National Geographic’s Travel Photographer of the Year photo competition has a long history of producing some of the most incredible photos of our world to date.
It is one of the most highly anticipated events within the photo/art world.
And in the same way that these masterful photos of Jupiter make you feel a little less worried about missing your train to work, the photos featured in Nat Geo’s competition are often humbling and awe-inspiring.
It is the majesty of nature and raw storytelling at its finest.
Each photo depicts a unique and beautiful part of our world and/or the creatures who live there. This includes humans.
There are three categories – nature, cities, and people.
The winners take home sizeable sums of money; the grand prize winner takes home a lovely $10,000.
So, let’s take a look at the winners and some honourable mentions:
NATURE/GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Mermaid by Reiko Takahashi
This photo, taken by Reiko Takahashi, was captured near Japan’s Kumejima Island.
It features the stunningly patterned rear end of a humpback whale calf.
Talking to National Geographic, Takahashi says about the experience:
“At one point, the calf began jumping and tapping its tail on the water near us — it was very friendly and curious.
Finally, the mother, who was watching nearby, came to pick up the calf and swim away.
I fell in love completely with the calf and its very energetic, large, and beautiful tail.”
HONOURABLE MENTION: Formation, by Niklas Weber (People’s Choice Winner)
“When we arrived at the Río Grande de Tarcoles in Costa Rica, I saw a fantastic formation of the sharp-mouthed crocodiles.
I couldn’t help myself, and I started my drone and began to photograph them from the air. My heart was beating like crazy because I was incredibly excited, on the one hand I was a bit scared for the drone, on the other hand I was so happy about the unique moment.” (Nat Geo)
CITIES: Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki, Japan by Hiro Kuashina
For a country with a population of 127 million, this photo presents quite a different image of a day in one of Japan’s quieter cities.
Kurashina said, talking to National Geographic, that the “quiet streetscape seen through the front windshield of the tram somehow caught my attention…the ride on a vintage tram through the relatively quiet main street was a memorable experience during our week-long visit to the historic city of Nagasaki.”
HONOURABLE MENTION: Alone in the Crowds, by Gary Cummins
“In this photo, I tried to bring the intense and stacked living conditions that Hong Kong is famous for into perspective for the viewer,” Cummins told Nat Geo.
PEOPLE: Tea Culture, by Alessandra Meniconzi
This stunning image captures Damel, a Mongolian woman drinking tea for Kazakh – an ancient method of hunting with Golden Eagles. Photographer Meniconzi followed Damel and her family as they migrated from winter to spring camp during Kazakh.
“Tea for Kazakh is one of the attributes of hospitality. It isn’t just a drink, but a mix of tradition, culture, relaxation, ceremony, and pleasure. Damel, seen here wrapped in heavy fur clothes, drinks a cup of tea to keep warm from the cold temperatures.” (Nat Geo)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Challenging Journey, by MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan (Third place winner, People)
This photo was taken during Eid, the religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, at Dhaka’s airport rail station.
“People were returning to their village homes to spend Eid with families, and the rush at the last hour was immense.”
See other winners here.