39 award-winning photos that show some of the most vibrant colors around the world

  • The reFocus Awards have announced the winners of its 2023 Color Photography Contest.

  • The top six images and 33 other winning shots show vibrant landscapes, nature, fashion, and more.

  • The featured photos were taken by a mix of professional and amateur photographers.

First Place, Non Professional: "Scavengers" by João Coelho

"Scavengers" by João Coelho.
"Scavengers" by João Coelho.João Coelho/reFocus Awards

"It is at the end of the day that the dump resembles a post-apocalyptic scenario," Coelho wrote for reFocus Awards about his winning shot, which shows the orange shade of flames in front of a burned background.

"The atmosphere is heavy, almost palpable, interspersed with the living flames of the fires spewing toxic fumes that mix with the warm evening air," he continued. "It is the time of the scavengers, the last hope at the dump."

First Place, Professional: "Kushti" by Alain Schroeder

"Kushti" by Alain Schroeder.
"Kushti" by Alain Schroeder.Alain Schroeder/reFocus Awards

Schroeder's red photo shows two people resting and checking each other's eyes after training in Kushti, a traditional form of Indian wrestling.

"Living and training together promotes camaraderie, solidarity, and fraternity in this universe where time has stood still," the photographer said about his image.

Second Place, Non-Professional: "Microcrystals of Ascorbic Acid" by Peter Juzak

"Microcrystals of Ascorbic Acid" by Peter Juzak.
"Microcrystals of Ascorbic Acid" by Peter Juzak.Peter Juzak/reFocus Awards

Juzack took this rainbow-colored image — which shows melted ascorbic acid — with a polarizing microscope, as he told the contest.

Second Place, Professional: "Score!" by Sebastian Mader

"Score!" by Sebastian Mader.
"Score!" by Sebastian Mader.Sebastian Mader/reFocus Awards

With this vibrant shot, Mader aimed to pay homage to American culture by "reimagining college life narratives within the context of a big game," as he told reFocus Awards.

Third Place, Non-Professional: "Train Ride" by Nina Tberg

"Train Ride" by Nina Tberg.
"Train Ride" by Nina Tberg.Nina Tberg/reFocus Awards

There are multicolored layers to Tberg's winning photo, from the assortment of travel supplies and dangling legs of travelers to the tan mountain view through the train window.

Third Place, Professional: "Pink Donut" by William Mark Sommer

"Pink Donut' by William Mark Sommer.
"Pink Donut" by William Mark Sommer.William Mark Sommer/reFocus Awards

"Home can be found in many places, from the house you live in to the local donut shop," Sommer wrote for reFocus Awards about his photo.

"I remember as a child being amazed by all the donuts in the case, all the color and sizes, and how my father loved the pink ones. Through this nostalgic memory, I was brought home," he added.


"Dead Goat Polo" by Alain Schroeder

"Dead Goat Polo" by Alain Schroeder.
"Dead Goat Polo" by Alain Schroeder.Alain Schroeder/reFocus Awards

This dark image by Schroeder shows a game of Alaman-Ulak — the national sport of Kyrgyzstan — in which players on horseback must grab an animal carcass from the ground and throw it in a spot determined by a judge.

Schroeder said the game was organized by a wealthy local man to celebrate his son's 13th birthday. The prizes up for grabs included 10 horses, 10 yaks, 10 camels, and a new car.

"No.3" by Alireza Bagheri Sani

"No.3" by Alireza Bagheri Sani.
"No.3" by Alireza Bagheri Sani.Alireza Bagheri Sani/reFocus Awards

Sani told reFocus Awards that his gray image combines "minimalism, surrealism, and street photography."

The yellow door in particular adds dimension, and the man walking up the stairs centers the shot.

"Ad Astra" by Andrea Michelutti

"Ad Astra" by Andrea Michelutti.
"Ad Astra" by Andrea Michelutti.Andrea Michelutti/reFocus Awards

Michelutti told reFocus Awards that he took his winning photo on a cloudy day in Italy.

"I was lucky — the jellyfish was perfectly positioned in front of the sun like a starship going ad astra," he said.

"Textures 01" by Andreja Ravnak

"textures 01" by Andreja Ravnak.
"Textures 01" by Andreja Ravnak.Andreja Ravnak/reFocus Awards

Ravnak's image is full of neutral colors, from the tan shades of the ground to the black trees and purple background.

"Let There be Light...Again!!" by Anindito Mukherjee

"Let There be Light...Again!!" by Anindito Mukherjee.
"Let There be Light...Again!!" by Anindito Mukherjee.Anindito Mukherjee/reFocus Awards

Mukherjee said he took this photo — in which pink and green lights from a store window are reflecting off a boy's face — after "two years of lockdown restrictions to curb the spread" of COVID-19.

"Drying incense" by Azim Khan Ronnie

"Drying incense" by Azim Khan Ronnie.
"Drying incense" by Azim Khan Ronnie.Azim Khan Ronnie/reFocus Awards

"Vietnamese workers sit surrounded by thousands of incense sticks in Quang Phu Cau in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the sticks have been traditionally made for hundreds of years," Ronnie wrote to describe his photo.

"Incense plays an important role in the spiritual lives of Vietnamese people," he added, noting that the pink sticks are usually used in worship activities.

"Glacier's Frozen Heart" by Bellot Audrey

"Glacier's Frozen Heart" by Bellot Audrey.
"Glacier's Frozen Heart" by Bellot Audrey.Bellot Audrey/reFocus Awards

Audrey told reFocus Awards that she aimed to capture "the stark contrast between the small and delicate form of this dog, and the vast and impressive expanse of the natural ice cave" with her winning photo.

The photographer was also keen on showing the blue color of the ice, which creates an "ethereal, almost otherworldly atmosphere that is both captivating and mesmerizing," she said.

"The NOW Building - London" by Christian Redermayer

"The NOW Building - London" by Christian Redermayer.
"The NOW Building - London" by Christian Redermayer.Christian Redermayer/reFocus Awards

The Now Building, located in London, England, looks like a force to be reckoned with in Redermayer's photo.

The building itself is dark while the blue sky around it reflects off the walls.

"Look At Me" by Claire Bunnik

"Look At Me" by Claire Bunnik.
"Look At Me" by Claire Bunnik.Claire Bunnik/reFocus Awards

Bunnik told reFocus Awards that she captured this colorful shot of a peacock on her farm.

The bird's vibrant green feathers and blue body are on full display.

"West 7" by Cody Cobb

"West 7" by Cody Cobb.
"West 7" by Cody Cobb.Cody Cobb/reFocus Awards

Cobb used shadows in his landscape photo to showcase a sandy ground and the contrasting blue sky.

But with one patch of light, you can see the sand's true orange color.

"1974" by Dale May

"1974" by Dale May.
"1974" by Dale May.Dale May/reFocus Awards

"I love to weave narratives through my imagery," May told reFocus Awards about his work.

"For this personal project, I drew inspiration from '70s Americana and captured actress Emily Shephard and my son Damien, both of whom I photographed separately in my studio, then composited with a unique background I created with CGI," he added.

"Parrot Tulips" by Elizabeth Knight

"Parrot Tulips" by Elizabeth Knight.
"Parrot Tulips" by Elizabeth Knight.Elizabeth Knight/reFocus Awards

The rich colors of Knight's portrait make her photograph look more like an oil painting.

There are red and yellow fruits, green flower stems, and a brown wooden table that adds more texture and color to the image.

"Morning's Glory" by Fenqiang Liu

"Morning's Glory" by Fenqiang Liu.
"Morning's Glory" by Fenqiang Liu.Fenqiang Liu/reFocus Awards

Liu told reFocus Awards that he captured this sun-lit photograph — which shows a Great Egret flying between trees and Spanish moss — on a spring morning in Florida.

"The sunlight illuminated its wings from behind, revealing the intricate details of its feathers and creating a stunning effect," he said.

"Above the Polar Bear" by Florian Ledoux

"Above the Polar Bear" by Florian Ledoux.
"Above the Polar Bear" by Florian Ledoux.Florian Ledoux/reFocus Awards

When looking at Ledoux's photo, the contrast between turquoise water and white snow immediately jumps out.

The photographer said he took the photo of a polar bear crossing between the two during the summer in Nunavut, Canada.

"Pipistrello del nettare n1" by Gianni Maitan

"Pipistrello del nettare n1" by Gianni Maitan.
"Pipistrello del nettare n1" by Gianni Maitan.Gianni Maitan/reFocus Awards

Maitan's winning shot focuses more on a lack of color. You can see a bat with brown fur, its pink tongue, and a flower in shades of red, green, and yellow that it seems to be eating.

"Line, Form, Color" by Gleici Rufatto

"Line, Form, Color" by Gleici Rufatto.
"Line, Form, Color" by Gleici Rufatto.Gleici Rufatto/reFocus Awards

Rufatto told reFocus Awards that his photograph "explores the perception of geometric fields of color and painterly abstract forms in everyday places."

There's a blue sky filled with white clouds, a white-brick building, and an orange block in the foreground.

"Contemplation" by Ivan Ferrer

"Contemplation" by Ivan Ferrer.
"Contemplation" by Ivan Ferrer.Ivan Ferrer/reFocus Awards

Ferrer said he photographed the Buddhist monk seen contemplating in his photo while visiting Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Though most of the image is dark, you can clearly see the bright orange and yellow shades of the subject's traditional clothes.

"Sheikh Zayed Mosque" by Judith Kuhn

"Sheikh Zayed Mosque" by Judith Kuhn.
"Sheikh Zayed Mosque" by Judith Kuhn.Judith Kuhn/reFocus Awards

Kuhn said she was able to capture the blue, white, and yellow colors of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi after sunset.

"Symphony of fog" by Judith Kuhn

"symphony of fog" by Judith Kuhn.
"Symphony of fog" by Judith Kuhn.Judith Kuhn/reFocus Awards

Kuhn used a rainy day to her advantage when she shot this Berchtesgadener Land landscape in Bavaria, Germany.

The rolling fog added white lines to the blue landscape, while the dark rocks and trees provided contrast.








"Wedge Wedge" by Kevin Kielty

"Wedge Wedge" by Kevin Kielty.
"Wedge Wedge" by Kevin Kielty.Kevin Kielty/reFocus Awards

There are many bright colors within Kielty's winning shot, which shows a surfer "swallowed by a colorfully-foamy barrel at Newport Beach," as the photographer told reFocus Awards.

"The Wall Frame" by Matt Portch

"The Wall Frame" by Matt Portch.
"The Wall Frame" by Matt Portch.Matt Portch/reFocus Awards

Portch told the contest that he aimed to "unlock a moment of reflective contemplation and instill a melancholic feeling of familiarity" with this photo.

It shows a red-brick wall with a window in the middle, revealing a landscape full of subdued colors.

"Zwischen" by Natasha Pszenicki

"Zwischen" by Natasha Pszenicki.
"Zwischen" by Natasha Pszenicki.Natasha Pszenicki/reFocus Awards

"Jade & Grace are a mixed-race, queer couple having their first child following IVF," Pszenicki said about the figure in her photo, who stands in front of an orange background. "Their journey has not been easy."

She named it "Zwischen" because the German phrase means "movement from one thing or state to another."

"Escaping the Russian Invasion of Ukraine" by Omar Morais Rodrigues Marques

"Escaping the Russian Invasion of Ukraine" by Omar Morais Rodrigues Marques.
"Escaping the Russian Invasion of Ukraine" by Omar Morais Rodrigues Marques.Omar Morais Rodrigues Marques/reFocus Awards

Marques' dark photograph shows a man holding a baby after traveling by bus to a supermarket in Poland.

While the background is almost entirely black, the main subject and the child he carries are bathed in color.

"All Tucked In" by Pat Kennedy-Corlin

"All Tucked In" by Pat Kennedy-Corlin.
"All Tucked In" by Pat Kennedy-Corlin.Pat Kennedy-Corlin/reFocus Awards

This close-up shot taken by Kennedy-Corlin shows the varying shades of pink, red, and orange that can be found on flamingos.

"The palm" by Renate Wasinger.

"the palm" by Renate Wasinger.
"The palm" by Renate Wasinger.Renate Wasinger/reFocus Awards

Wasinger's winning shot is all about contrast. There's a light-blue sky filled with clouds, a stark-white building, and a lone, green palm sticking out from the edge.

"Picnic" by Robin Malátek

"Picnic" by Robin Malátek.
"Picnic" by Robin Malátek.Robin Malátek/reFocus Awards

There are countless colors in Malátek's film shot, from red beer cans and blue bags to a rainbow-colored beach toy on the ground.

"Back to 70s" by Stephane Navailles

"Back to 70s" by Stephane Navailles.
"Back to 70s" by Stephane Navailles.Stephane Navailles/reFocus Awards

Seemingly taken from inside a train station, Navailles' shot captures unique orange lighting and matching chairs.

And that's not to mention the unique brown walls and the gray floor lined with a yellow safety row.

"Children of Mundari, South Sudan" by Svetlin Yosifov.

"Children of Mundari, South Sudan" by Svetlin Yosifov.
"Children of Mundari, South Sudan" by Svetlin Yosifov.Svetlin Yosifov/reFocus Awards

"In the Mundari cattle camps, kids are doing most of the daily work," Yosifov wrote about his photo. "Kids collect the fresh cow dung and put it into piles which are then set on fire."

"Those fires are useful as they repel the extremely numerous and voracious flies and mosquitoes of the South Sudanese countryside," he added.

"Underwater Garden" by Talia Greis

"Underwater Garden" by Talia Greis.
"Underwater Garden" by Talia Greis.Talia Greis/reFocus Awards

Greis was in a Mexican rainforest when she discovered this sinkhole filled with water lilies.

She captured the pink, orange, and red hues of the flowers, their green stems, and the blue of the surrounding water.

"Ready for shoot" by Thomas Freyer

"Ready for shoot" by Thomas Freyer.
"Ready for shoot" by Thomas Freyer.Thomas Freyer/reFocus Awards

Freyer's winning shot is a portrait, showing a model in a yellow dress and matching shoes sitting atop an old, mustard-colored car.

"The Thermal Bath" by Tommaso Rada

"The Thermal Bath" by Tommaso Rada.
"The Thermal Bath" by Tommaso Rada.Tommaso Rada/reFocus Awards

Rada took this landscape photo in the Rupite village of Bulgaria. He photographed the green water of the thermal baths, the surrounding gray pavement, and the brown mountains behind them.

"Milking Bonnets" by Tony M. North

"Milking Bonnets" by Tony M. North.
"Milking Bonnets" by Tony M. North.Tony M. North/reFocus Awards

Not only can you see the blue and tan shades of Milking Bonnet mushrooms in North's photograph, but there's also the white rain and green, grassy background.

"Wonderball" by Yevhen Kostiuk

"Wonderball" by Yevhen Kostiuk.
"Wonderball" by Yevhen Kostiuk.Yevhen Kostiuk/reFocus Awards

The focus of Kostiuk's aerial shot is a colorful basketball court painted in shades of red, blue, and tan.

There are also three people on the court — whose shadows add a deeper blue to the composition —and a classic orange basketball.

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