UltiPhotos 2021 Awards

UltiPhotos chose these as the best photos of 2021.

Since 2008, UltiPhotos has been capturing the iconic, poignant, and exciting images that we use at Ultiworld and that players, fans, and others in the community enjoy. They also give out annual awards for the best photos of the year across a number of categories. UltiPhotos Manager of Operations, Katie Greener, explained how these awards are chosen:

The first steps for UltiPhotos’ Awards are a year-long task for the organization’s leadership: identifying the best highlight photos from each event we cover to nominate to the various award categories. UltiPhotos’ management regularly does this as photographers cover events. Photographers can also nominate their own photos or other photographers’ photos.

The number of categories can vary, especially during years impacted by the pandemic. UltiPhotos selected winners in 27 categories for 2021. The judges are usually senior photographers, as well as some retired photographers. Photographers can’t vote for their own photos. Judges use a weighted voting system to cast their initial votes in every category. After the initial votes, there is a run-off vote for categories where there is no clear winner. If a judge has a photo in a run-off category, they are excluded from voting on that category.

Sponsors are identified throughout the year and provide the awards for the various categories (e.g., gift cards for their online stores or vendor-specific merchandise). Each year, UltiPhotos’ management decides which photo will be used for a special award disc. This year we selected the Atmosphere Photo of the Year. Aria, our sponsor for that category, will print the winning photo on the award discs and we will provide all winners and runners-up a copy.

Below are the winners in each category. We even have included some comments from the judges that made the final selections.

Photographer of the Year: Kevin Leclaire

Photographer of the Year Gallery

The fearless leader was everywhere. He deserves this every year for the quality of his work, but this year he smashed the quantity quotient, too. Well done Leclaire! – Scobel Wiggins

Rookie Photographer of the Year: Isaac Wasserman

Rookie Photographer of the Year Gallery

Isaac’s first year with UltiPhotos was a great one — he immediately meshed with the team, delivering great professional photos from four of the highest level USA Ultimate Championships. His workflow is blazing fast and he’s ready on a moment’s notice to cover Ultimate where we need him. – Kevin Leclaire

Beach – Action: Sandy Canetti

Just wow. – Scobel Wiggins

Beach – Atmosphere: Sandy Canetti

Not only does the photo shout Wildwood, the colors pop out on a gray day and the smile on every face captures that perfect moment that tells how happy these friends are to be back together again. – Kevin Leclaire

Club – Atmosphere: Paul Rutherford

Every single person in the shot tells another part of the story. – Scobel Wiggins

Club Men’s – Action: William “Brody” Brotman

This one smacks you with clarity and closeness and is the hardest shot to get: a layout coming straight at you. – Scobel Wiggins


Club Mixed – Action: Jolie Lang

Much like her atmosphere-winning image, this shot is clean – the lighting and exposure is so perfect it looks staged, but the faces and determination lift this peak action shot to another level. – Neil Gardner

Club Women’s – Action: Sam Hotaling

The best photos do more than show the action, they make you feel you are part of the action. Sam’s photo makes me feel the stretch and the “oh so close to catching the disc” feeling I’m sure Dena has in this moment. – Paul Rutherford


College – Atmosphere: Paul Rutherford

You can feel it, you can hear it, you can practically taste it. – Scobel Wiggins

College Men’s – Action: Paul Rutherford

The focus is perfect, and you can see how shallow the depth of field is. One inch either way and it wouldn’t be the shot it is. – Scobel Wiggins

College Women’s – Action: Paul Rutherford

Sometimes you don’t need eye contact to capture a fantastic photo; both players eyes are laser focused on the disc and Paul caught that exact moment when the bidding defender had a grip on the disc at full extension, just a hair behind the player on offense. – Kevin Leclaire


Grand Master’s Women’s – Action: Kristina Geddert

I was standing 10 feet away from Kristina when we both captured the most exciting play in the Women’s GM championship game. However, Kristina’s shot was hands down better in every aspect, timing, angle, crop selection and she brought out the best in the play. – Kevin Leclaire

GM/GGM/Legends Men’s – Action: Kristina Geddert

Some photos capture more action, some capture more emotion, but this one captures great character and great exposure shooting into the light. The bonus is the riveted crowd in the background. – Kevin Leclaire

Master’s Men’s – Action: Michael Ciaglo

The composition is drop-dead stunning. – Scobel Wiggins

Master’s Mixed – Action: Michael Ciaglo

The story of this photo is compelling; from the almost casual swat of the disc away by the player on the right to the peak layout of the player on the left to their priceless expression as they reach desperately for the disc. – Kevin Leclaire


Master’s Women’s – Action: Kristina Geddert

Two competitors with ferocity and desire on their faces and the outcome of the play in doubt – what’s not to love about a great photo like this one? – Alex Fraser


Master’s – Atmosphere: Katie Cooper

I chose this photo because it tells nothing about who won or lost, but of a group of people coming together to play a game they love. – Paul Rutherford


Professional – Action: Kevin Leclaire

A one-in-a-million shot: both a lay out coming for you and a block. Whoa! – Scobel Wiggins

Professional – Atmosphere: William “Brody” Brotman

For me this photo represents the joy of playing and the anticipation of taking the field with your teammates. It’s a great capture of a moment we can all relate to. – Alex Fraser


Reunion/Hat/League – Action: Kevin Leclaire

I always love shots where the disc is being grabbed right out of the hands of the defender – such a quick moment! This photo has the added bonus of the long lines the defender’s limbs make, creating a lovely composition. – Jolie Lang

Reunion/Hat/League – Atmosphere: Kevin Leclaire

Ed & Kelsey’s pre-wedding pickup was one of the first special events I booked while working at UltiPhotos. It was really cool seeing Kevin capture the event, including this photo – I know how important my ultimate community is to me & I could see that in this group shot. – Katie Greener

Youth – Atmosphere: Jeff Bell

Too funny! It’s like looking into the heart of polka dots – Scobel Wiggins

Youth Girls – Action: Paul Rutherford

This photo nails peak action, timing, player intensity, dramatic flair of the hair, framing, contrast, and a super shallow depth of field that brings the viewer straight to the subject. – Kevin Leclaire


Youth Mixed – Action: Alex Fraser

I love the energy in this shot, the upturned face, flowing hair. Just a beautiful composition. – Jolie Lang

Youth Open – Action: Jeff Bell

Just a great play captured by Jeff Bell; I love how the players are both leaning in from opposite directions, bringing your eye to the disc and the impending block. – Kevin Leclaire

Action Photo of the Year: Sam Hotaling

The perfect timing of this photo captures the absolute “Wow!” of an incredible D; it’s clear the Machine player has already traveled quite a ways in the air to end up with his hand right in front of the receiver’s; and the expressions are pure intensity. – Kevin Leclaire


Atmosphere Photo of the Year: Jolie Lang

The clean subject/background separation focuses the viewer on the celebration – there’s nothing to distract. Exposure/lighting on the faces is nailed. People also speak of ‘peak action’ but Jolie captured ‘peak joy’ here and that comes across in the image.  Neil Gardner

The Con10enT tour was special — the energy electric and the smiles contagious and nobody captured that moment of pure celebration better than Jolie. – Kevin Leclaire

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