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Announcing the winners of the DJI Drone Photography Award

A photograph by Markel Redondo, one of two winners of the DJI Drone Photography Award. © Markel Redondo.

Two photographers will realise their drone-shot projects under the mentorship of Guardian photographer Graeme Robertson

After a lengthy judging process, led by Guardian photographer Graeme Robertson, Markel Redondo and Tom Hegen have been selected as the winners of the DJI Drone Photography Award. The two photographers will be provided with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone and over the coming months will turn their project proposals into compelling bodies of work. The projects will be exhibited at a major London gallery in March 2018.

The DJI Drone Photography Award called for inventive project ideas that use a drone to elevate the creative possibilities of a project. While Hegen will document the process of salt production in southern France, Redondo will use a drone to capture failed urban housing projects in Spain.

The two winners will be provided with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro, £1,500 project financing and a day-long session of professional video editing. Throughout the process, the photographers will be mentored by Robertson, a licensed drone pilot and Guardian staff photographer. 

Below we reveal the two winners and their proposed projects.

Markel Redondo

© Markel Redondo.

Markel Redondo is a documentary, travel and portrait photographer who splits his time between his two bases in Bilbao and Biarritz. His work focuses on social and environmental issues and has featured in publications including Time Magazine, Le Monde and Der Spiegel. He regularly collaborates with social-facing organisations and charities, namely the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Greenpeace.

Project proposal

Redondo photographed Sand Castles, a series documenting failed urban housing projects in Spain, between 2010 and 2012. As a winner of the DJI Drone Photography Award, Redondo will revisit the scenes featured in his initial series.

“Spain was one of the countries hardest hit by the European economic crisis. Due to a toxic combination of billions of euros worth of bad loans held by Spanish banks, and a real estate bubble that, in 2007, burst in spectacular style, Spain’s economy now faces multiple challenges. Within the monetary strictures of the Eurozone, Spain is struggling to deal with these challenges. An estimated 3.4 million empty houses, built in a dizzying rush by developers to make the most of cheap loans and favourable government regulation, now litter the landscape.

“For this project, I will photograph the same locations, and some new ones, however, I will photograph them from the air. By doing this I’d like to obtain a new perspective on the damaged landscape and see what has become of these projects almost 10 years after their construction.”

© Markel Redondo.

© Markel Redondo.

Judge’s comment: “I was interested straight away by Markel’s Sand Castle project. I started to think how he could shoot this project and how it could look. The images could look lonely and eerie with big developments left unfinished and taking over the landscape. Housing is also very much in people’s minds, it’s a problem that we all want to look at and have opinions on.”

Tom Hegen

A photograph by Tom Hegen. The photographs featured here and below are part of Hegen’s Masters thesis HABITAT and show open-pit mining in Germany. The photographs where shot with his self-built multicopter. © Tom Hegen.

Based in Germany, Tom Hegen studied Photography, Image Design and Communication Design in both Germany and the UK. Now working as a full time photographer, Hegen is eager to explore the potential of aerial photography. 

Hegen’s Master’s thesis examined “the rising possibilities of aerial photography by multicopters.” He uses aerial photography “to tell stories about how humans interact with their habitat” and through “abstraction and aestheticisation” seeks to challenge the viewer’s visual preconceptions while simultaneously engaging them in socio-important topics.

Project proposal

“I am interested in how humans occur as designers to shape the way landscapes look. My proposed project will focus on places that from an everyday perspective are not particularly appealing. I will photograph the results of industrial activities that exist to meet our daily needs and, for this project, document the process of salt production. Humans have been casually using salt for such a long time that we no longer know how it is produced.”

© Tom Hegen.

© Tom Hegen.

© Tom Hegen.

Judge’s comment: “Tom’s salt production project caught my attention as I could see the images in my mind. It has the potential to look amazing and very abstract. I would love to see the shapes and contrast of images from the air. Shot at different times of the day it could look stunning.”

The DJI Drone Photography Award is a DJI competition supported by British Journal of Photography. DJI is the world’s leading manufacturer in high-end drones. Please click here for more information on sponsored content funding at British Journal of Photography.