It’s a fantastical image: A person is standing on a bench, taking in the majestic view of a neon green aurora borealis in Russia. But from another perspective, it looks like the person could be on another planet — maybe the snow suit is a space suit, and the ground below and the sky above, some alien landscape.
This is one of the winning photos in this year’s 14th iPhone Photography Award, an annual international contest whose winners were announced this week.
The rules are simple. Anyone can submit a photo in one of 18 categories as long as the photos were taken with an iPhone or iPad and not altered by Photoshop beyond iPhone filters or lenses.
The contest’s top photos are a study in contrasts. The Grand Prize went to Hungarian photojournalist Istvan Kerekes. His photo depicts two rugged shepherds standing in a desolate landscape in Romania. Despite the harshness all around them, around their shoulders, they cradle soft lambs. Photographer of the Year award was granted to Sharan Shetty of India, who captures a man sharing a tender moment with his horse in Azerbaijan in an empty and lonely desert.
The selection of prize-winning images below are truly global: from the less-well off countries we focus on in our Goats and Soda coverage to the wealthiest places on Earth. And all these images attest to the ability of a phone to make photographic magic.