Seeing the world through a different lens or a new perspective is how photographers create difference and gain attention for their images. Perhaps this is why aerial photography has taken off in such a big way around the world and especially in Australia. The landscape looks so different from the air so it is great to be able to use a drone to capture aerial images. While there are many different way to get an aerial image, the drone gives us the ability to quickly cover a vast area of land that might otherwise be inaccessible or involved days of hiking to reach.
There are so many compositional choices when we use a drone. We can tilt the drone and look at it from different angles and create completely different images. We can take the drone to different elevations and decide which elements we want to include or exclude from our image. This type of control is impossible when taking traditional landscape images. Having the ability to shoot either oblique images or top down images is also a wonderful original artistic choice. By choosing the right time of day, we can be creative with how we incorporate shadows.
Learning how to include narrative in your image when looking down on the world can be a challenging skill when composing images this way. Humans have always had a propensity to see animals and faces in the sky, the clouds or the moon and we call this phenomena pareidolia. If we want our viewers to resonate with our aerial images there must be something that triggers an emotional response in them. But besides the desire to look for meaning, the elements of shape, form, texture and colour are other compositional elements that contribute towards engagement with an abstract aerial.
But not all photographers are embracing aerial images, so it is wonderful to have a competition like the Sienna Drone Awards, which is recognised worldwide as a standout for this genre. I also love that they you can submit either single images or a series of images as well as video in this competition. The Single category includes: Wedding, Urban, Sport, Nature, Animals, People and Abstract. You can enter between 5-9 images in the series category.
With this in mind, I selected 9 images for entry in the SERIES category in the 2022 Sienna Drone Awards. It is a significant competition on the calendars of international aerial photographers and of a very high standard. The name can be a little misleading as the competition is open to all aerial photographers and images can be created from fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, balloons, blimps and dirigibles, rockets, kites, and parachutes.
I was excited to discover that the series I entered made the finals and was awarded a Highly Commended, which means it was one of the Top 5 series in this competition. The competition is open to both amateur and professional photographers so you are being compared with the best. All entries are reviewed and pre-screened by the competition editors and an international group of industry professionals. An international jury then selects the final winners. Importantly, unlike some competitions, there is no time limit on when the photograph was taken.
All winning photographers for this award will be exhibited in November in Siena (Italy) alongside Siena Awards Festival. I wish I could be there. Award winners receive press coverage from publications and media outlets around the world so it would be a great opportunity if you were in Europe at the time, to socialise with the art world. This is a competition with global reach and if your image is chosen for a poster or a catalogue (with due credit) it could be viewed around the world. All winning images are automatically included in their annual publication that showcased the full collection of winning images.
While there is a cost to enter this competition, they do allow one free image entry which is a great way to test the waters if you are new to aerial image making. Perhaps you might be inspired to give this competition a go next year.