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Community / Public space

10 of the best city photos from the Urban Photographer of the Year Competition

The finalists of this year’s CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year competition were announced this week, and their subjects are wide ranging, from a woman tending the window display in a mask shop (which won the competition’s top prize) to the packing away of a Hampstead funfair. 

However, our favourites take banal, everyday city activities (sewer maintenace, road painting, commuting) and show them in a new light. Here’s our top ten. 

1. Christmas Tram by Szabolcs Simo, photo taken in Budapest 

So it turns out Budapest has special Christmas trams covered in thousands of fairy lights. This is excellent news. Everyone should have Christmas trams. 

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2. Morning by Cymbie Yan, Pyongyang

This entry was part of the competition’s “hour-by-hour” category, and won the 7am prize. Images from North Korea’s capital are ever-rarer now the city’s been sealed off completely, so feast your eyes. 

3. Dancing in the Street by Carlos da Costa Branco, Lisbon

What’s the point in being a traffic warden if you can’t dance in the face of oncoming cars, asserting your status as king of the street? 

4. Symmetry by Antonio Hernandez Santana, Las Palmas 

It took us an amazingly long time to figure out that the pattern painted by this lone figure is actually a new car park, quite possibly for one of the many hotels on the island capital of Gran Canaria.  Add it to the list of “things that look way more beautiful without cars”. 

5. A Distant Silhouette by Sarah Scarborough, Venice

This photo of a homeless person on a cobbled Venetian street, one of the growing ranks of Italy’s poor, took home the prize in the competition’s youngest (age 13-15) category. 

6. Urban Geometry by Marius Vieth, Dusseldorf

Another finalist from the hour-by-hour category. If you’ve ever wondered what happens in Dusseldorf’s train stations at 4 in the morning, it’s this, apparently. Why use the stairs when the bannister’s right there?

7. Sewage Worker by Sujan Sarkar, Kolkata

Cities wouldn’t be cities without sewers (and the long-suffering workers who tend them). 

8. An Exhibition by Manuel Paz-Castanal, Santiago de Compostela

The opening of a photography exhibition in Spain.

9. Last Train by Chris Johgkind, Tokyo

The last trains leave at midnight from a Tokyo train station.

10. Nappers by Aron Suveg, Beijing

Beijing’s rickshaw drivers often work late into the night, so seek out quiet spots to nap during the day. 


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