14 striking images that are finalists for the UAE's $120,000 photography prize

These are the winning entries in the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award 2020

A tranquil image of a mother humpback whale and its calf in the waters of the Pacific Ocean has won this year's Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA).

Australian photographer Jasmine Carey, who shot the image in the kingdom of Tonga, will receive a grand prize of $120,000 (Dh440,800) for her submission.

In addition to the top prize, there are also rewards for a range of other categories, including portfolio, general photography in colour and black and white, mobile photography, special awards and the annual theme.

Take a look through the photo gallery above to see 14 winning submissions.

The winners for the annual competition were announced on Sunday, June 7, with photographers from the UAE, Belgium, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Italy, China and Mexico making the cut.

This latest iteration of the competition was themed around water, which the photographers explored in myriad perspectives, including social and environmental. Though photographers were not entirely restricted to this theme within more general categories.

"All the inhabitants of Earth know water, but some fear it," said HIPA's secretary general Ali bin Thalith in a statement.

"We watch today how the creators of the world see water through their lenses. Water, the major issue that concerns us all, and touches our lives and the survival of our planet."

Water, the major issue that concerns us all, touches our lives and the survival of our planet

Carey's winning image, entitled Essence of Life, captures a restful moment between a whale and her calf.

In her artist statement, the photographer wrote: "The rain fell rhythmically in soothing pitter-patter on the water's surface, gently lulling them.

As we floated and watched them, the sound of the rhythm faded just a little and the ocean calmed just enough for the tranquil pair to rise up, meeting the light rays just starting to break through the surface."

What are the other award-winning entries?

Francois Bogaerts' The Downpour won the Water category. It depicts an Icelandic waterfall that resembles a flowing veil as it cascades down a rocky mountain.

'The Downpour' by Francois Bogaerts, winner of the first prize for the themed category.

The Belgian photographer was able to achieve this with a slower shutter speed. "With this image, I wanted to capture the beauty of nature and portray how small and insignificant we are compared to this wild nature," he said.

For his winning entry, Bogaerts will receive $20,000.

Capturing marine life in stark monochrome, Christian Vizl Mac Gregor from Mexico highlights the magnificence of dolphins, whales, seals and swordfish in their natural habitat. Kingdom of Beauty and Danger is the name of his submission, which won the portfolio category.

For his portfolio entry, Christian Vizl Mac Gregor from Mexico has shared a series of photographs on marine life. Christian Vizl Mac Gregor | Mexico

The photographer considers himself a "captive of what [I] can see under the waves".

"Most people only see the creatures as a source of food, but they have voices we can hear and rights we must preserve in the face of danger. Danger of human destruction of this beautiful environment in several ways – overfishing, pollution, plastic, radiation, climate change and so on," he said.

Gregor will receive $24,000 for his winning work.

This year's mobile photography category included stellar submissions from India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The first prize has been awarded to Indian photographer Apratim Pal, who has captured a fisherman navigating his boat above moss-like structures formed under the surface because of the restrictive water flow.

'A Journey Outside Our World' by Apratim Pal. A fisherman makes his way above moss-like structures that cause water pollution in India.  Apratim Pal

The work, titled A Journey Outside Our World, has earned Pal $12,000.

The general photography awards for colour and black and white went to Kuwaiti photographers Fahad Al Enezi and Talal Al Rabah, respectively.

'Snow Mona Lisa' by Fahad Al Enezi from Kuwait. Fahad Al Enezi

Both images showcase wildlife across two geographies: Al Enezi spotted the Arctic fox in Canada, while Al Rabah's caught a polar bear walking on an iceberg in Norway's Svalbard archipelago.

As first-prize winners, both photographers will receive $20,000 each.