The Beauty of Birds + Abandoned Buildings: Photography 2021 Winners

Between active animals and outdoor scenes, nature has a lot to offer for photographers to find and capture. These 2021 Annual winners took advantage of that and won big with their work!

Graphis Master Lennette Newell is a photographer known for exploring various concepts and aesthetics through her stunning wildlife photography. These graceful images from her Platinum-winning entry “Aves” (above) continue this theme, capturing different bird species mid-flight, from predators such as falcons and owls to exotic birds like a toucan and a Spix’s macaw. Working with both falconers and pet owners, Newell was able to take single shots and close-range stills of each bird, offering enhanced and detailed views of their unique feathers, wing spans, beaks, and bodies from different angles. As Newell explains, each of these photographs offers viewers a chance to connect with the birds in their voyage while digesting the color, view, and elegance of the creatures.

We move to a different kind of nature shot with Michael Schoenfeld, who is an advertising photographer based in Utah specializing in people’s portraits as well as lifestyle, healthcare, architecture, and food. Titled “Corona Cafe, Salton Sea” (above), the scenic photograph was taken in Salton Sea Beach, CA, an abandoned coastal desert town that once hosted prominent figures like Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys but is now largely deserted due to bad pollution and toxic fumes rising from the water. In and around Salton, the remnants of the once-thriving tourist location take the form of crumbling structures of abandoned houses, businesses, and restaurants. 

Keen on observation, Schoenfeld documents Salton’s Corona Cafe in a beautiful yet melancholic shot that shows the cafe standing unattended on a desert lot with the infamous Salton sea peaking out on the horizon. Unlike many of the other buildings in the area, the Corona Cafe stands completely intact, with its sunbleached exterior sign and shuddered windows are the only tell-tale signs of its fate. The remains of Salton are a testament to the coastal town’s history, and Schoenfeld’s image of the cafe provides the viewer with some insight into what once was before the environmental crises forced people to leave it all behind.

To see more award-winning entries from our 2021 Photography Annual, click here. You can also enter our 2023 Photography competition by visiting!

Author: Graphis