2013 Winners of the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Eastern Screech Owl
Merit Winner: Portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl “Masters of disguise. The Eastern Screech Owl is seen here doing what they do best. You better have a sharp eye to spot these little birds of prey.” -Graham McGeorge

The winners of the 2013 photo contest have finally been announced by the National Geographic Traveler Magazine. This year’s entries featured incredible images that mirrored the world’s amazing diversity. Entries in excess of 15,500 of both professional and amateur photographers from all over the world entered their photographs in the esteemed competition.

First Place: Brazil Aquathlon
First Place: Brazil Aquathlon “I was in Manaus, Amazonas, during the Brazilian Aquathlon (swimming and running) championship. I photographed it from the water and my lens got completely wet, but there was so much energy in these boys that I just didn’t worry about that.” —Wagner Araujo

Photographer Wagner Araujo’s Brazil Aquathlon bagged the first prize for the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, which is on its silver year. Araujo won a 10-day Galápagos Expedition for two. Araujo’s winning photo of the Brazil Aquathlon will also be featured in the Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. He will likewise receive a one-year subscription to the magazine.

thunderstorm at false kiva
Second Place: Thunderstorm at False Kiva “I hiked out to these ruins at night hoping to photograph them with the Milky Way, but instead a thunderstorm rolled through, creating this dramatic image.” —Max Seigal

The second prize which is a seven-day National Geographic Photography Workshop to be held in Santa Fe was awarded to Max Seigal, who hiked out to Canyonlands National Park Utah, with the hopes of capturing the ruins with the Milky Way as a dramatic backdrop. What he shot instead was a much more spectacular thunderstorm called Thunderstorm at False Kiva.

cheetah on vehicle
Third Place: Say Cheese “Cheetahs jumped on the vehicle of tourists in Masai Mara national park, Kenya.” —Yanai Bonneh

For third place, Yahai Bonneh’s Say Cheese was awarded a six-day cruise for two from Schooner American Eagle and Heritage. His amazing photograph of cheetahs jumping on a Land Rover Defender in  Masai Mara National Park, Kenya, is truly unbelievable.

portrait of young boy
Merit Winner: Children of Reindeer “Mikael Ánde, a child of Sámi reindeer herders, takes a break indoors after a long, cold day of rounding up the animals for vaccinations and slaughter. Children of reindeer herders learn to handle these animals and the land they thrive in from infancy – young Mikael here knew far more about the ways of nature than I could ever hope to learn.” -Michelle Schantz


women of the congo
Merit Winner: The Tata Honda Sect “The photographer could get inside of an enclosed sect named Tatahonda in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ladies are preparing for their religious ceremony.” -Gergely Lantai-Csont
playing piano at waterfront
Merit Winner: Piano Play at Sunset “Streets of Queenstown, New Zealand at the end of one more day filled with adrenaline. Calming and doleful scene with piano sound in the background.” -Nikola Smernic

The assortment of entries is moving and exciting, showing how beautifully diverse the world is. “Every year the task of judging the contest gets tougher,” said National Geographic Traveler magazine’s editor in chief, Keith Bellows in a press release. “The quality of photos increasingly gets better — and the range of imagery more diverse. It’s exciting to see the emergence of such huge numbers of imaginative photographers.”

face painting
Merit Winner: Guanjiang Shou “Guanjiang Shou troupes are one of Taiwan most popular activities that may be seen all over Taiwan at traditional folk religion gatherings. With their fiercely painted faces, protruding fangs and powerful, choreographed performances, they are easily recognized, They may be described as underworld police or gods’ bodyguards.” -Chan Kwok Hung


collecting water by the river
Merit Winner: Lady in Water “A lady collects water in the river by a village in Bagan, Myanmar.” -Marcelo Salvador

The photo contest featured 4 categories: Outdoor Scenes, Travel Portraits, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The judges reviewed the submissions for two rounds, and then chose the top three images, along with seven merit choices and one viewers’ choice winner.

See the entire award winning collection here. Congratulations to all the winners.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.