that is usually so peaceful, but being blocked off by a gate. It makes you think!
— Kari Clark

Nature & Landscapes

Selected: Sam Ferrara

Judged by Brad Haynes, PM, Trips by Lonely Planet

Photo by Sam Ferrara

Photo by Sam Ferrara

I can almost imagine emerging from the cabin of a sailboat – coffee in my hand – to watch the fog lift from the surrounding mountains. The water is so still, the reflection like a painting starting to take shape. The splashes of fall leaves add additional texture that brings the photo to life.
— Brad Haynes

People & Portraits

Selected: Sam Burriss

Judged by David Lee, Chief Creative Officer, Squarespace

Photo by Sam Burriss

Photo by Sam Burriss

Call me a traditionalist, but I’m always taken to black and white photography for portraits. There’s a confidence and comfort to this portrait where you feel the connection between the photographer and the subject.
— David Lee


Selected: Julian Paul

Judged by GoPro Team

Photo by Julian Paul

Photo by Julian Paul

We love how this image really drew us in and gave us the feeling of striving for something greater. The unique perspective with silhouetted fish in the distance is one we have not yet seen and it made us want to dive right in!
— GoPro Team

Street Photography

Selected: Nicola Fioravanti

Judged by Dwight Pirtle, Brand Digital Media Manager - Americas at Airbnb

The use of shadow and light make this a striking shot. It’s interesting in a way that draws you in and invites you to examine all of the elements. Great composition!
— Dwight Pirtle

Tech & Business

Selected: Alex Kotliarskyi

Judged by Niv Dror, Community Manager, Product Hunt & AngelList

In a way, Alex’s photo captures a reflection of modern life: staring at a screen. Our lives, especially in our twenties, feels like a competition. From school, to university, to getting a job and progressing through our careers – it’s a never ending competition. The photo draws your eyes out across the rows of workers, all seemingly identical – but at the same time, showing small hints of color and personality from every worker that highlight and humanizes their unique history and personality. It makes me think of 20 years from now, what technology will be ubiquitous.
— Niv Dror

Unsplash Community

Special recognition within the Unsplash Community

Community Spirit - Jackie Ramirez
To date Jackie has liked over 66k of photos on Unsplash, and acknowledges contributors daily on Twitter with individually crafted messages of thanks.

Slack Community Super-Star - Makayla Sophia
Makayla is a super active and friendly member of our Slack Community,  always welcoming new members and being supportive of others. Makayla is also a writer and working on her first novel, Awaken.

Expert Collector: Susan Hunsinger
Susan has created 153 collections to date, helping inspire others with her cleverly names collections such as Rock Me Gently, It Aint Easy Being Green and Refresh, Revive, Renew.

Remix Legend: Ted Chin
Ted consistently impresses with his creative uses of Unsplash photos, and is a shining example of how Unsplash contributors feed the creative community with their art. Ted was recently featured by Adobe for his work.

Annie Spratt