The new shortlist of finalists in Sony’s 2018 World Photography Awards reveals an interesting trend: Across sports, natural landscapes, architecture and conceptual art, many of the best pictures were taken with drones, and all various models of Chinese drone brand DJI.
Drones in photography aren’t new—there are even specialized drone photo competitions—but the technology had an outsized presence in this year’s wide-ranging competition, across pro and amateur photographers. “There was a very significant change in the entries to the Open [single image] competition this year, as so many more were drone images,” head judge Zelda Cheatle tells Quartz. “The same criteria applies to drone photographers as land or sea-based; the content has to have something special—composition, impact, skill, portraying something special or different or informing in a new way.”
The photos below are a visually impressive reminder that while drones still come with a high novelty factor, photographers are quickly adopting them as an essential tool.