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Amazing Winners of the 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

After teasing the public with amazing early entries and presenting a finessed list of finalists, National Geographic has announced the winners of this year's Travel Photographer of the Year Contest. Led by grand-prize winner Sergio Tapiro Velasco and featuring a collection of category winners and honorable mentions selected from over 15,000 submissions, this year's list is not one to miss.

With The Power of Nature, a stunning shot of a fork of lightning striking a volcano as it erupts, Velasco taken home the grand prize: a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions and $2500. Velasco took the winning image while in in Colima, Mexico, where he has dedicated over 10 years to documenting the “Volcano of Fire.”

One particularly clear night, Velasco was able to capture the volcano as he had never seen it before. “When I looked on the camera display, all I could do was stare,” Velasco tells National Geographic. “What I was watching was impossible to conceive, the image showed those amazing forces of nature interacting on a volcano, while the lightning brightened the whole scene. It’s an impossible photograph and my once in a lifetime shot that shows the power of nature.”

In addition to Velasco's amazing image, the panel of judges also selected first, second, and third-place winners from each category: Cities, Nature, and People. These winners were awarded $2500, $750, and $500, respectively, as well as subscriptions to National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can see the stunning selections below.

This year, the winners were selected by judges Molly Roberts, National Geographic's senior photography editor, and award-winning photographers Benjamin Lowy and Jody MacDonald. “The quality of submissions in the 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year contest was wonderfully eclectic,” Roberts explains. “I was inspired by the variety of locations and creativity of the photographers in their quest to make compelling images.”

See the full selection of winners of the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest below.

NATURE – 1st Place (and Grand Prize)

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

1st (and Grand Prize)
Photo and caption by Sergio Tapiro Velasco/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
The power of nature
Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on December 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, and illuminated most of the dark scene. On last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average.

 

NATURE – 2nd Place

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Hiromi Kano/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
To live.
Swans who live vigorous even in mud.

 

NATURE – 3rd Place

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Tarun Sinha /National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Crocodiles at Rio Tarcoles
This image was captured in Costa Rica when I was travelling from Monteverde to Playa Hermosa. As you cross over this river, you can stop and peer over the edge of the bridge. Below, reside over 35 gigantic crocodiles, relaxing on the muddy banks of the river. I wanted to capture the stark difference between the crocodiles on land and in the water. In the murky waters, the body contours of these beasts remain hidden, and one can only truly see their girth as they emerge from the river.

 

NATURE – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Clane Gessel/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Marble Caves
The marble caves of Patagoina

 

NATURE – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Yutaka Takafuji/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Forest of the Fairy
Shooting in the forest This photograph was taken in the evening hours of a humid early summer day in the forest of a small remote village in the Tamba area of Japan. It beautifully captures the magical atmosphere of Princess fireflies carpeting a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people.

 

NATURE – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Reynold Riksa Dewantara/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Mt. Bromo
Mount Bromo volcano is a small, but active volcanic cinder cone on Java, Indonesia. Early 2016, I happened to be in Mt. Bromo during the increase of seismic activity and triggered the alert status to the second highest.

 

NATURE – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Shane Gross/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
In Your Face
Caribbean reef sharks are usually shy so I placed my camera on a rock where I know they frequent and used a remote trigger to click away as they came in and bumped my camera around.

 

CITIES – 1st Place

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Norbet Fritz/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Levels of reading
The modern interior of the city library in Stuttgart. With its wide-open space in the central, where natural light comes from through the windows on the top, it has a very unique atmosphere, where you can broaden your knowledge.

 

CITIES – 2nd Place

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Andy Yeung/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Walled City #08
The Kowloon Walled City was the densest place on Earth. Hundreds of houses stacked on top of each other enclosed in the center of the structure. Many didn’t have access to open space.This notorious city was finally demolished in 1990s. However, if you look hard enough, you will notice that the city is not dead. Part of it still exists in many of current high density housing apartments. I hope this series can get people to think about claustrophobic living in Hong Kong from a new perspective.

 

CITIES – 3rd Place

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Misha De-Stroyev/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Henningsvær Football Field
This football field in Henningsvær in the Lofoten Islands is considered one of the most amazing fields in Europe, and maybe even in the world. The photo was taken during a 10-day sailing trip in Norway in June 2017. We arrived to Henningsvær after a week of sailing through the cold and rainy weather. Upon our arrival, the weather cleared up. I was really lucky that the conditions were suitable for flying my drone, and I managed to capture this shot from a height of 120 meters.

 

CITIES – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Tetsuya Hashimoto/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Colorful apartment
This building is apartment complex in Gifu Prefecture of Japan. It is very colorful, but it is an ordinary collective housing where ordinary people can live.

 

CITIES – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Andrzej Bochenski/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Al Ain
New city on the desert

 

PEOPLE – 1st Place

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by F. Dilek Uyar / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
worship
This photo was taken in Konya. Willing Dervish in an historical place of Sille KonyaTurkey.
The ‘dance' of the Whirling Dervishes is called Sema and is a symbol of the Mevlevi culture. According to Mevlana's teachings, human beings are born twice, once of their mothers and the second time of their own bodies.

 

PEOPLE – 2nd Place

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Julius Y. / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Interesting moment.
Museum visitors curiously watching Rembrandt's painting ” Syndics of the Drapers' Guild” where it gave the illusion that the people on the paintings too are curiously watching the visitors.

 

PEOPLE – 3rd Place

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Rodney Bursiel/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Under The Wave
I recently traveled to Tavarua, Fiji to do some surf photography with pro surfer Donavon Frankenreiter at Cloudbreak. I'm always looking for new angles and perspectives. The usual surf shots have all been done so we decided to get a little creative. Makes you look twice.

 

PEOPLE – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Jobit George /National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Bridging Generation.
A beautiful photo of a father and son sitting in white traditional attire with beautiful blue sky on the day of Eid al-Fitr in a mosque in New Delhi, India. The photo shows the beautiful bond which these two generation have been building up in a very simple and lovable manner.

 

PEOPLE – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Moin Ahmed / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
The Man’s Stare
The photo was taken on 23rd of July 2016 at Tongi Railway Station, Gazipur, Bangladesh. I was there for taking photos and waiting for a moment. A train from Dhaka toward another district has reached and stopped at the platform for 5 min for lifting passengers. It was huge raining. Suddenly I found a pair of curious eye was looking at me through the window and on his left an umbrella has been put for protect the rain. I got the moment.

 

PEOPLE – Honorable Mention

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest Winners

Photo and caption by Michael Dean Morgan / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Blessings at Besakih
Besakih Temple has been known as Bali's ‘Mother Temple' for over 1000 years and is perched 1000 metres high on the southwestern slopes of Mount Agung. Here Balinese often come to offer up prayer and take blessing from the temple priests or “Pemangku” who reside there.

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by National Geographic.

Related Articles:

Stunning Early Entries of the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

More Early Highlights from the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Final Highlights of National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

Amazing Winners of the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

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