Into the Wild: Nature Photographer of the Year

Showcasing some of the winning and highly commended entries and incredible talent in this prestigious competition

by Dolores O'Donoghue
Words Dolores O’Donoghue

A photograph of pink-footed geese, Winter migration, by Norwegian photographer Terje Kolaas has won the prestigious Nature Photographer of the Year competition 2021. It was chosen from over 20,000 images submitted from ninety-seven different countries.

Kolaas is privileged to have thousands of pink-footed geese literally in his back garden for several months of the year, and he has been photographing them for more than twenty years. Every spring and autumn, the geese make a stopover in the Trondheim Fjord wetland system as they travel between their wintering grounds of Denmark and the Netherlands and the breeding grounds in Spitsbergen island in the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway.

During the blizzards and heavy snowfalls in late April 2020, Kolaas realised that the photo of his dreams was within reach. Using drone technology, he set about photographing the geese from the air against a pure, clean, snowy landscape. He positioned himself close to a field where he knew the geese fed regularly and waited for them. As soon as he heard the incoming geese, he launched the drone. 

Competition judge Tony Wu explains why this photo of the winter migration was chosen by the jury as the winner: ‘This photograph immediately grabbed our attention, in large part due to the novel perspective it provides – a view of pink-footed geese migration from within the airborne flock. The image is uplifting in mood, aesthetically pleasing, well-composed and unique. Our excitement about this picture was tempered initially by the question of whether a drone may have disturbed the birds. It is clear from the body language of the subjects and the presence of many relaxed geese on the ground that they were not under stress.’

The Nature Photographer of the Year competition is organised by Nature Talks, the organisation behind The Nature Talks Photo Festival, which takes place annually in the Netherlands. All the category winners, runners up and highly commended photos can be found on  

Colourful waterlilies and a silver fish seen from under water
Category: Underwater – Highly Commended
Water lilies’ marvellous world, Gaël Modrak, France

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  • ‘Into the Wild: Nature Photographer of the Year 2021’ is published in Anthology Volume 17. Read more features from this volume or buy it now.
  • Featured image: Category: Birds – Winner and Overall Winner. Winter migration, Terje Kolaas, Norway
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