The winners of the 5th Patagonia Photo Contest

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Patagonia Photographer of the Year and First place, Outdoor Sports category: “Freedom” by Miguel Fuentealba (Location: Monte Tenerife, Región de Magallanes, Chile)


Miguel Fuentealba, with his photo titled “Freedom,” something that so many of us yearn for during the present pandemic, has been crowned Patagonia Photographer of the Year by the judges in the 5th Patagonia Photo Contest.

Miguel’s photograph, which shows a man trekking on the snowy summit of Mount Tenerife, one of the most emblematic mountains of the Magallanes region in southern Chilean Patagonia, an almost perfect conical mountain 1650 meters high, rose to the top of the many spectacular images submitted to the contest by professional and amateur photographers from around the world.

For Miguel, the name of his photograph also refers to "what it feels like to live without being in a hurry or acting according to a plan." A self-taught photographer originally from Chile's Araucanía region, twenty years ago he moved to the Magallanes region in southern Chilean Patagonia and currently is based in the town of Puerto Natales, where he is co-founder of Iso100 Outdoor, a local tour operator. 

During the online award ceremony last night (a recording is available for viewing via our Facebook and YouTube pages), Miguel gave us the back story for his stunning photo. "I went as a driver (to Mount Tenerife) on an excursion, and the guide asked me if I wanted to go up with them. There was a lot of snow, I had zero preparation and zero gear, but I was content because I felt free, there was no rush because we were only three people. The idea was to get as far as we could." As they climbed higher and the clouds dispersed the majestic massif of Torres del Paine came into view, a real rarity, and he says that he felt almost an obligation to reach the summit to contemplate the special moment. "There were no footsteps, just fresh snow, and I began to think that nobody had ever been here." He added that the technical difficulties in achieving this photograph far exceeded what he had prepared for and he almost did not participate in the contest, but when he heard about the prize on offer he could not resist. 

Claudio Vidal, a member of the panel of judges and co-founder of Far South Expeditions, the tour operator that is providing the grand prize for this year's contest, a 6-day nature and wildlife trip in Tierra del Fuego, noted at the award ceremony that "among all of the images that were received, among all the images that we had the privilege of observing as a judge, this photo in particular reminded me of the book by Alberto María de Agostini, Patagonian Andes. This image depicts freedom, an explorer in Patagonia, and represents an unknown horizon. The image shows a totally privileged vision. How many people have been lucky enough to reach the summit of Mount Tenerife and see the Paine massif in the distance?"

"I feel like I fulfilled the purpose of a photograph, that the photographer disappears. It is a photograph that invites you to witness Torres del Paine and feel the immensity of this place. It invites you to climb a mountain, and have different perspectives and feelings, to feel like an explorer. Feel the first contact with freedom," Miguel said. 

Miguel's photo also won first place in the Outdoor Sports category. In the other categories, Nicolas Lagos came away with the win in the Nature category with his black-and-white photo of a puma titled “Pause.” Jorge Diehl of Brazil won the Climate Change category with his photo of the burning Amazon, aptly titled "Nature is asking us for help."  And Russian photographer Lena Bam won the Travel & Culture category with her stunning sunrise photo of horses in Torres del Paine.

Each first place winner in the four categories will receive a gift card for use in the Patagonia stores in Chile, valued at 200,000 chilean pesos; a set of large exhibit-format photography books from Tompkins Conservation; and a complete collection of all the magazines published by Patagon Journal since 2011. The winners of second place in each category will receive high quality sunglasses made sustainably by Karun from recycled plastics recovered from the ocean. 

Patagon Journal is so appreciative of everyone who participated, many thanks to all of you, and we look forward to the next contest!

Here are the rest of the winning photos:


First place, Travel & Culture category: “Simple moments living in the countryside” by Lena Bam (Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)


First place, Climate Change category: “Nature is asking us for help” by Jorge Diehl (Location: Brasilia, Brasil)


First place, Nature category: “Pause” by Nicolás Lagos (Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)



Second place, Outdoor Sports category: “Star portal” by Rodrigo Terren (Location: Piedra Parada, Chubut, Argentina)


Second place, Travel & Culture category: “A gaucho takes a smoke break” by Rex Bryngelson (Location: Estancia Cerro Guido, Torres del Paine, Chile)


Second place, Climate Change category: “The world is in our hands” by Gustavo Calfín (Location: Los Alerces National Park, Argentina)


Second place, Nature category: “Monsoon” by Blake DeBock (Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)


Honorable mention, Nature category: “Peale's dolpins” by Pedro Bonacic (Canal White, Puerto Natales, Chile)


Honorable mention, Nature category: "Glowing Patagonia" by Dean Heliotis (Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina)



Honorable mention, Climate Change category: "Leaving" by Eduardo Minte (Volcán Michimahuida, Chile) 


Reader's Choice Award: "The blue is going away" by Ivan Berrios (Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)