This mystical giraffe photo wins Nature Photographer of the Year 2020

Dec 14, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

This mystical giraffe photo wins Nature Photographer of the Year 2020

Dec 14, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Nature Photographer of the Year always presents us with some amazing images of the natural world around us. The contest has just announced its 2020 winners, and a mystical, fairytale-like photo of a giraffe won the first prize. Of course, there are plenty more fantastic photos, so read on and take a look at the selection.

The Nature Photographer of the Year competition is an initiative of Nature Talks. This year’s contest received record-breaking 19,547 entries, coming from over 95 countries all over the globe. Photographers sent their images for 12 categories, plus the special category Fred Hazelhoff portfolio award.

The overall winner, as well as the Mammals category winner, is Roberto Marchegiani. He took his stunning image, titled Jurassic Park, in Nakuru National Park, Kenya. The chair of the jury Magdalena Herrera (director of photography for Geo, France) explains why the jury chose this photo to be the overall winner:

“This image has a fairy-tale quality that goes far beyond a wildlife document. The contrast of the dark forest with branches like flashes of lightning and the little giraffe, who seems so innocent, is astonishing. Equally striking is the difference in scale and the relationship between a vibrant, threatening nature and the living element. The result, paradoxically, is a feeling of harmony and peace. We applaud here the poetic approach to this moment that was made possible by the photographer’s patience and respect for his subject.”

Talking about his image, Roberto said that he went on a deliberately organized safari during the rainy season, so that he would have a better chance of finding good light. Just before sunset, he and his friends noticed a group of giraffes passing in front of the forest. With a 600mm lens, he found a magnificent glimpse into the forest that stroke him a lot. Instead of taking pictures of the giraffes passing by, he kept the framing on a specific point in the forest and was hoping the giraffes would pass at that point. The angle was narrow, there was a lot of vegetation in the foreground that could damage the image. Therefore, he used the maximum aperture to blur the vegetation as much as possible. “In the end, I was rewarded by my stubbornness: the giraffes passed exactly in the right place,” Roberto said. “The scene reminded me of a Jurassic landscape, with a herbivorous dinosaur in the same position as the giraffe.”

© Roberto Marchegiani/NPOTY 2020, overall winner and Mammals category winner

Alejandro Prieto from Mexico won the Fred Hazelhoff portfolio award. He created an intriguing photo project about the wall between Mexico and the United States and the impact on wildlife. And if this project seems familiar, it’s because it also brought Alejandro the Fritz Pölking Prize in this year’s European Wildlife Photographer of The Year.

© Alejandro Prieto/NPOTY 2020

Other winners include Jo-Anne McArthur in the category Man and Nature, Samantha Stephens in the category Other Animals, Pål Hermansen in the category Natural Art and Radomir Jakubowksi in the category Plants and Fungi. Hungarian Lili Sztrehárszki won the Youth category (11 – 17 years old) with a shot of a lesser horseshoe bat (the smallest horseshoe bat across Europe).

Take a look at the rest of the category winners below. You’ll find all of them, along with runners up and highly commended photos, on Nature Photographer of the Year’s website.

If you’d like to see more contest photos from other years, click on the links below and enjoy!

© Samantha Stephens, Canada/NPOTY 2020, Other Animals category winner
© Milos Prelevic/NPOTY 2020, Underwater category winner
© Stanislao Basileo/NPOTY 2020 Landscapes category winner
© Adriana Sanz/NPOTY 2020, Animal Portraits category winner
© JoAnne McArthur/NPOTY 2020, Man and Nature category winner
© Radomir Jakubowski/NPOTY 2020, Plants and Fungi category winner
© Henley Spiers/NPOTY 2020, Black and White category winner
© Lili Sztreharszki/NPOTY 2020, Youth category winner
© Andreas Geh/NPOTY 2020, Birds category winner
© Andrea Pozzi/ NPOTY 2020, Nature Art category winner

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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41 responses to “This mystical giraffe photo wins Nature Photographer of the Year 2020”

  1. Bill McKenzie Avatar
    Bill McKenzie

    Some wonderful Photoshop skills here.

  2. Solegleaux Avatar

    The animal portrait winner is my fav

  3. Kim Marchegiani Avatar
    Kim Marchegiani

    Shannon Marchegiani Melia any relative of ours (the photographer, not the giraffe)? Earlene Lefebvre?

    1. Dunja Djudjic Avatar
      Dunja Djudjic

      What’s this animal called? :)

      1. Shane barber Avatar
        Shane barber

        I believe that image is of a jack rabbit they’re quite common in west Texas and New Mexico. They are vary large rabbits, some grow to the size of small dogs and unlike average rabbits they eat meat such as insects and things of that size/nature

        1. Shane barber Avatar
          Shane barber

          Though they still eat vegetables just like any other rabbit as well. I myself have seen one out run and out witt a pack of coyotes

          1. Jasmine Smith Avatar
            Jasmine Smith


  4. Carole Stukes Avatar
    Carole Stukes

    The photograph with the giraffe isn’t lightening, it’s a branch hanging down that looks like lightening. It’s really a beautiful photograph regardless of the misinterpretation.

    1. Lynn Avatar

      They don’t claim it is lightning “with branches like flashes of lightning”

    2. thatguy Avatar

      You misspelled “lightening”. It’s *lightning* there sport. Really nice comment though.

      1. arkhunter Avatar

        They need to be lightening that image, it’s a tad underexposed. LOL

  5. John Smith Avatar
    John Smith

    Looks completely photoshopped as I so common with these contests.
    Not saying it is completely fake, I’m sure most photos are somewhat real to begin with but these things are edited to hell and back and it makes this stuff pretty lame.

    1. Jill Elizabeth Avatar
      Jill Elizabeth

      You need to get your hands on a professional camera. Photoshop becomes moot with a thousand dollar lens….

      1. Phil Davis Avatar
        Phil Davis

        Shopped photo critics are all the same. I think it’s a self worth issue. They seem to be missing the ability to give credit to someone else therefore elevating their own self worth. Grammar and spelling Nazi’s have the same issue.

        1. Trizi Avatar

          Grammar and spelling is a self-worth issue?? No. No. But jumping to demean others certainly is.

          1. Phil Davis Avatar
            Phil Davis

            Obviously you have a ready comprehension problem. Where exactly did I state that grammar is a self worth issue. Care that try again?

          2. Trizi Avatar

            No, no. No problem with my comprehension. .. and here you go again, descending into insults. The true mark of someone who is projecting.

          3. Phil Davis Avatar
            Phil Davis

            I see. I didn’t know I was dealing with a Psych 101 student. Have you paid off those student loans yet or are you just butthurt 24-7? My dear don’t you see the more you push back the more I will pepper you with insults. If your Psychology studies didn’t cover it let me explain. You see the phrase I used was “grammar Nazi” not grammar or not spelling, but a Nazi like individual who has a annoying habit of correcting another person on line, similar to what you are trying to do with me but are failing terribly. Since photos and art are subjective the original poster was telling us all he knows more than the judges, who I assume are experts, and declared this lovely photo a fraud or shopped. He therefore is no better than those pesky “grammar nazies”. Does this help? Well, if not Don’t bother coming back because this exercise is pretty pathetic. You really need to pay attention when reading and understand the different phrasing and not assuming what’s not there.

    2. John Smith Avatar
      John Smith

      What does disliking the “photoshop look” have to do with self worth? I know it’s popular, but I think it’s lame. It’s a obvious look, colors too cartoonish, shadows too black and soft… It’s very instantly recognizable and it doesn’t look real. Not camera real, nor “human eye” real.

  6. John Smith Avatar
    John Smith

    I guess that’s ironic? But I can’t be sure.

  7. cwnco Avatar

    Agreed Jill. I have $30k invested in lenses and $10K for the camera. Photoshop is a moot point. Thanks for saying so. It’s in the eye of the beholder. And we’re trying to share it with the world.

    1. cwnco Avatar

      Not to mention the very expensive LowePro Backpacks to protect them.

    2. Jill Elizabeth Avatar
      Jill Elizabeth

      They get you with lenses. I’ve spent more there than anywhere!

  8. RickK Avatar

    With DIGITAL cameras, EVERYTHING is “photoshopped”!
    Whether you do it in camera, add a filter, or do it in post.

    What about back when, with FILM! And colours and contrast were adjusted during printing? Was that any different? NO.

    Being able to modify digital parameters in post is part of the creativity boost that digital give us. Don’t like exactly what the camera displays as “captured”? No problem, the digital information is in the file image and it can be adjusted.
    I find that all my RAW images don’t really display as I remember them. Our eyes are NOT the same as a camera! So I make small tweaks to the images that I want to keep.

    1. Jill Elizabeth Avatar
      Jill Elizabeth

      Sorry, mea culpa dude. Welcome to the 21st century….

  • Jasmine Smith Avatar
    Jasmine Smith

    Ohh yes ’tis common in these contests…being the expert I am in what is lame and what is un-lame. If you’re a talented photographer with the right equipment and in the place at the right time you don’t need photoshop. There’s a difference in editing photos to enhance colors and other minor details than just pieces together pictures to make a great picture. I’m sure the people that judge these things know the difference.

  • John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty


  • Nat R Avatar
    Nat R

    FYI DIYPhotography you miscredited one of the winning images. The winner of the “Other Animals” category with the stunning image of salamanders in the pitcher plant is Samantha Stephens of Canada. That is her winning image. Please fix this article and attribute that image to the proper photographer!

    1. thatguy Avatar

      Relax. Dang. Simple mistake. No need to bring exclamation points into this

    2. Dunja Djudjic Avatar
      Dunja Djudjic

      Relax. :) Speaking with the folks from the contest, they told me that the article looks okay, but I guess we might have missed something. I’ll reach out to check what went wrong.

      1. Grimula Avatar

        that was a pretty Relaxed message to me …Not sure why you have to say the word Relax ? when his writting seemed relaxed to me
        Quite rude of you when You made the mistake hahahah !!!

      2. Jasmine Smith Avatar
        Jasmine Smith

        Relax. :) They were just trying to let you know the person was not getting credit. I know I would want the credit for something of this magnitude. Relaxxxx

  • aarthi aara Avatar
    aarthi aara

    I love photography I’m join this contest so please give some ideas

  • Millersville Avatar

    For those of us with imperfect vision, a version of the photo with the animal outlined would be appreciated.

    1. cda Avatar

      The giraffe is kneeling (on all fours) in the bottom right.

    2. cda Avatar


    3. Jill Elizabeth Avatar
      Jill Elizabeth

      It took me a few to find that giraffe as well…

  • John Smith Avatar
    John Smith

    Oh I just realized what the second one is. He’s using a projector on the border wall, with a pic of a large cat? There’s actually no animal in the pic.

  • Melissa S Miller Avatar
    Melissa S Miller

    The Wizard in bottom right corner is pretty cool. How can this be considered a photograph?

    1. Kaouthia Avatar

      They’re the limbs and bark of a tree. How can it not be considered a photograph? Anything you see in it is down to you.