2019 Nat Geo Travel Photo Contest Winners
The winning images from the 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest have been revealed, and they are just as awesome as you would expect.
This year’s Grand Prize winner is photographer Chu Weimin, who earned the title for his image Greenlandic Winter, depicting the snow-laden village of Upernavik, Greenland. Claiming top spot in the Cities category, the judges awarded Weimin overall winner after years of photographing Greenland’s landscape – before venturing into photographing people and communities in 2019.
Perched above the village in -30°C conditions, Weimin was making the most of the colourful architecture nestled amongst the blankets of ice and snow. Waiting for people to appear, Weimin struck gold when a small family began to walk down the road and then snapped the winning image.
“It felt so harmonious. The whole land was covered by white, cold snow, and the blue tint at dusk made it even cooler. But the light from the windows, street lights, and the family of three made the world warm again,” Weimin said. “I love the contrast and mood of this scene. I was busy taking continuous pictures at that time, trying to capture the best moment.”
Weimin worked for three years as an engineer, before deciding to focus exclusively on photography. His breakthrough moment came when he was selected as editors’ choice in the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest.
There were two other categories in this year’s competition alongside “Cities”: “Nature” and “People”. First place for the Nature category was won by Tamara Blazquez Haik, who photographed a griffon vulture soaring above Monfragüe National Park in Spain. Huaifeng Li claimed the top spot in the People category, of actors applying makeup for a traditional opera performance in Licheng County, China.
Check out all the winning images below:
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHU WEIMIN / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
1ST PLACE – GREENLANDIC WINTER
“Upernavik is a fishing village on a tiny island in west Greenland. 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.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN TODOROV / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
2ND PLACE – IN THE AGE OF AVIATION
“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 afterward.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY SANDIPANI CHATTOPADHYAY / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
3RD PLACE – STREETS OF DHAKA
“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 TAMARA BLAZQUEZ HAIK / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
1ST PLACE – TENDER EYES
“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 DANNY SEPKOWSKI / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
2ND PLACE – DREAMCATCHER
“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 SCOTT PORTELLI / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
3RD PLACE – DUSKY
“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 HUAIFENG LI / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
1ST PLACE – SHOWTIME
“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. This series mainly records the life, entertainment, belief, labor, and other [daily] scenes of the people living in the caves.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY YOSHIKI FUJIWARA / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
2ND PLACE – DAILY ROUTINE
“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 neighbourhood 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 JOSÉ ANTONIO ZAMORA / 2019 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL PHOTO CONTEST
3RD PLACE – HORSES
“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.”
For more, head to the National Geographic website.