Smithsonian Magazine Announces Winners of Its 19th Annual Photo Contest

People Using Zoom to Stay Connect with Family During Covid-19

“Lockdown but Not Disconnected” (© Sinsee Ho. All rights reserved.) Grand Prize Winner
I took this photo in February 2021 during Chinese Lunar New Year. It was lockdown in Malaysia and social gatherings were limited, with travel restricted to within a 10-kilometer radius. Although staying at home, we remained connected to family and friends.

A look at how we stayed connected during the pandemic took home the top prize at the 19th annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest. Sinsee Ho's timely photo beat out the 59 other finalist images, which were culled from over 47,000 entries. Aside from the grand prize, winners were named in six categories, as well as a Readers' Choice award.

Ho's winning image was taken in Malaysia during the 2021 Chinese Lunar New Year. Typically a time for big gatherings, Ho wanted to show how dramatically the world had changed. “I had my husband wear a red shirt and Chinese traditional ponytail hat to depict the festive mood of Lunar New Year, while I portrayed a more casual mood, as though I just woke up from bed,” she shared. “I used a tripod and 10-second self-timer to take the shot.”

Winners were also announced in the six individual categories—Natural World, People, Travel, American Experience, Altered Images, and Mobile. The themes allowed for a rich array of imagery, from Matjaz Krivic's touching look at the relationship between humans and animals to Prathamesh Ghadekar's fascinating look at the symbiotic relationship between two types of insects.

Over 13,000 votes were cast for the Readers' Choice award, which went to Shayna Stevens. Stevens' charming photo was taken right in her own backyard. In the photo, Stevens' husband shows their 2-year-old son the inside of a can, fresh with milk he'd just gathered. This moving moment between father and son is certainly one that resonated with the public.

See more winners and finalists below and check out all 60 images on Smithsonian Magazine.

Smithsonian Magazine just announced the winners of its 19th annual photo contest.

Northern White Rhino Resting with Her Caretaker

“Najin Resting With Her Caretaker” (© Matjaz Krivic. All rights reserved.) Winner, People
Najin, who at age 32 is one of only two surviving northern white rhinos, rests under a hot afternoon sun with her friend and caretaker Zachary Mutai in Kenya's Ol Pajeta Conservancy.

Father Showing His Toddler About Milking a Cow

“Teach Me Dad” (© Shayna Stevens. All rights reserved.) Winner, Readers' Choice.
My husband Will with our two-year-old son Harvest in our milking parlor. Harvest was curious as to what was in the can. It was milk, of course!

Kenneth Shirley of the Indigenous Enterprise dance troupe

“Indigenous Swirling Colors” (© Craig Lefebvre. All rights reserved.) Winner, American Experience.
Kenneth Shirley of the Indigenous Enterprise dance troupe twirls through the sun and shadows in Tlaquepaque, Sedona, Arizona.

Ants and Avids on a Plant

“Ants and the Aphids” (© Prathamesh Ghadekar. All rights reserved.) Winner, Natural World.
Aphids and ants coexist in a symbiotic relationship: The aphids suck the sap of plants and then secrete a substance called honeydew that feeds the ants, who in turn protect the aphids from predators.

Colorful Office Building in Tokyo

“Transition-2” (© Chen-Tung Tai. All rights reserved.) Winner, Travel.
This colorful facade hides an office building in Tokyo. The sight of it took my breath away.

Aerial View of Workers in Bangladesh Hanging Strips of Cotton to Dry

“Add Some More Colors” (© Sultan Ahmed Niloy. All rights reserved.) Finalist, Travel.
Workers in Bangladesh's lay out strips of dyed cotton to dry in the sun. Seen from above, the textiles form a mesmerizing pattern.

Taiwanese Dance Troupe Performing

“Floating Flowers Performed by B.DANCE” (© Garry Platt. All rights reserved.) Winner, Altered Image.
The Taiwanese dance troupe B. DANCE performs their piece “Floating Flowers” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.

Abandoned North Korean Schooners off the Coast of Russia

“Rejected Schooners” (© Andrey Krovlin. All rights reserved.) Finalist, Altered Image
These abandoned North Korean schooners have found their final resting place in the Sea of Japan just off the coast of Primorye, Russia.

House on Lake Erie Covered in Ice After a Storm

“Ice House on Lake Erie” (© Garret Suhrie. All rights reserved.) Finalist, Travel.
A house is encased in ice following a violent storm that swept across the Great Lakes.

Baby snow monkeys playing in a hot spring in Japan

“Baby Snow Monkeys” (© Ramesh Letchmanan. All rights reserved.) Finalist, Natural World
Baby snow monkeys play in an “onsen” — hot spring — in Yamanouchi, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. This is the only region where nonhuman primates are known to bathe in hot springs.

Lava at Fagradalsfjall Volcano in Iceland

“Born of Fire” (© Filip Hrebenda. All rights reserved.) Finalist, Natural World.
The volcano Fagradalsfjall, on Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula, erupted in March 2021 for the first time in six thousand years. This photo was taken in early April. The eruption lasted roughly six months.

Chicago's Bascule Bridges

“City of Bridges” (© Lam Hoang. All rights reserved.) Finalist, Mobile.
Chicago's distinct Bascule bridges, which use a system of gears and counterweights to pull the structures upward and back to allow tall watercraft to pass beneath, are a widely recognized feature of the city's magnificent architecture. Chicago boasts more moveable bridges than any other city in the world.

A man performs morning rituals at Yamuna Ghat, New Delhi, India.

“Fill the Frame” (© Sunil Choudhary. All rights reserved.) Winner, Mobile.
A man performs morning rituals at Yamuna Ghat, New Delhi, India.

Black and White Photo of a Person Standing Under a Skylight

“Waiting for Hope” (© Sara Goli. All rights reserved.) Finalist, Altered Image.

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My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Smithsonian Magazine.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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