Picturesque villages, majestic animals and candid human moments – captured around the world by the photographers of this year’s National Geographic Travel Photo Contest. Each year talented artists allow us to travel the globe through the lenses of their cameras, which capture breathtaking moments we would otherwise miss. The contest honors these explorers and photographers by accepting global entries across three categories—Nature, Cities, and People.
The 2019 grand prize of $7,500 went to Weimin Chu for his whimsical ‘Winter in Greenland’ photograph. Depicted in the image is a small fishing village in Upernavik, whose brightly colored homes shine brightly amidst the fog and snow. Top winners from the other categories include Huaifeng Li’s Showtime image, which won 1st Place in the People category and captures actors preparing for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. Winning 1st Place in the Nature category, Tamara Blazquez Haik’s photograph of a griffon vulture—titled Tender Eyes— perfectly timed to capture the bird soaring through the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain. Scroll down below to see all the winners and don’t forget to upvote your favs!
People’s Choice, Nature: ‘Couples Goals’ By Brian Larrosa
Instead of taking the bus tour to Rainbow Mountain, I camped the night before, about an hour and a half away, to be the first up at sunrise. That morning was full of fog, and when I arrived, I could barely see the seven-color mountain. I waited an hour for the fog to clear, but it didn’t. On my way down, I passed this lovely alpaca couple wearing the Aymara culture colors—which made the wait worth it.
Grand Prize Winner: ‘Greenlandic Winter’ By Weimin Chu
Upernavik is a fishing village on a tiny island in west Greenland. Historically, Greenlandic buildings were painted different colors to indicate different functions, from red storefronts to blue fishermen’s homes—a useful distinction when the landscape is blanketed in snow. This photo was taken during my three-month, personal photo project to present life in Greenland.
People’s Choice, Nature: ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ By Taylor Albright
With everything, practice makes perfect. That couldn’t be more evident than when fishing for salmon atop Brooks Falls in Alaska. This brown bear was attempting to snag one mid-air, but his timing was a bit early causing the salmon to land like a slap across his face.
People’s Choice, People: ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ By Léo Kwok
Showered by molten, firework-like sparks, people in Meizhou, China performs fire dragon dance to celebrate the Lantern Festival. This celebration has been performed since the Qing Dynasty and was listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage in China in 2008. [The festival] marks the first full moon night in the Chinese lunar year.
Second Place, Nature: ‘Dream Catcher’ By Danny Sepkowski
What happens before a wave breaks? That question has been my assignment this past year. On this particular day, I decided to shoot the sunset on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii. About 100 photographers were out in the morning, but I had the evening to myself. The textures from the trade winds [created] subtle colors from the west and blended well using my 100mm lens. I had to look into my viewfinder while this wave was breaking. Not an easy task when a wave is about to crush you.
People’s Choice, Nature: ‘Wildlife Under Lightning’ By Kelvin Yuen
This was my very first trip visit to Africa. A group of rhinoceros drank water from a watering hole 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 a part of the environment and we should not treat them as a tool—we should protect them.
People’s Choice, Cities: ‘Follow The Light’ By Junhui Fang
This photo was taken at Seda Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. It’s around a 14-hour drive to get to Larung Gar [from the nearest city], and the journey is quite tough due to the mountainous roads. This view [shows] small red homes on the left side, while empty green roads [curve] on the other side. The monks follow the lights to [return] home. I was lucky to document [the area] and was deeply moved by [the monks] faith. I plan to [return] to Seda next summer [to make] more photos.
People’s Choice, Cities: ‘Volcano Emerging From Cloud’ By Paul Rozek
Walking around all day in Antigua, Guatemala, there was a persistent cloud layer that obscured the mountainous terrain surrounding the town. Late in the evening, while walking through Antigua just for a few moments, one of the volcanoes became clear and offered a spectacular view with the Santa Catalina Arch. The volcano complex known as La Horqueta, surrounds the town of Antigua in Guatemala with numerous volcanic peaks in the area including Fuego, Agua, Acatenango, and Pico Mayor.
Third Place, Nature: ‘Dusky Dolphins’ By Scott Portelli
Dusky dolphins often travel together in great numbers in the deep canyons of the Kaikoura, New Zealand in search of food. They glide through the ocean effortlessly, coming up only to breathe. Dusky dolphins are fast and will often keep pace with a speeding boat. I waited on the bow of the boat as the Dusky dolphin almost broke [through the surface]. Their elegance and streamlined bodies are built for speed and maneuverability—accentuated by the smooth, clear water of the New Zealand coastline.
First Place, Nature: ‘Tender Eyes’ By Tamara Blazquez Haik
A gorgeous griffon vulture is seen soaring the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain. How can anyone say vultures bring bad omens when looking at such tenderness in this griffon vulture’s eyes? Vultures are important members of the environment, as they take care of recycling dead matter. Vultures are noble and majestic animals—kings of the skies. When looking at them flying, we should feel humbled and admire them.