At Visions we spend much of our lives exploring Azerbaijan, meeting its characters and seeking out interesting stories and themes to include in our quarterly journal. But we also want to hear from you, to gauge your impressions of the country, its people, culture and cuisine. Hence a few months ago we launched our inaugural #visionsofazerbaijan hashtag contest which came to an end on 4 December. We want to thank everyone who took part for so many great images, which together paint such a diverse and colourful picture of Azerbaijani life (check out all the entries yourself by typing #visionsofazerbaijan into Instagram, and see some of the images that caught our attention during the contest on the “hashtag contest” page of our website). And now we want to share with you the results! So without further ado (drum roll please)…

Our winner is this dynamic portrait of a craftsman in Lahij, a mountain village famous for its dramatic scenery, unique language and copper artisans. The photo is by American photographer Matt Kollasch (@kollarfoto), whose work in Azerbaijan we featured in the spring 2017 issue of the magazine.

And our three runners up are as follows:

Two images capture the mesmerising landscapes of Quba, which never fail to capture the attention of both locals and tourists. Of anywhere in the country, this mountainous scenery is arguably the most spectacular.

This one is by Russian artist Yana Kot (@yanakot):

And this one of Mt Khinaliq is by local photographer Irada Gadirova (@irada_gadirova), a wider selection of whose work features in the autumn 2017 issue of the magazine (cover photo included).

And the final image focuses on Azerbaijani cuisine and more precisely the signature dish of the Sheki region. Piti is a lamb stew with chickpeas and chestnuts whose name, whenever mentioned, immediately conjures thoughts of Sheki’s cobbled streets, sweets and jovial inhabitants. This image is by food blogger Feride Buyuran (@feridebuyuran), author of Pomegranates & Saffron, A Culinary Guide to Azerbaijan.

These winning images will feature in the upcoming winter issue of our magazine, along with brief information about their authors, and please stay tuned for our next hashtag contest, to which we may give a little twist. We really hope we can entice even more of you to take part, thereby adding to our growing Visions mosaic of life in Azerbaijan!