Gorgeous Images From National Geographic's 2017 Travel Photographer Competition


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

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. Sergio Tapiro Velasco/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

National Geographic has announced this year’s winners of their 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year competition. As ever, this year's entries are totally and utterly breathtaking.

Out of over 15,000 entries from over 30 different countries, the grand prize was awarded to a shot of a volcano erupting at night as a flash of lightning strikes it (image above). Sergio Tapiro Velasco took his grand prize-winning photo, titled “The Power of Nature,” of Volcán de Colima from around 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) away just outside the city of Colima in Mexico.


Remarkably, he had no idea if he’d actually captured the perfectly-timed flash of lightning until he reviewed his photographs later on.

“When I looked on the camera display, all I could do was stare,” said Velasco. “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.”

As the top prize winner, he takes home $2,500 prize money and a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions.

"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. Rodney Bursiel/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year


"Mt. Bromo." Mount Bromovolcano 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. Reynold Riksa Dewantara/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. Shane Gross/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Marble Caves." The marble caves of Patagonia. Clane Gessel/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

The contest this year broke down entries into three categories: Nature, People, and Cities.  

“The quality of submissions in the 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year contest was wonderfully eclectic,” added head judge and senior photography editor at National Geographic Molly Roberts. “I was inspired by the variety of locations and creativity of the photographers in their quest to make compelling images.”

You can check out the full winners’ gallery here along with a selection of the competition’s best below. You can also see last year's equally impressive selection here.

"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. Yutaka Takafuji/ 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 at 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. Misha De-Stroyev/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Crocodiles at Rio Tarcoles." This image was captured in Costa Rica when I was traveling 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. Tarun Sinha/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Al Ain." New city on the desert. Andrzej Bochenski/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year 


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