Behold, the beauty of a fresh perspective.

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated July 11, 2017
Drone flying over field
Credit: valio84sl/Getty Images

Aerial photography that captures the world from a bird’s eye view is having a moment right now. This is in large part because this photography style that was once reserved for professional photographers who could afford a private helicopter ride is now open to amateur shutterbugs, thanks to the invention of personal drones. In celebration of this booming and increasingly accessible art trend, dronestagram, a social network dedicated to aerial photography, recently held its 4th annual international photo contest—and the results are absolutely jaw-dropping. The 12 finalists were selected from 8,000 entries in three categories—nature, people, and urban—but a fourth category called “creativity” was added in response to the many amazing submissions. “The selection process was far from easy, this contest has certainly surfaced the best drone images from around the world,” said Jeff Heimsath, a contest judge and photo editor at National Geographic Traveler. When you’re ready to take an armchair tour around the world, sit back and marvel at these seven stunning images.

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1st Prize Winner, Nature: “Provence, Summer Trim” by Jerome Courtial

If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the lavender fields in Provence, this is as close as you can get without boarding an international flight. “I went to Valensole hoping to get an original picture rather than the classic view with the sunset in the background,” said Jerome Courtial, the photographer who snapped the captivating image. “I knew this was the beginning of the harvest season so I hunted down tractors and waited patiently until some started to harvest in a pattern that would create a pleasing composition from above.”

2nd Prize Winner, Nature: “Infinite Road to Transylvania” by Calin Stan

Calling all fans of Bram Stoker’s classic tale—this photo could have been captured by Dracula himself. “This is the road that goes to Sighisoara, Count Dracula’s birthplace. The legend says that this is how he sees the country, in his nocturnal flights!” says Calin Stan.

1st Prize Winner, Urban: “Concrete Jungle” by Bachir Moukarzel

“This picture was shot at sunset time in Dubai at 6 p.m. trying to capture an area which was a literally a desert 10 years back and now became a concrete jungle with the highest buildings in Dubai,” says Bachir Moukarzel.

2nd Prize Winner, Urban: “Dawn on Mercury Tower” by Alexey Goncharov

If you’re afraid of heights, you may want to look away. In this breathtaking image, Alexey Goncharov catches three window washers at work on the Mercury City Tower in Moscow.

1st Prize Winner, People: “End of Line” by Martin Sanchez

When Martin Sanchez took his drone for a drive down the Jersey coast on a Saturday afternoon in April, the beaches may have been empty, but a blue tennis court proved the perfect canvas for this creative shot.

2nd Prize Winner, People: “Waterlily” by Helios1412

This image from Helios1412 transports us to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, where a woman harvests water lilies beside her boat.

Creativity: “Next Level” by Macareux Productions

Looking for a unique take on a pregnancy announcement? Enlist the help of a drone. The couple in this image channeled their love of old-school video games in this creative baby announcement made by Macareux Productions