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2021 iPhone Photography Awards: Take a look at these stunning winning photos

With an iPhone 7 in hand, the winner of the 2021 iPhone Photography Award took this beautiful picture, reminding us you don't always need the latest Apple device or iPhone 13 to take quality photos.

iphone photography awards 2021 winner istvan kerekes

Istvan Kerekes of Hungary took this photo, titled Transylvanian Shepherds, using an iPhone 7. Kerekes won the Grand Prize and the Photographer of the Year Award at the 2021 iPhone Photography Awards.

Istvan Kerekes/IPP Awards

With the rumored iPhone 13 just around the corner and iOS 15 now available as a public beta, there's a lot to look forward to in terms of the iPhone from Apple. But every year for the past 14 years, the iPhone Photography Awards takes a moment to look back and announces the winners of its contest. This year's awards recognize the outstanding photographs taken over one of the most soul-shaking years collectively witnessed by humanity.

Winning photos share expressions of grief, isolation, hope and beauty. Out of the thousands of photographs that were taken with an iPhone and submitted, the Grand Prize Winner and recipient of the Photographer of the Year Award goes to the Hungarian photojournalist Istvan Kerekes. His photo, Transylvanian Shepherds, was taken on an iPhone 7 and shows a contrast of a cold barren land populated with two world-weary men, both holding lambs. And those lambs look pretty content.

The iPhone Photography Awards started in 2007 to celebrate the creativity of iPhone photographers. Thousands of images from more than 140 countries were submitted and winners were selected by jury.

At CNET, we focus on the technical aspects of phone cameras. We want to understand what phone cameras can and can't do and whether a phone lives up to its marketing hype. These photographs, many of which aren't taken with the latest iPhone 12 Pro Max or even an iPhone 11, are reminders that it's the photographer that creates the photo.

Read more: The best camera phone for 2021

iphone photography awards 2021 winners

Other winners include Sharan Shetty of India, who won the First Place Photographer of the Year Award for this photo, titled Bonding. The black and white photo depicts a man and his horse comforting each other in the middle of an empty landscape.

Sharan Shetty/IPP Awards
iphone photography awards 2021 winners

Dan Liu of China won the Second Place prize for this untitled image taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max. It shows an astronaut crossing a Mars-like desert.

Dan Liu/IPP Awards
iphone photography awards 2021 winners

The Third Place Photographer of the Year Award went to Jeff Rayner of the US for this photo, Side-Walking on Air. The black and white photo, taken with an iPhone X, shows a young girl seemingly weightless in her own spotlight.

Jeff Rayner/IPPAWARDS

The top three winners in an additional 17 categories were awarded to photographers from Australia, Germany, Bangladesh, Greece, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Sweden, among other countries. You can view all of the images from the 2021 winning photographers on the iPhone Photography Awards website.