Gazing upon the prize-winning images of the Siena International Photo Awards 2019 is something of a roller coaster experience.
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.
Scroll down for a photographic feast for the eyes.
(Click on the image for a full-screen resolution)
One of the charities that I support is International Alert, a peace-building organisation that works with people directly affected by conflict to build lasting peace. I was asked to document their work in Liberia, where they had been working since 1993. Liberia, and the Mano River Region in West Africa more broadly, had experienced civil war for many years, and International Alert supported various programmes to build stability and long-term peace. These included community radio stations, dialogues between local leaders, initiatives to promote greater security and a political voice for women, and festivals to celebrate peaceful co-existence and mutual respect between the different cultures of the region. At this particular three-day festival on the outskirts of Monrovia in 2008, the crowd was tens of thousands strong. I was interested in photographing the people attending and the West African peacekeeping troops who were keeping order, as well as the performances themselves. 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 I sensed something happening behind. Suddenly out of the crowd leaned this boy reaching for his precious ball. This was a child who had grown up in war, and had good reason to be scared of soldiers and their guns. He wanted to get his ball back, but his eyes were fixed on the soldier. 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. Photograph: Jonathan Banks/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
An interesting image where it seems that the two insects are challenging each other in an imminent duel as if threatening and intimidating their opponent. Photograph: Liang Wu/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
It was March and I was on the frozen surface of Lake Baikal, Siberia, when I took this shot of a young Lake Baikal seal, endemic to the place, in this curiously friendly pose. Photograph: Sergey Anisimov/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
A lizard and a snail photographed in a special moment when they seem to be kissing with affection. Photograph: Andi Abdul Halil/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
While photographing a big male Polar Bear in Svalbard, he suddenly turned around and started walking towards us. I jumped on my snowmobile and left my gear. The bear reached the camera and looked through it for a few seconds before walking away. Clearly, he was only curious. Photograph: Roie Galitz/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
Black rhinos are predominately active at night, so I wanted to capture them in their nocturnal environment. This is a single exposure taken with a camera trap on a moonless night. I used a long, 25-second exposure time to expose the stars. At the start of the exposure, two flashes exposed the foreground. Since there was no moonlight, there was no ghosting effect after the initial flash. I opted for side lighting to highlight the sides of the rhino’s horn and make it stand out from the night sky. Rhinos were almost wiped out by poaching but thanks to concerted conservation efforts in the park, their numbers are gradually recovering. Photograph: William Burrard-Lucas/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
An interesting picture-portrait of a pygmy frog (Oophaga Pumilio), native to the rainforests of Costa Rica. Photograph: Liang Wu/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
The Russian surfer Andrey Karr, famous for having sailed in Nazaré the highest wave ever, is balancing on a 2,5 cm wide piece of webbing while behind him enormous waves reaching sizes of more than 30 meters smash on a rock. Photograph: Aidan Williams/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
A tiger tackles a bird in the snow. Photograph: Shouzhi Wang/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
Seven-year-old Christian Jacobs sits against the headstone of his father, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher James Jacobs, as he visits in observance of Memorial Day on May 28th, 2018, at Arlington National Cemetery. Christopher died during a training exercise in 2011. Photograph: Matt McClain/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
Tulakarne is a 16-year-old young man and member of the Suri tribe from a mountain village in Ethiopia, located on the border with Sudan.
He has prepared himself for “stick fighting,” an ancestral ceremony consisting of an unprotected one-on-one stick battle against young members of neighbouring tribes. The fight, which can be furious and can also result in death, represents a ritual passage from youth to manhood. Photograph: Alberto del Hoyo Mora/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
The Alarcon family is one of the last families that still work as nomadic shepherds in Europe. The phenomenon of transhumance has survived for centuries: families of shepherds migrate on foot through the territory with their animals in search of better pastures, climate and living conditions. In Spain, around 150 families survive as nomad shepherds. Twice a year, Antonio, Maria and their two sons walk almost 200 km for 8 days to transfer their hundreds of sheep from Fatima (Granada) to Las Navas de San Juan (Jaen). During the journey, enduring hard living conditions, they camp in forests on mountain slopes along the ancient Spanish paths known as “Canadas Reales.” Photograph: Susana Giran/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
Members of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms rescue Josepha, an African migrant from Cameroon, while the body of a woman lies on a piece of driftwood about 85 miles off the Libyan coast. Photograph: Alessio Paduano/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
In less than three days, more than one hundred crocodiles manage to transform a dead hippo into fertilizer for the river. Photograph: Ignacio Medem/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
The Northern Lights are visible in José David Riquelme Peñalver's stunning photo of a peak in Iceland. Photograph: José David Riquelme Peñalver/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
The vibrant combination of the colours of the doors in this office complex in Tokyo makes this building very distinctive and attractive. Photograph: Elizabeth Jenny Taner/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
A camel herder rides through the sand dunes in central Asia. Photograph: Benli Bai/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
Photograph: Marco Zaffignani/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
Photograph: Sonalini Khetrapal/SIPAContest Photo of the Year
Photograph: SIPAContest Photo of the Year