Vote now in #BestPhotoOf2020 Round 1! But first get to know the images & the photographers behind them…

The wait is finally over! After over 8 months since its launch and over 33,000 submissions later, this year’s Top 50 best photos in the world have been chosen! But which of them will win the life-changing $25,000 prize?

See the selection of 10 currently currently up for voting in Round 1 now, discover the story behind their submissions and how they would spend their prize money to make your vote count!

Remember: Don’t take your decision lightly, somebody’s life is about to change! The Hero will thank you soon.

Sacred Soul’ by @asimijaz, Pakistan

The Story Behind The Image: “On a road trip I saw this elderly man in a shop; although a stranger to me I thought he would be an interesting subject for some portraits shots so I asked him if I could take his photo. During the shoot, he just stared at me, not at all bothered by my shooting. His attire was so traditional, a pure village guy.

The shop was empty and with no light, however I believe that photographers can transform something ordinary, extraordinary. So I placed my subject at the door of shop to achieve a dark background and used my flashgun for some frontal light. Here I could make the most of both the natural light that was bouncing in from the roadside and the dark background behind him, enhanced with my flash gun to give this shot a dramatic portrait feel.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“I will upgrade my photography equipment and plan a trip to capture the beauty of Europe.”

‘The shadows’ by @caokynhan, Vietnam

The Story Behind The Image: “This shot was taken during the full moon of January, which occurs every year in Hon Ba, Vung Tau for a pilgrimage. From above people’s silhouettes are seen to pour into the sand. Hon Ba is a small island located in the sea and during this period in January the tide is very low in the morning so people can walk out to the Island. They start walking early in the morning and return when the sun starts to rise. People only gather here at this time of year making it a very special place.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“My home country of Vietnam has suffered a lot this year both from the epidemic and natural disasters. Many areas in Vietnam are suffering from storms and floods, so if I were to become the Hero, I would spend 50% of the prize money to help them.”

‘Historia de Venezuela’ by @donaldobarros, Venezuela

The Story Behind The Image: “The subjects of this photo are two soldiers who were part of the Venezuelan government’s containment group in charge of dissipating the 2017 protests against Nicolás Maduro and his administration, and a Nun named Esperanza. In 2017 I tried to document in the best possible way the social chaos that was being experienced in Venezuela. That day there was a lot of repression on behalf of the security forces; it got aggressive with lots of tear gas and pellet bullets inflicted on a lot of people. When the protest died down, these officials remained on the Francisco Fajardo highway. I saw a nun walking towards me who asked for help to get to the highway where these two men were. The people who were there helped the nun Esperanza to reach the military, and as she did so, she told them: “My name is Esperanza, and hope is the very last thing you lose.” It had been a terrible day, but I feel that Sister Esperanza’s words reached the hearts of the military. My intention was to convey hope in a country that is full of problems; a country submerged in a very deep social, political and economic crisis.

Photography has been my means of communication and creation to me, and through art I seek to inspire and motivate, especially Venezuelans who feel hopeless. I’m still in Venezuela trying. Being the best possible citizen. Making art. Communicating. I have hope, as the sister I photographed in 2017 said. Behind that photo is an entire country that continues to suffer today. That continues to surprise me even living inside it. Behind that photo are the injured and people who lost their lives in the midst of protests due to the violence that characterized these events. People looked at Sister Esperanza and the military from afar. They applauded. They screamed. They celebrated. It was a moment of hope and that still amazes me.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“I would use this money to inspire more photographers to keep taking photos and never lose hope of being seen and valued. Winning this award, living in a country like Venezuela, would be a direct light of the universe. Just being in the Top 50 means feeling hope and happiness. I repeat: I would make a great effort to get more people to participate in initiatives and opportunities like these, not only for the award and prize money, but also to be part of the magic of communicating and inspiring, and also being valued.”

‘Harvest sedge’ by @hoacarol, Vietnam

The Story Behind The Image: “This photo was captured one morning in the sedge fiel as farmers harvested the sedge. This is their day job in the Phu Yen province, Vietnam. Sedge grass is used to weave mats. In my hometown, every family has mats often used for sleeping, forming part of the collective Vietnamese culture and being something which I particularly associate with my childhood.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“If I were to win this contest I would take my wife on a trip away, as well as donating part to charity.”

‘Winter Road’ by @imkaphotos, Germany

The Story Behind The Image: “This shot is special to me not only because I captured it on my birthday but because I have wanted to shoot at this location since I was a little child, before drones were very well known and used. It was a particular challenge to get this shot due to the extremely cold weather conditions of Allgäu in January, causing me to almost losing my drone.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“If I were to win the prize I would be ecstatic and would invite all my friends and family for a great dinner. Time with my friends and family is what is most important to me. Then I would buy some more photography equipment and invest in a new course to get my photography to the next level.”

‘Aerial view of geothermal bubbling landscapes’ by @joncleave, UK

The Story Behind The Image: “You’d think it was a painting. But in fact, it’s actually Iceland’s bubbling and colourful, geothermal planes. The natural world is full of colours, and sometimes it’s quite literally an art canvas. What’s most interesting is, without the advancement of new technologies scaling us to new heights, we’d miss out on these mesmerising birds eye views, and accessing these melting pools by foot are virtually impossible. So unexpectedly capturing these fleeting moments and fresh perspectives are hard to come by. They call Iceland the land of fire and ice for good reason. The winter storms and wind-speeds were like no other, yet this picturesque scene shows nothing of the sort – as the grounds below are so hot, snow would never form over these colourful planes. But the filmmakers and photographers capturing these unique scenes understand the complexities to a sun-arctic winter expedition.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“I’ve just founded my own film studios startup and would use it to embark on this incredible, daunting and exhilarating adventure that lies ahead. Thank you for this opportunity in making the final cut.”

Uneven Powers’ by @leo.wies, Germany

The Story Behind The Image: “This shot was taken at Kelingking Beach on Nusa Penida, Indonesia in September 2019. That day I took my scooter to go to Kelingking Beach to watch the sunset. When I got there I was impressed by the height of the cliff from which you can look down on the beach. Even when looking down from high up I felt that the waves on the beach were huge. There was only one person walking close to the shoreline. When I saw this scene I couldn’t help but think in the unequal powers that met face to face in this particular moment. I really wanted to emphasize the feeling of a fragile human, being so close to an uncontrollable powerful part of nature. That is the reason why I named the photo “Uneven Powers”. Many people have asked me if I used my drone to take this photo but in reality I was standing at the edge of the cliff and took the photo with a telephoto lens on my regular camera.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“It would mean the world to me as it would give me the opportunity and financial freedom to really focus on pursuing the dream of becoming a full-time photographer and videographer. It would also take a great weight off my shoulders, which would help me to have a healthier mind and a more fulfilled life in pursuing what I love.”

Maria’s silhouette’ by @paulaaranoa, Argentina

The Story Behind The Image: “This image was taken in August of this year, of my daughter María at my house. It tells the story of a very long confinement for a young woman full of dreams to be fulfilled. Her story is shared with many other young people who from one day to the next a virus obliged them to postpone their desire to fly. But it is also the story of a young woman with character, who knew how to raise her head, put the brakes on a reality that seemed to want to extinguish her, and do quite the opposite – she stood tall, reinvented herself and shone, even though veiled by a curtain. It is a story that was replicated by many, all to whom I give a standing ovation.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“If I were to become the Hero and there ended up being some form of exhibition somewhere, I would love to bring Maria along for the occasion! She is a part of this, she deserves it and would thoroughly enjoy the experience. Getting to know the other side of the ocean is a dream of hers. I also think I should invest in improving my photography equipment, and I would like to be able to invest in some other photography trip.”

‘A man judged out of his time’ by @theliamman, UK

The Story Behind The Image: “This was taken in front of the Sunbeam Theatre (lit facade in the background), the oldest operatic theatre in Hong Kong. As I was scouting out the area, trying to find a good composition, I noticed this figure shuffling across the road. I quickly positioned myself to frame him with the bright city lights in the background as a commentary on how the world is constantly changing. With both the lone stranger and theatre approaching the ends of their respective journeys. It had been raining all day and most of the city’s residents were inside this evening. I thought it was interesting that one of the only people out on the streets was this man. It was still drizzling a little while this shot was taken and I noticed that he valued his umbrella more as a walking stick, than as a rain shield.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“I had been planning to film a passion protect with some anti-poaching rangers that I am in contact with in the Serengeti. The Covid-19 pandemic meant that I had to cancel these plans, so winning this prize would allow me to fulfil that goal when the time is right. I would love to continue using my creative energy to showcase the world, with all its beauty, flaws and secrets.”

‘Suri boy protected by the hands of his tribe’ by @zayyarlin, Myanmar

The Story Behind The Image: “This photo is of a Suri kid protected by the adorned metallic hands of Suri women from the village of Omo Valley, Ethiopia in January 2020. For the last 20 years the traditional lives of the Suri have been in disarray. The arrival of guns has created an increasingly volatile, unregulated situation in a very unstable region. In the past, the role of the chief was to uphold values of restraint and non-violence, and to provide reconciliation between clashing groups and clans. Disputes were resolved by strict rules, debates and rituals – for instance, sacrificing cows, verbal pledges or firing of guns at rocks to signify that bullets must hit the earth and not people. Today those rituals are being rejected in favour of immediate and bloody retribution. The Suri exist at the margins of the Ethiopian state. The government in Addis Ababa regard them as trouble makers. They feel neglected and discriminated against. They say that the government has unfairly targeted them for disarmament, despite the fact that their neighbours continue to attack them. The state has also tried to ban ‘harmful customs’, such as cattle-raiding and lip plates. To maintain the Suri culture and tradition, elders take great care of young kids who are the hope and inheritors of the Suri culture. I have created this photo to convey the message that Suri kids are the future of Suri culture and tradition which should be protected by elders in order to become the heirs of the Suri tribes.

I was in the Suri village to photographing the tribes’ portraits and culture. I asked and explained local guides about my planned shot and villagers actively participated to create this shot. I’m satisfied with their post in this shot even though I didn’t have good communication with them as I don’t understand their language.”

How would you use the $25,000 prize if you were to win?

“If I become the Hero, I would like to go back to Ethiopia to donate the necessities for the Suri tribes.”

A enormous congratulations all of the photographers in this Round and the selection as a whole, you are all winners for making it this far, winning 50 Credits, 50,000 stars and the opportunity of having your image sent to the world’s biggest and most renowned media outlets receiving exposure and recognition like no other contest.

However, only one of them make it to the Top 5 and have the chance to become the Hero who will walk away with our biggest prize to date… $25,000… for one single photo, as announced to the world in the app on Monday 28.12.2020 ending a turbulent year on a real high!

Important: Agora is democratizing the world of photography; we can’t do it without your point of view! We hope you get behind your favorite images from start to finish and encourage everyone you know to do the same by downloading Agora to vote for the images they believe deserve reward.

Together we give recognition to humanity’s talent!

Power to the people.