Gazing upon the prize-winning images of the Siena International Photo Awards 2019 is something of a roller coaster experience.
For they amaze, shock and melt the heart – and break the heart.
The judges sifted through entries from 187 photographers, hailing from 54 countries, before deciding upon the winning and shortlisted images across 10 categories – 20 of which we present here.
The overall winner is a compelling picture of a boy trying to retrieve his ball behind an armed guard in Liberia, taken by British photographer Jonathan Banks.
He was up against some extremely talented competition, as our selection shows.
Other images that caught the judges’ eyes include a crocodile feeding frenzy in Zambia, President Trump standing in front of a portrait of Hillary Clinton and a leopard seal bursting out of the water in a bid to catch a penguin. Scroll down for a photographic feast for the eyes.
This image by British photographer Jonathan Banks, taken in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, is the overall winner of the 2019 Siena International Photo Awards contest. Called A Boy In The Crowd, it shows a child in a festival crowd guarded by armed soldiers trying to retrieve his ball. Banks, an award-winning professional photographer and British Red Cross volunteer, said: ‘At this particular three-day festival on the outskirts of Monrovia in 2008, the crowd was tens of thousands strong. I started by photographing the soldiers, but then changed to what was more interesting in the crowd. I had been circling this particular soldier, when suddenly out of the crowd leaned this boy reaching for his precious ball, scared of soldiers and their guns. This all happened in the blink of an eye and resulted in this picture, which seems to represent the precariousness of peace, as seen through the eyes of a young child with little understanding of the greater dynamics at play. All he knew was, he wanted his ball back, but also to stay safe’
Surfing monster waves up to 100ft high is one extreme activity in Nazaré in Portugal, another is clipping into a safety harness and walking along a rope fixed between a lighthouse and a rocky outcrop as the Atlantic Ocean rages all around. This stunning image by Australian Aidan Williams shows one daredevil attempting the precarious crossing. It has landed Mr Williams third prize in the Sports in Action category
This exquisitely lit shot by the UK’s William Burrard-Lucas of a black rhino in Tsavo West National Park, Kenya, takes first prize in the Animals in their Environment category
This incredible photo taken in Karawang, Indonesia, has come second in the Beauty of Nature category. It shows a snail seemingly giving a lizard a kiss
This startling confrontation was captured by photographer Liang Wu in Shanghai. The image is shortlisted in the Beauty of Nature category
This amazing image shows a gigantic whale shark beneath a fishing platform in Teluk Cenderawasih National Park, Indonesia. It’s shortlisted in the Animals in their Environment category
This amazing shot, taken by Eduardo del Alamo from his boat in Antarctica, shows a gentoo penguin – the fastest penguin in the water – fleeing for its life from a leopard seal. The image is shortlisted in the Animals in their Environment category
This image of an adorable seal pup has been given an honorable mention in the Animals in their Environment category. It was taken in Lake Baikal, Russia
The jaw-dropping power of the tiger is captured in this stunning image by Shouzhi Wang. It is shortlisted in the Animals in their Environment category
This amusing picture of a polar bear taking up photography in Svalbard, Norway, is shortlisted in the Journeys & Adventures category
First prize in the Beauty of Nature category goes to this drone shot taken in Zambia of around 100 crocodiles devouring a dead hippo in a feeding frenzy. It’s the work of Spanish photographer Ignacio Medem
This mesmerising picture of Mt Seorak in South Korea is shortlisted in the Beauty of Nature category
Kuwaiti Yousef Bohamed has been rewarded with a shortlist placement in the Beauty of Nature category for this shot, taken in Svalbard, Norway
This startling picture of mating pigs, taken in Ashulia, Bangladesh, has been shortlisted in Journeys & Adventures
American photojournalist Matt McClain has won this year’s ‘Best Author’ category with top images recognized in multiple categories, including this heartbreaking one, called Memorial Day. It shows a young boy sitting next to the headstone of his late father on a visit to Arlington National Cemetery
Italian Alessio Paduano has earned the top prize in the Documentary & Photojournalism category for this photo, called Life and Death in the Mediterranean Sea. It captured a harrowing migrant rescue operation off the Libyan coast
This shocking image has been shortlisted in the Documentary & Photojournalism category. It was taken by Theodore Jeptha in an illegal township in Port Elizabeth and caught the harrowing moment in 2018 that a father threw his baby daughter off the roof of a shack. Fortunately, she was caught by a policeman and did not suffer any injuries. The father, who was charged with attempted murder, claimed his actions were in protest at his home being demolished
This image, taken in 2017, has been shortlisted in the Documentary & Photojournalism category. It was taken when President Trump surprised a White House tour group with an appearance in front of an official portrait of Hillary Clinton
This incredible image, shortlisted in the Documentary & Photojournalism category, was taken in the ‘ship graveyard’ in Chittagong, Bangladesh. It shows workers in the process of demolishing a huge container ship. Every year around 200 vessels are taken apart here
This eye-opening picture of a yellow vest protest in Paris has been shortlisted in the Documentary & Photojournalism category