National Geographic Travel Photography Contest Winners (26 Photos)


Pictures can say many things that can hardly be expressed even with hundreds of words. the emotions hidden within a photo are so pure and speak directly to our hearts. That is why many people have chosen photography as part of themselves.

This year’s National Geographic Travel Photography Contest was held recently and this time they had paid more attention to quaint towns, majestic animals, and overly candid human moments. Every year, various landscapes of the world were covered through the competition and many people were in awe of all these images as they showed something beyond what we normally see.

In 2019, the grand prize of $ 7,500 went to Weimin Chu for his whimsical ‘Winter in Greenland’ photography. The image showed a small fishing village in Upernavik, whose brightly colored houses glow brightly amid the fog and snow. Top winners from the other categories include the Showtime picture of Huaifeng Li, which won first place in the People category and captures actors preparing for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. Winner of 1st place in the Nature category, Tamara Blazquez Haik’s photograph of a griffon vulture, titled Tender Eyes, perfectly timed to capture the bird flying through the skies in the Monfragüe National Park in Spain.

So, scroll down to see all the winners and don’t forget to vote for your favorites among them.

# 1. People’s Choice, Nature: ‘Couple Goals’ by Brian Larrosa .

Instead of taking the bus tour to Rainbow Mountain, I camped out the night before, about an hour and a half away, to be the first to get up at dawn. That morning it was full of fog and when I arrived I could barely see the mountain of seven colors. I waited an hour for the fog to clear, but it didn’t. On my way down, I came across this lovely couple of alpacas dressed in the colors of the Aymara culture, which made the wait well worth it.

# 2. Grand Prize Winner: Weimin Chu’s ‘Greenland Winter’.

Upernavik is a fishing village on a small island in western Greenland. Historically, buildings in Greenland were painted different colors to indicate different functions, from red shop windows to blue fishermen’s houses, a useful distinction when the landscape is covered in snow. This photo was taken during my personal three-month photography project to present life in Greenland.

# 3. People’s Choice, Nature: ‘Wildlife Under Lightning’ by Kevin Yuen.

This was my first visit to Africa. A group of rhinos drank water from a trough while lightning [thundered] at night. I captured over 10,000 photos to get this shot and show the relationship between nature and wildlife. Wildlife is part of the environment and we must not treat them as a tool, we must protect them.

# 4. People’s Choice, Nature: ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ by Taylor Albright.

Still, practice makes perfect. That couldn’t be more apparent than when fishing for salmon atop Brooks Falls in Alaska. This grizzly bear was trying to catch one in midair, but his timing was a little early, causing the salmon to land like a slap across his face.

# 5. Second place, Nature: ‘Dreamcatcher’ by Danny Sepkowski.

What happens before a wave breaks? That question has been my assignment last year. On this particular day, I decided to photograph the sunset on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii. About 100 photographers came out in the morning, but I had the evening to myself. The textures of the trade winds [created] subtle western colors and they blended well with my 100mm lens. I had to look through the viewer as this wave was breaking. It is not an easy task when a wave is about to crush you.

# 6. First place. Nature: ‘Tender eyes’ by Tamara Blazquez Haik.

A beautiful griffon vulture is seen flying through the skies in the Monfragüe National Park in Spain. How can anyone say that vultures bring bad omens seeing so much tenderness in the eyes of this griffon vulture? Vultures are important members of the environment, as they are responsible for recycling dead matter. Vultures are noble and majestic animals, kings of the skies. Watching them fly, we should feel humbled and admire them.

# 7. People’s Choice, Cities: ‘Cat in the City Sky’ by Jonas Chan.

When you travel around the city, humans are not the only living species. When we look at the sky, sometimes there are surprises.

# 8. People’s choice, People: ‘La risa’ by Jorge Delgado-Urena.

It was not an easy task to capture the little lamas, as the older monks call them. They spend their free time together, checking their social networks or playing soccer.

# 9 People’s Choice, People: ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ by Leo Kwok.

Bathed in molten sparks that look like fireworks, the people of Meizhou, China, perform the fire dragon dance to celebrate the Lantern Festival. This celebration has been held since the Qing Dynasty and was listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in China in 2008. [The festival] marks the first night of the full moon in the Chinese lunar year.

# 10. The People’s Choice, Cities: ‘Volcano Emerging from the Cloud’ by Paul Rozek.

Walking all day in Antigua, Guatemala, there was a persistent cloud cover obscuring the mountainous terrain surrounding the city. Late at night, while walking around Antigua for a few moments, one of the volcanoes cleared up and offered a spectacular view with the Arch of Santa Catalina. The volcanic complex known as La Horqueta surrounds the city of Antigua in Guatemala with numerous volcanic peaks in the area, including Fuego, Agua, Acatenango, and Pico Mayor.

# 11. People’s Choice, Nature: ‘Split Shot of Crabeater Seals’ by Rita Kluge.

A crabeater seal is seen trying to get a spot on the same iceberg as its mate.

# 12. The choice of people, cities: ‘Follow the light’ of Junhui Fang.

This photo was taken at Seda Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. It takes about 14 hours to get to Larung Gar [from the nearest town], and the journey is quite difficult due to the hilly roads. This view [shows] small red houses on the left side, while empty green roads [curved] on the other side. The monks follow the lights to [go back] home. I was lucky enough to document [the area] and was deeply moved by the faith [of the monks]. I plan to [return] to Seda next summer [to take] more photos.

# 13. People’s Choice, Nature: Colorado River by Stas Bartnikas.

The Colorado River is very shallow due to the active extraction of water for agricultural purposes. When [the river] meets the ocean in Mexico, it is almost dry. This aerial photo was taken from a Cessna [airplane].

# 14. Third place, nature: ‘Dusky dolphins’ by Scott Portelli.

Dusky dolphins often travel together in large numbers in the deep canyons of Kaikoura, New Zealand, in search of food. They glide through the ocean effortlessly, coming up just to breathe. Dusky dolphins are fast and often keep up with a high-speed boat. I waited in the bow of the boat while the Dusky dolphin almost broke [through the surface]. Their sleekness and streamlined bodies are designed for speed and maneuverability, accentuated by the smooth, clear water off the New Zealand coast.

#fifteen. Honorable mention, people: ‘Mood’ by Navin Vatsa.

I captured this layered moment during sunrise along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India. This boy thought in silence and the visitors enjoyed the loud musical chirp of thousands of seagulls. The golden light of early morning from the east mixed with the blue light from the west, creating an [ethereal atmosphere]. I am a regular visitor [here] and have photographed this place for the past three years. Now, many national and international photographers have started to visit.

#sixteen. Honorable mention, nature: ‘King of Alps’ by Jonas Schafer.

A herd of mountain goats in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland crosses a ridge above Lake Brienz. Its powerful and impressive horns show who the king of the Alps is. Mountain goats are ideally suited to living at dizzying heights. The continuous ridge path and growing fog show the natural habitat of these animals. After a few hours of observing the animals, I saw the herd of mountain goats on one side of the ridge. Several mountain goats stopped in the transition [to see the world around them].

# 17. People’s choice, cities: ‘The glow of dawn decorates the city in the mist’ by Carlo Yuen.

The glow of the morning dawn decorated the city with mist. Hong Kong is a coastal region and has always been covered in fog during the spring. Fortunately, landscape photographers come across this wonderful landscape. However, this scene may be disappearing forever due to global warming, winter will disappear and no more cold air will meet warm air during spring. So this is a very precious catch.

# 18.First place, people: Huaifeng Li’s ‘Showtime’.

Actors prepare for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. I spent the whole day with these actors from makeup to [stage]. I am a freelance photographer and the “Cave Life” series is a long-term project of mine. On China’s Loess Plateau, local residents dig holes in the loess layer [to create cave living spaces, known as yaodongs] and use the heat-conserving properties to survive cold winters.

# 19. Second place, cities: ‘In the age of aviation’ by Jassen Todorov.

There are four runways at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). This is a rare look at the approach end of runways 28 left and right. I dreamed of documenting the motion in the OFS and [arranged] permission to fly directly overhead. What a windy day! The winds at the OFS were 35 to 45 miles per hour, which meant a bumpy flight and it was much more difficult to control the plane while photographing. The flight was challenging, but it was also so exciting that I couldn’t sleep for several days.

# 20. People’s Choice, People: ‘On the Streets of Bulgaria’ by Kristyn Taylor.

Dressed in his long-haired goat costume, a man stands ready to walk the streets of Pernik, Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Surva Festival is an annual gathering of villagers posing as Kukeri. The ceremony is a pagan festival meant to ward off evil spirits and welcome renewal in the New Year.

# 21. Second place, people: Yoshiki Fujiwara’s ‘Daily Routine’.

This photo was taken in a public park at Choi Hung House in Hong Kong. When I visited in the afternoon, it was very busy with many young people taking pictures and playing basketball. But when I visited it at dawn, it was a quiet and different place. [The area] is [designated] for neighborhood residents early in the morning, and there was a sacred atmosphere. I felt divinity when I saw an old man doing tai chi in the sun.

# 22. People’s choice, people: ‘Cherry blossoms in concrete’ by Lester Lau.

Having wandered around Seoul during my spring trip, I saw a cherry blossom tree blooming near the corner of the street. There is only one [single] beam of light for the tree to grow in the concrete jungle. It seems that the human invasion has made (the trees) fight and force them to find a way to live with us.

# 23. Third place, cities: ‘Streets of Dhaka’ by Sandipani Chattopadhyay.

People pray on the street in Dhaka, Bangladesh during Ijtema. Bishwa Ijtema is one of the major Islamic religious gatherings [observed] annually in Dhaka and millions of Muslims visit [during this time]. The dedicated prayer grounds are not [big] enough to cater for this large number of people, so a large number of people come to [Tongi], the main street of Dhaka. All ground transportation and [crosswalks] are suspended during that time.

# 24. People’s Choice, Cities: ‘Tokyo life’ by Shan W.

This Tokyo Tower room looks dynamic. In the busy city, the natural light coming into this room gave us time to relax. My wife was reading a magazine while enjoying the scenery and the slow weather.

# 25. People’s choice, people: ‘Beach- Chaung Thar, Myanmar’ by Maciej Dakowicz.

A quiet afternoon on the beach in Chaung Thar, one of the most popular coastal towns in Myanmar.

# 26. Third place, people: ‘Caballos’ by José Antonio Zamora.

Every year on the feast of San Antonio, the animal purification ceremony, called Las Luminarias, is celebrated in Spain. In the province of Ávila, horses and riders jump over bonfires in the ritual that has been maintained since the 18th century. The animals [do not get hurt], and it is a ritual that is repeated every year. To take the photo I moved from Seville to San Bartolomé de Pinares because I am very interested in photographing ancestral rites.

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