Pet Portrait Competition Winner: Natural Beauty

With the simple task of photographing your pet, the last round of our Instagram competition was one of the most popular yet. You entered in your thousands, and we saw a huge variety of different animals from every corner of Europe. However, creating an image that stood out from the crowd was no easy task. The judges were looking for images that were technically perfect, beautifully lit, but more importantly that captured some of the animal’s beauty and personality. Our winning image is all of those things.

Captured by photographer Denys Borysov the seemingly simple shot of the one-eyed kitten has a great story behind it.

Denys Borysov one eyed cat looking fierce standing on his hind legs

© Denys Borysov | Sony α290 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 | 1/40s @ f/10, ISO 200

One day, my wife was walking in the park and found a small kitten with a damaged eye,” Denys explains. “The kitten was scared, so she took him home and then to see a vet. It was lucky we found the kitten in time as his eye needed to be urgently removed. After the operation, the kitten came home to stay with us.

With his part in creating the winning image, Tikhon the kitten has now repaid Denys and his wife with love for saving his life. But how did the image come about?

“I was always interested in photographing animals,” he continued, “and the purpose of the photo shoot with my kitten was not to convey ordinary everyday emotions, but a cat in its hunting nature. I set up two flashes and my wife and I took it in turns to play with the cat. The shoot lasted about an hour, several hundred shots were taken, and by the end we were all exhausted. I was worried that after the shoot the cat would be a bit fed up with me, but I was wrong, she still showers us with love.”

Denys then transformed the image into black and white and added a slight sepia tone, explaining, “in my opinion, the monochrome image adds charm and mystery, and it emphasises the character of the cat without being distracted by colour”.

As the winner of the competition, Denys has been awarded a Sony α7 III.

“I was delighted!” he told us, continuing, “it’s still hard for me to believe it, because there were so many incredible entries.”

Denys hopes the camera will help him on the next step of his photographic journey, “I’ve always dreamed of a full frame camera. With the Sony α7 III, I’ll have unlimited creative possibilities. Right now, I want to update a few of my lenses, but long term I’d love to take photos for big companies and brands. I really hope this comes true!”

Make sure you follow on Instagram to keep up to date with the latest competitions and the best images from each competition.

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Runners up

Alex Class took second place with this wonderfully quirky portrait and wins a Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens.

Alex Class classical portrait of a dog against a washed wall backdrop

© Alex Class | Sony α9 + FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA | 1/200s @ f/8.0, ISO 100


And finally, Céline Bissat took third place, winning a Sony RX100 V with this delightful shot of a very happy dog!

Celine Bissat a smiling dog has his portrait taken surrounded by bubbles

© Céline Bissat | Sony α7R IV + 85mm f/1.8 | 1/160s @ f/11.0, ISO 100

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