“All living beings are on Earth for a reason, from the tiniest insects to the greatest mammals.” That’s what Agora, a free photography app, said they aimed to show with their photography contest, #Animals2020.
The company challenged photographers around the world to submit their snaps of intriguing creatures, from birds to fish to majestic mammals. They received a whopping 13,888 submissions, which they then let their app’s users vote on. Agora selected the 50 contestants with the most engagement and awarded their top winner a $1,000 cash prize. But let me tell you, I think pretty much all the honorees are winners. There’s photos of small insects and tall giraffes, a smiling chimpanzee and a stoic turkey. It was hard to choose, but here are some of my favorites.
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This photo, simply titled “Iguana,” was the winner of #Animals2020. Taken in Jakarta, Indonesia, it shows an iguana stopping to smell the sunflowers in a field.
“The iguana conveys the beauty and uniqueness of nature,” the photographer Jjin Matt said in a statement.
Funnily enough, though this image is certainly unique—I’ve never seen anything like it!—it actually feels weirdly relatable to me. I know I don’t have bright teal scales or haunting, lemon-yellow eyes. But who among us has not seen a sunflowers and wanted to stick our noses right into one and wrap our arms around another? This iguana is all of us.
Another Indonesian photographer, Prabu Dennaga, took this photo of a baby monkey in Kedoya Utara, Indonesia. It’s been living rent-free in my head because babies don’t pay rent and even if they did, I could never ask anything of this little guy at all. I think I am in love with him. I am looking at cribs on Etsy and planning lullabies to sing him.
With its moody, dark background and sullen vibe, this photograph of a farmer named Silviana and her black turkey looks like a Caravaggio painting. It was taken by Jorge Bacelar in Murtosa, Portugal, and it’s a taste of a long history.
“Spanish discoverers returned from their first forays into Central America. During their discoveries, they found that the Aztecs had 2 kinds of pets: the black turkey and the dog,” Bacelar said. “The Spaniards were amazed by this giant bird. In Europe, 500 years ago, you couldn’t find a bird that size. Even before bringing back the gold, they brought the birds back home in the boats; it turned out that the dominant montane agro-ecosystem in the Iberian peninsula provided exactly what turkeys needed. From Spain, they passed very easily and quickly to Portugal where the tradition was kept alive until today, more than 500 years later.”
In addition to the amazing history and lighting, what really does it for me in this photo is the textures—the turkey’s gnarled skin and downy feathers, the farmer’s wrinkled hands and fluffy, curly hair. Also, look how intimidatingly they’re both staring.
“Mosca Descansando en un Cactus”
The photo’s name translates to “Fly Resting on a Cactus,” and it shows just that. It was taken by artist Eva Ropero Villalon in the Malaga area of Andalucía, Spain. Ropero Villalon captured it in the beautiful Parque de La Paloma, where she went walking with her two year old son to “escape this whole pandemic situation for a brief moment.” Relatable.
“Suddenly, I saw that my son was looking at something with insistence,” she said. “He likes insects a lot, so I got closer and saw this blowfly resting on a small cactus flower. I was carried away by the emotion of my son. In this photo, I realized that the small details are what really matter.”
I couldn’t agree more. The sheen of the blowfly’s wings, how its spiky antennae match the spikes of the cactus? Nice find, two-year-old kid.
If livestock were skater boys, they’d probably look like this. This image of a herd of highland cows, taken by English photographer Cameron Aird, is dreamy as hell. Look at these guys’ luscious, face-framing locks. Do they not look like the dudes you would have crushed on in 10th grade? I’m ready for these cows to offer me a cigarette in exchange for copying my Spanish homework or something.
“I think the moral of this shot is no matter how unusual you or something may look, you are bound to stand out from the rest of the crowd,” Aird said in a statement. “Embrace that and don’t let anybody tell you any different.”
Yeah, until you get detention for flirting in class.
This little Arctic fox thinks it’s ferocious, so no one break the news that it looks more like a beanie baby than a predator, OK? Spanish photographer Eric Panades took this unforgettable shot of it on a trip to Iceland.
“I went looking for this little one for days, when suddenly through the glass of the car and I saw it perched on a slope,” he said. “I ran and lay a meter [3.2 feet] from it while I was eating, that’s how I managed to catch this magnificent moment.”
Apart from the beautiful creature the photo showcases, check out the lush textures of the grass around him. The blurred field in the background almost looks like a watercolor. 10/10, if you ask me.
This may be my favorite of all the contests’ finalists. I feel like this chimp is about to start talking to me. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another animal look so human before. The #Animals2020 contest wasn’t just about capturing animals in the wild. The shot was captured by Morrocan photographer Mohemed Tazi in the Seville Zoo in Spain.
“This chimp was enjoying breakfast when suddenly, he stopped eating and looked at me like a model who was posing for a shooting session,” Tazi said in a statement.
“Give It to Me”
Please, look at this monkey! It’s a rhesus macaque, which are common in Jaipur, India where photographer Ashish Kumawant captured this picture. I’m not sure what Kumawant and the monkey were fighting over—a fruit? a ball?—but I’m glad they did so that we could all see it.