Mark Twain wrote; “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”. Wise words, and travel is even better when you have a camera in your hand. If further proof was needed, just take a look at the winning images from 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest and you’ll be reminded what a beautiful planet we live on.
The prestigious contest, which recognises spectacular photos, saw more than 13,000 entries in three categories: Nature, People and Cities. Picking up the grand prize was Japanese photographer, Reiko Takahashi, who took home top honours for her photo of a humpback whale calf’s tail, titled “Mermaid”.
The image, which was captured off the coast of Japan's Kumejima Island, also netted Reiko a $10,000 cash prize. The long-time photographer left her office job to pursue her passion for underwater photography and traveled to Kumejima Island on a mission to photograph humpback whales with their young calves.
Another Japanese photographer, Hiro Kurashina, claimed top spot in the Cities category for his photo titled “Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki, Kyushu” - a striking black and white capture that straddles the genres of fine art and street photography.
Alessandra Meniconzi of Switzerland won the People category for a stunning portrait titled “Tea Culture”. Alessandra explained a little more about the image; "For a long time, I have been fascinated by the ancient Mongolian method of hunting with Golden Eagles. Tea for Kazakh culture is one of the attributes of hospitality. Tea 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 chilly temperatures in Western Mongolia. "
The competition was judged by a panel that included celebrated ocean and adventure photographer Andy Mann and polar photographer Camille Seaman. Enrico Pescantini took 2nd place with his image of Teotihuacan, a Mexican archeological site.
Gary Cummins was given an Honourable Mention in the Cities category for this aerial image captured in Hong Kong. He explained; "I tried to bring the intense and stacked living conditions that Hong Kong is famous for into perspective for the viewer. "
2nd place in the People category went to Tait Itat, who commented; "They say living in Brazil is like living in paradise—very different from the reality of their country of origin. They dream of becoming models and teachers, as a way to earn money to bring their other relatives from Haiti to Brazil, to live all near one another. "
This colourful frame took 2nd Place in the Nature category and was teken by Hao J. The scene, captured at Lake Natron in Tanzania shows Flamingoes taking off from the waters.
Taking third place in the People category was this striking frame by MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan, who commented: "This photograph was taken from Dhaka's airport rail station during the Eid vacation. People were returning to their village homes to spend Eid with families, and the rush at the last hour was immense. One man caught my attention: he was dangling on a train's handle with his family, trying to get inside the train. "
Picking up third place in the Cities category was this image of a thoroughly modern metropolis, captured by Gaanesh Prasad. "I wanted to photograph the fog, which is epic in Dubai every year from December to January. Sadly, I could not get access to the rooftop so I peeped through the glazed window on a lower floor. I was overwhelmed and excited to see how beautiful the city looks, and my excitement was quadrupled as soon as I saw the reflection of the road and building on the building that I was in. "
Roundning off the Nature category was this third place image by Marco Grassi entitled, 'Mars'. He explained; "These natural sand towers, capped with large stones, are known as the Earth Pyramids of Platten. They are situated in Northern Italy’s South Tyrol region. "