Close-Up Photographer of the Year (CUPOTY) is one of those contests I always look forward to. To start off the new year with lots of inspiring images, the competition has shared its winners and runner-ups, and they’re absolutely stunning.
Canadian photographer Samantha Stephens is the overall winner of this year’s contest, and her striking image shows something you don’t see every day: a pair of salamanders being consumed by a carnivorous pitcher plant. As always, there are plenty more of great photos among the category winners, so let’s dive in and check them out.
Samantha took her winning photo in Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada. Other than the overall win, it also brought her first place in the Animals category. And the competition was tough: the fourth annual contest attracted more than 9,000 entries from 54 countries.
“Northern Pitcher Plants normally feast on moths and flies,” Samantha explains, “but researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station recently discovered a surprising new item on the plant’s menu: juvenile Spotted Salamanders.”
“While following researchers on their daily surveys I saw a pitcher with two salamanders floating at the surface of the pitcher’s fluid, both at the same stage of decay. I knew it was a special and fleeting moment. The next day, both salamanders had sunk to the bottom of the pitcher.”
Samantha will be awarded a £2,500 (~US$3,000) cash prize and the Close-Up Photographer of the Year trophy. She also sees her work displayed to a global audience in the Top 100 online gallery on CUPOTY’s website.
Close-Up Photographer of the Year recognizes winners in 11 different categories. Take a look at all of them below, and make sure to visit CUPOTY’s website for more images and more information.