Photo of a humpback whale made Japanese photographer Reiko Takahashi winner of this year’s National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Photographers from all over the world competed in the annual National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest – and from more than 13,000 entries in total, the jury has finally selected the absolute best for this year.
Grand-prize and Nature category winner: Mermaid – Kumejima, Japan
This year’s competition focused on outstanding and spectacular photos taken within the last two years, with entries in three categories: Nature, People and Cities.
And with her stunning photo of a humpback whale calf’s tail, Japanese photographer Reiko Takahashi won the grand-prize.
Her picture, called Mermaid, was taken on the coast of Japan’s Kumejima Island when the long-time photographer decided to leave her office job to pursue her passion for underwater photography. She travelled to the island on a mission to photograph humpback whales with their young calves.
“It was a special scene for me, to be able to take a photo of the calf, completely relaxed in gentle waters,” said Takahashi. “I really cannot believe it. It was my dream to win. I am honoured and it will be the driving force for my future shooting.”
Takanashi will receive e a $10,000 USD prize for her snap.
Cities category winner: Another rainy day in Nagasaki, Kyushu
In addition to the grand-prize winner, top photos were selected in each of the three categories. Takahashi’s photo was also chosen as the winner in the Nature category. Hiro Kurashina of Japan took top honours in the Cities category for his photo titled Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki, Kyushu.
“This is a view of the main street from a tram in Nagasaki on a rainy day. The tram is vintage, but retrofitted with modern ticketing equipment. A conductor is no longer on board – only the lone driver. The quiet streetscape seen through the front windshield of the tram somehow caught my attention,” Kurashina said.
Winner of People category: Tea Culture – Kazakhstan
Alessandra Meniconzi’s photo, called Tea Culture, captures a Kazakh lady sipping tea topped the People’s category.
“I’m fascinated by the ancient Kazakh method of hunting with Golden Eagles. I followed a family during their migration from winter to spring camp. Mongolia is sparsely populated, but the inhabitants have a very hospitable and welcoming culture,” the Swiss photographer said.
Nature category, 2nd place: Flamingos taking off – Lake Natron, Tanzania
The main judge of this year’s competition was Whitney Johnson, vice president of visual experiences at National Geographic, as well as two National Geographic contributing photographers – ocean and adventure photographer Andy Mann and polar photographer Camille Seaman.
“I was amazed at the quality of images and the sensibility towards subject in all three categories for this competition,” said Seaman.
“Looking at hundreds of images choosing the winners was a daunting task. The images that stood out did so based not solely on their technical execution but also a sensitivity for a feeling of the moment and originality.”