DJI’s drone photo award winners show aerial photography is really taking off

An aerial photo of a Chinese museum
(Image credit: Tension Vision / Skypixel)

DJI's compact drones have fast become a unique extra 'lens' in the camera bags of many photographers – and the newly-announced winners of its annual Skypixel awards show just how widespread aerial photography has become.

The stunning winners of the photo and video contest were picked from over 30,000 submissions, which hailed from 124 different countries and regions, offering an incredibly varied gallery that provides a unique view of natural and human subjects, ranging from Tibetan mountains to architectural wonders and cold water swimmers.

The competition isn't just for DJI drones, but given that Skypixel is DJI's equivalent of Instagram for aerial photographers and filmmakers, most of the winning entries did use popular DJI models like the DJI Air 2S and, in the case of the winning photo, the older DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

We've rounded up the winners Skypixel's photography categories here and included both the drone and settings used for inspiration. But if you want to see every entry, including the video winners, you can see them all at the contest's official site.

DJI may be coming under increasing pressure from rivals like Autel and Skydio, but its fans are clearly still enjoying its drones (both new and old) judging by these photos. If you're feeling inspired by a little ring-rusty, check out our guide to setting up your DJI drone.  

Skypixel Aerial Photo & Video contest winners

Grand prize winner

Orchid by Zhu Jianxin (Xinjiang, China)

Taken on DJI Mavic 2 Pro in Xinjiang, China. f/6 at 1/240s, ISO 100. (Image credit: 朱建新 / Skypixel)

This almost abstract photo of the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang, China, shows several cracks appearing in ice after a rare heavy snowfall. The photographer Zhu Jianxin says it "looked like a fresh and elegant orchid", hence the title.

Skypixel judge Karim Iliya said that "here is one of those rare photos of an almost alien landscape that is both abstract and concrete at the same time. This is a fantastic use of a drone to show us a new perspective of Earth's beauty that we don't normally get to see".

Mavic 3 Limited Award

China Animation Museum in the mist by Tension Vision

Shot on DJI Mavic 3 in Zhejiang, China. f/3 at 1/600s, ISO 100. (Image credit: Tension Vision / Skypixel)

This award for owners of the DJI Mavic 3 could have been hamstrung by the fact that DJI's latest drone has only been available for a few months, but that didn't stop a Chinese photographer going by the name of Tension Vision from taking this Blade Runner-esque shot of a building in Zhejiang, China.

The building peaking through the clouds and mist is the China Animation Museum and the photo is presumably either cropped into portrait or makes use of the DJI Mavic 3's panorama function.

First Prize winners

Scream by Никита Духник (Nizhny Novgorod, Russia)

Shot on DJI Mavic Pro. f/2.3 at 1/1000s, ISO 100 (Image credit: Никита Духник / Skypixel)

Perfect chaos by Sara Zanini (location unknown)

Shot in DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Settings unknown. (Image credit: Sarazanini / Skypixel)

Collecting Bang Grass by binhd7 (Vietnam)

Shot on DJI Mavic 2 Pro. f/5.3 at 1/40s, ISO 100 (Image credit: binhd7 / Skypixel)

Shadow basketball II by Ekaterina Polischuk (Ukraine)

Shot on DJI Mavic 2 Pro. f/3 at 1/1000s, ISO 100. (Image credit: Ekaterina Polischuk / Skypixel)

Second prize winners

The source of landscape by Mark's Horizon (Tibet)

Shot on DJI Air 2S. f/3 at 1/2500s, ISO 100 (Image credit: Mark's horizon / Skypixel)

Age of Stone by I don't want to take this name (Qintai Art Museum, China)

Shot on DJI Mavic 2 Pro. f/5.7 at 1/200s, ISO 100. (Image credit: Age of Stone / Skypixel)

Ice and fire by Walker (Shenyang, China)

Shot on DJI Air 2S. f/3 at 1/640s, ISO 100. (Image credit: Walker / Skypixel)

Alien Planet Vacations by Flamboyant Little Strong

Shot on DJI Mavic 2 Pro. f/5.3 at 1/200s, ISO 100. (Image credit: Alien Planet Vacations / Skypixel)

Third prize

Mars by Lou (location unknown)

Shot on the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. f/4 at 1/60s, ISO 100. (Image credit: Lou / Skypixel)

Jin Ruyi lying on the East Lake by Goericgo (Hubei, China)

Shot in DJI Mavic Air 2. f/3 at 1/320s, ISO 100. (Image credit: Goericgo / Skypixel)

Compete for the top by AndyAndy (Shanghai, China)

Shot on DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. f/3.9 at 1/1000s, ISO 100. (Image credit: AndyAndy / Skypixel)

Tillage, by Empty Mountain Bird (Guizhou, China)

Shot on DJI Mavic 2 Pro. f/6.3 at 1/120s, ISO 100. (Image credit: Empty mountain bird / Skypixel)
Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.