Behold the year’s best iPhone photographs


This photo of man and eagle was the grand prize winner in the 2016 iPhone Photo Awards.
Photo: Siyuan Niu

The winners of the 2016 iPhone Photography Awards could have made their celebrated photographs with almost any camera. But the iPhone isn’t any camera and our amazement over it hasn’t waned.

And it won’t once you behold the incredible images of this year’s entries.

The iPhone Photography Awards began in 2007 when Apple introduced the first iPhone, which has since evolved into a major disruptor to the photography industry. Users of the iPhone, including some professional photographers, have shunned more conventional cameras for the simplicity and all-in-one shoot/process/publish ecosystem offered by it.

Sales of point-and-shoot cameras have plummeted and just last year, Flickr, a photo-sharing site of more than 112 million members, published evidence of the iPhone’s global popularity when it reported it to be the number one camera used, surpassing industry stalwarts Canon and Nikon.

Thousands of images from 139 countries were submitted and the grand-prize winner Siyuan Niu, of China, used movie references to describe his excitement during an interview with TIME. Niu won for a picture he made with an iPhone 5s of an old man tenderly greeting his trained golden eagle, nose to beak.

“I couldn’t believe I got the prize,” Niu told TIME Lightbox reporter Rachel Lowry. “If I had to describe the feeling, I could only say that it feels like when Andy from The Shawshank Redemption finally reached out of the sewers and hugged freedom; it’s like when Jack won the ticket to the Titanic; or when young Simba was born and lifted by the shaman baboon, Rafiki (Lion King).”

Patryk Kuleta, of Warsaw, Poland, earned First Place with an iPhone 5 photo he called Modern Cathedrals.

First Place overall
Photo: Patryk Kuleta

Robin Robertis, of California, won Second Place with a picture taken on an iPhone 6 of a woman holding an umbrella swaying like the wind-blown Cape Cod grass around her. TIME described her as a painter-turned photograph.

Second place overall
Photo: Robin Robertis

Carolyn Mara Borlenghi, of Florida, won Third Place for a conceptual mother-son portrait on a deserted beach.

Third place overall
Photo: Carolyn Mara Borlenghi

Below are first place winners from the various categories. A gallery of all the honored images can be found here.

First Place, abstract
Photo: Jiayu Ma
First Place, architecture
Photo: Jian Wang
First Place, animals
Photo: Erica Wu
First place, children
Photo: KK
First place, flowers
Photo: Bjorn Lone
First place, food
Photo: Andrew Montgomery
First place, landscape
Photo: Vasco Galhardo Simoes
First place, lifestyle
Photo: Yuki Cheung
First place, nature
Photo: Junking Wang
First place, news event
Photo: Louloud Aki
First place, others
Photo: Kevin Casey
First place, panorama
Photo: Glenn Homann
First place, seasons
Photo: Valencia Tom
First place, still life
Photo: Wen Qi
First place, sunset
Photo: Nicky Ryan
First place, travel
Photo: Fugen Xiao
First place, trees
Photo: Victor Kintanar
First place, portrait
Photo: Elaine Taylor


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