GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022

Gesamtsieger | Overall Winner: Thomas Hempelmann (DE) | Der Florist | The florist

Overall Winner: Thomas Hempelmann - The florist

"Outstanding pictures often come unexpected like this one of a male kestrel that could hardly have chosen a more beautiful perch. I was cycling home from a rather unsuccessful photo outing when I spotted a bird of prey perching on a lamp post. I stopped and got my camera out to take a few quick pictures. I was happy enough to have found a photo subject after all, although the pictures were nothing to get excited about. But when the kestrel rose up and then settled between the white blossoms that I had already spotted from the corner of my eye, my heart began to beat faster as I had imagined such a situation many times before. While I was still pondering whether to take off my 2x extender to include more of the tree in the picture, he was already gone again. In the end it was only a few seconds that made my day and I whistled loudly with joy all the way home."

Thomas Hempelmann is 23 years old and studies landscape ecology and conservation in Greifswald in the north of Germany. He has been fascinated by bird life since his childhood and spent most of his time out in nature. It wasn't long before he felt the wish to take photographs of his observations and record them as memories. Over the years he was inspired to an increasingly creative approach of nature photography and now tries to capture the beauty of nature in the most aesthetic way possible. Overall, his focus is on local wildlife demonstrating that areas on our doorstep have a lot to offer.

Category 1: Birds

Category 2: Mammals

Category 3: Other Animals

Category 4: Plants and Fungi

Category 5: Landscapes

Category 6: Nature's Studio

Special Category: Beech - Tree of the Year 2022

In this year's special category Beech - Tree of the Year 2022, which was awarded in cooperation with the NABU Foundation National Natural Heritage, the jury selected ten images: Nature shots that show special photographic perspectives of the ecologically most important tree species in our country. The spectrum of the photos ranges from the small detail of a leaf to an old primeval forest tree.

Together, the GDT and the NABU Foundation National Natural Heritage are focusing attention on the character tree species of our forests with this competition category: The beech and its habitat, near-natural deciduous and mixed forests, are endangered by increasing timber use and climate change. Near-natural forests with old trees, on the other hand, provide habitats for countless small and large animal species, and even deadwood in the forest ensures that the forest is better equipped for climate change and weather extremes.

Prize of the Jury

5. Platz: Hermann Hirsch (DE) | Libellen-Glut | Damselfly embers Prize of the Jury | Hermann Hirsch | Damselfly embers

Thank you!


The GDT would like to sincerely thank the company AC-Foto for their generous and constant support in this competition!

We'd also like to thank Olympus Europe for providing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III for the overall winner of this contest!

Jury 2022

Carsten Ott

Carsten Ott was born in Braunfels and grew up in Wetzlar, Hesse. There, as a child, he gained his first experiences in nature photography with his uncles. Since 2019, the environmental and safety engineer has been living with his family in Darmstadt. Inspired by a nature photographer friend, Carsten took his analogue camera with him on a 6-month stay abroad. He quickly became enthusiastic about photography. In the following years he realised numerous photo projects as well as projects with nature conservation organisations. Carsten is characterised by a different perspective on flora and fauna. The passionate nature photographer has travelled to Asia, South America and Africa, among other places, to photograph a wide variety of animal and plant species. He is particularly fascinated by the landscape and wildlife of South Africa. He has been a full member of the GDT since 2011 and is involved in Regional Group VI Hesse, Palatinate, Saarland. He has won numerous national and international competitions in recent years. With his photos, Carsten wants to inspire enthusiasm for photography itself as well as for nature and unite the idea of nature conservation with photography.

Corinna Leonbacher

Corinna Leonbacher is a cellist at the Hanover State Opera and has found a second great passion alongside music in nature photography. In contrast to music as a form of expression, which is primarily about the truly felt yet fleeting moment, the art of nature photography makes it possible to "produce" something that remains and makes the wonderful moments experienced in nature shareable even in retrospect. In her artistic nature photography, Corinna Leonbacher is not interested in depicting particularly exotic or rare motifs, but rather her pictures are intended to convey emotions, highlight a particular detail or make it possible to visually experience the beauty of nature through abstraction. The vibrant nature in and around Hanover offers Corinna Leonbacher many opportunities for nature photography on her doorstep. In addition, she particularly enjoys taking photographs in the South Tyrolean Alps and for this reason is not only a member of the GDT, but also of "Strix", the association of South Tyrolean nature photographers. Corinna Leonbacher's photos have been successful in competitions such as the GDT Nature Photographer of the Year and Asferico and have been published in magazines and books.

Florian Smit

Portrait Florian Smit

Florian Smit works as a professional nature photographer who lives with his wife Lisa Marie in an old farmhouse near Bremervörde (Germany). Since his early childhood he has felt this pull to spend time in nature. He has travelled all over Europe with his parents in self-built expedition vehicles. The camera joined him a bit later when he was about 8 years old and has remained his travel companion ever since. In 2012, he left secondary school without graduating and began professional training as a photographer. He completed this training in summer 2015 as one of the top three graduates in Germany. Since then he has been a professional freelance photographer – doing his own projects throughout the world, selling fine art prints, running workshops, writing for renowned magazines, giving lectures and presenting audio-visual shows. Together with his wife Lisa Marie, he follows his life's dream of travelling. They have known each other since school and have been living together for almost ten years.