Home / Photography / Contest15 Amazing Finalists From Smithsonian’s 15th Annual Photo Contest

15 Amazing Finalists From Smithsonian’s 15th Annual Photo Contest

Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest

Joy
© Erika Valkovicova. All rights reserved.
A seal pup enjoys the morning breeze on Dune Island in Germany.
Category: Natural World

Every year, the Smithsonian.com Annual Photo Contest wows us with incredible images from around the world. The chosen pictures capture awe-inspiring scenes from nature as well as a glimpse into other cultures and their everyday lives. For its 15th year, the competition received 48,000 submissions from photographers in 155 countries and territories in six categories, including Natural World, The American Experience, Travel, People, Altered Images, and Mobile. The esteemed judges somehow narrowed this massive selection down to just 60 of the most unique and memorable photographs.

The finalists in Smithsonian.com's 15th Annual Photo Contest showcase an exciting variety of subjects. One shot, called Joy by Erika Valkovicova, features an adorable scene of a jubilant seal pup in Germany. Another image, called Boatman, is a bird's eye view of a man in India as he leisurely enjoys his newspaper on a rowboat. No matter the subject, each picture is masterfully composed and will elicit an emotional response, whether that's joy or sorrow.

Which photograph is your favorite? Now’s the chance to make your voice heard; Smithsonian.com is giving you the chance to vote for the Readers’ Choice Award until March 26, 2018. The following day, they’ll announce the Grand Prize, Readers’ Choice, and category winners and open the 16th Annual Photo Contest for submissions.

View 15 of our favorite photos, below—and don't forget to check out all of the 60 finalists on Smithsonian.com!

Smithsonian.com 15th Annual Photo Contest Online Photography Contest

Lion's Mane Jellyfish
© Martin Prochazka. All rights reserved.
A lion’s mane jellyfish is lured by a rich plankton soup.
Category: Natural World

Smithsonian.com 15th Annual Photo Contest

Downstairs
© Klaus Lenzen. All rights reserved.
The Paul Loebe House is a government building in the Reichstag area of Berlin worth seeing. I had to wait a while for someone to come down the stairs, but the wait was paid for by this shot.
Category: Travel

Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest

Stepping Out of the Shadows
© Laurence Bouchard. All rights reserved.
A woman carrying a striped black and white umbrella passes some gates.
Category: Mobile

Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest

Affection
© Thomas Chadwick. All rights reserved.
This is my favorite black skimmer photo that I have taken in all the years following a little-known colony. Every year I select a nest when the parent is on eggs, then follow that same nest until they fledge. I choose one nest because colonies are chaotic; you will miss some shots by pointing the lens at hundreds of birds. One morning I got into position and lay there for an hour until sunrise when a parent flew in directly to feed the baby. The baby was inches away from me, so I couldn’t get the feeding photo. However, after the baby gobbled down the fish, I captured it running up to the parent and displaying the behavior pictured.
Category: Natural World

Smithsonian.com 15th Annual Photo Contest Online Photography Contest

Ray of Zeus
© Florent Mamelle. All rights reserved.
On New Year’s Eve in 2016, a sea cliff collapsed near Kalapana on Big Island, Hawaii. A dramatic stream of lava, called a fire hose, started to shoot out of the cliff. Before the sunrise, I captured this dramatic picture, where the lava cascaded into the ocean, creating steam and lava bombs. The lava stream stopped in March 2017.
Category: Natural World

Smithsonian.com 15th Annual Photo Contest

The Window
© Salvador Colvee Nebot. All rights reserved.
During my stay at a Costa Rican hotel, I noticed that red-eyed tree frogs flooded the gardens. As I approached this frog, it climbed into one of the holes in a leaf, as if it were sticking out a window.
Category: Natural World

Smithsonian.com 15th Annual Photo Contest

Boatman
© Debashis Mukherjee. All rights reserved.
A boatman enjoys the leisure of reading a newspaper on his boat.
Category: Travel

Smithsonian.com 15th Annual Photo Contest Online Photography Contest

Pinnacle of Existence
© Oreon Strusinski. All rights reserved.
Energy travels hundreds of miles across the ocean and comes to a dramatic end when it reaches our shores.
Category: Natural World

Smithsonian.com 15th Annual Photo Contest

Making Incense
© Tran Tuan Viet. All rights reserved.
Decoratively dyed bundles of incense dry in Quang Phu Cau, a commune in Hanoi, Vietnam. In Buddhist countries like Vietnam, incense is an irreplaceable part of traditional festivals and religious ceremonies.
Category: Travel

Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest

Rhino From Chitwan
© Tanya Sharapova. All rights reserved.
There are about 600 rhinos in Chitwan National Park. It was a pure adventure to follow wild rhinos in their natural habitat. The main instructions, in case a rhino ran in my direction, were to climb a tree; if there was no tree, to run zigzags. The red color of the grass comes from my imagination.
Category: Altered Images

Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest

A Perfect Flutter
© Sirsendu Gayen. All rights reserved.
I took this shot at Gangasagar Mela. The Gangasagar Mela is one of the biggest religious festivals of India. The patterns formed by the drying saree in the wind, as well as the light and shadow play, attracted my attention. I was able to complete it by adding the presence of a lone man.
Category: Mobile

Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest

Renewal
© Meaghan Ogilvie. All rights reserved.
This was shot in a pool and inverted upside down.
Category: Altered Images

Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest

Simple Motions
© Petr Lovigin. All rights reserved.
Every summer I visit a village where I have two nice “girlfriends.” This photo is from a long series called “Simple Motions,” where the two Russian “babushkas” have fun with the hula hoop, play football or do their gym.
Category: Altered Images

Smithsonian.com 15th Annual Photo Contest

Swimming
© Fabio Teixeria. All rights reserved.
A refugee of the Democratic Republic of Congo swims on his back in the waters of Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro.
Category: People

Smithsonian.com 14th Annual Photo Contest: Website

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

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