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The Winning Photos of the 2019 Nat Geo Travel Photo Contest


National Geographic has announced the winners of its 2019 Travel Photo Contest. Photographer Weimin Chu won the $7,500 grand prize for his Cities photo “Greenlandic Winter,” which shows the fishing village of Upernavik in Greenland.

“Upernavik is a fishing village on a tiny island in west Greenland,” Chu writes in the description. “Historically, Greenlandic buildings were painted different colors to indicate different functions, from red storefronts to blue fishermen’s homes—a useful distinction when the landscape is blanketed in snow. This photo was taken during my three-month, personal photo project to present life in Greenland.”

Here are the other winning photos from this year’s contest:

2nd Place, Cities. “In the Age of Aviation” by Jassen Todorov.
“There are four runways at San Francisco’s International Airport (SFO). This is a rare look at the approach end of runways 28 left and right. I had dreams of documenting the motion at SFO and [arranged] permission to fly directly overhead. What a windy day it was. Winds at SFO were 35-45 miles per hour, which meant a bumpy flight, and it was much harder to control the plane while photographing. The flight was challenging, but it was also so thrilling that I couldn’t sleep for several days.”
Photograph by Jassen Todorov / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
3rd Place, Cities. “Streets of Dhaka” by Sandipani Chattopadhyay.
“People pray on the street in Dhaka, Bangladesh during Ijtema. Bishwa Ijtema is one of the major Islamic religious gatherings which is [observed] annually in Dhaka and millions of Muslims visit [during this time]. Dedicated prayer grounds are not [large] enough to handle this huge number of people, so large numbers of people come to [Tongi], the main street of Dhaka. All the ground transportation and [pedestrian crossings] are suspended during that time.”
Photograph by Sandipani Chattopadhyay / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
Honorable Mention, Cities. “Follow the Light” by Junhui Fang.
“This photo was taken at Seda Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. It’s around a 14-hour drive to get to Larung Gar [from the nearest city], and the journey is quite tough due to the mountainous roads. This view [shows] small red homes on the left side, while empty green roads [curve] on the other side. The monks follow the lights to [return] home. I was lucky to document [the area] and was deeply moved by [the monks] faith. I plan to [return] to Seda next summer [to make] more photos.”
Photograph by Junhui Fang / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
1st Place, Nature. “Tender Eyes” by Tamara Blazquez Haik.
“A gorgeous griffon vulture is seen soaring the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain. How can anyone say vultures bring bad omens when looking at such tenderness in this griffon vulture’s eyes? Vultures are important members of the environment, as they take care of recycling dead matter. Vultures are noble and majestic animals—kings of the skies. When looking at them flying, we should feel humbled and admire them.”
Photograph by Tamara Blazquez Haik / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
2nd Place, Nature. “Dream Catcher” by Danny Sepkowski.
“What happens before a wave breaks? That question has been my assignment this past year. On this particular day, I decided to shoot the sunset on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii. About 100 photographers were out in the morning, but I had the evening to myself. The textures from the trade winds [created] subtle colors from the west and blended well using my 100mm lens. I had to look into my viewfinder while this wave was breaking. Not an easy task when a wave is about to crush you.”
Photograph by Danny Sepkowski / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
3rd Place, Nature. “Dusky Dolphins” by Scott Portelli.
“Dusky dolphins often travel together in great numbers in the deep canyons of the Kaikoura, New Zealand in search of food. They glide through the ocean effortlessly, coming up only to breathe. Dusky dolphins are fast and will often keep pace with a speeding boat. I waited on the bow of the boat as the Dusky dolphin almost broke [through the surface]. Their elegance and streamlined bodies are built for speed and maneuverability—accentuated by the smooth, clear water of the New Zealand coastline.”
Photograph by Scott Portelli / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
Honorable Mention, Nature. “King of the Alps” by Jonas Schafer.
“A herd of ibexes in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland cross a ridge above Lake Brienz. Their powerful and impressive horns show who the king of the Alps are. Ibexes are ideally adapted to live at dizzying heights. The continuing ridge path and the rising fog show the natural habitat of these animals. After a few hours of observing the animals, I spotted the ibex herd on one side of the ridge. Several ibexes stopped at the transition [to view the world around them].”
Photograph by Jonas Schafer / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
1st Place, People. “Showtime” by Huaifeng Li.
“Actors prepare for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. I spent the whole day with these actors from makeup to [stage]. I’m a freelance photographer, and the series “Cave Life” is a long-term project of mine. In China’s Loess Plateau, local residents dig holes in the loess layer [to create cave living spaces, known as yaodongs] and use the heat preservation properties to survive cold winters.”
Photograph by Jonas Schafer / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
2nd Place, People. “Daily Routine” by Yoshiki Fujiwara.
“This photo was taken at a public park at Choi Hung House in Hong Kong. When I visited during the afternoon, it was very crowded with many young people taking pictures and playing basketball. But when I visited at sunrise, it was quiet and a different place. [The area] is [designated] for neighborhood residents in the early morning, and there was a sacred atmosphere. I felt divinity when I saw an old man doing tai chi in the sun.”
Photograph by Yoshiki Fujiwara / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
3rd Place, People. “Horses” by Jose Antonio Zamora.
“Every year on the feast of Saint Anthony the ceremony of the purification of animals, called Las Luminarias, is celebrated in Spain. In the province of Avila, horses and horsemen jump over bonfires in the ritual that has been maintained since the 18th century. The animals [are not hurt], and it is a ritual that is repeated every year. To make the photo, I moved from Seville to San Bartolomé de Pinares because I am very interested in photographing ancestral rites.”
Photograph by Jose Antonio Zamora / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest
Honorable Mention, People. “Mood” by Navin Vatsa.
“I captured this layered moment during sunrise along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India. This boy was thinking silently, and visitors were enjoying the loud musical chirping of thousands of seagulls. The early morning golden light from the east mixed with the western blue light, creating a [ethereal atmosphere]. I am a regular visitor [here] and have photographed this place for the past three years. Now, many national and international photographers have begun visiting [too].”Photograph by Navin Vatsa / 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest

You can find a larger gallery of winning photos, including People’s Choice winners, on the National Geographic website.