Feast your eyes upon the winners of National Geographic’s Travel Photographer of the Year awards

A few times every year National Geographic stops the clock on the world of photography. The two main prizes they run are the Nature Photographer of the Year Competition and the Travel Photographer of the Year Competition.

We get to see who won the latter today.

Quite possibly the most prestigious photo competition in the world, the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year award never ceases to amaze.

Check out the winners in each category below:

Grand Prize Winner

A powerful eruption illuminates the slopes of Mexico’s Colima Volcano on December 13, 2015. I was in the town of Comala when I suddenly saw incandescence above the volcano’s crater and started shooting. Seconds later, a powerful volcanic explosion expelled a cloud of ash particles and a massive lightning bolt illuminated most of the dark scene. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

The Power of Nature by Sergio Tapiro Velasco

Second Place Winner, Nature

Swans glide over the water in Kabukurinuma, Osaki, Japan, a protected wetland. Since many of Japan’s wetlands have been lost, this area has become a rare wintering place for birds and may be a last paradise for them. I was particularly impressed by the swans, and careful not to disturb them when taking pictures. I took into account wind direction and shutter speed to capture the strength and elegance of their flapping wings.

To Live by Hiromi Kano

Third Prize Winner, Nature

American crocodiles gather along the bank of the Tarcoles River in Costa Rica. When our guide told us there would be 30 to 40 crocodiles in the river, we thought he was exaggerating. We walked along a narrow bridge and peered over the waist-high railing, where several crocodiles were moving in and out of the water. I wanted to capture the stark contrast between their partially covered bodies in the river verses their enormous size while on full display.

Crocodiles at Rio Tarcoles by Tarun Shina

People’s Choice Winner, Nature

A buff-tailed coronet feeds on flower nectar in the Ecuadorian forest, a paradise for hummingbirds.

Buff Tailed Coronet by Hymakar Valluri

First Place Winner, People

Beams of light filter through a historic building in Konya, Turkey, where a whirling dervish performs an ecstatic dance. The ceremony represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent towards truth and love, and represents the constant revolution of all living things. For example, the Earth itself is in a state of rotation as well as the atoms that make up everything on it.

Workship by F. Dilek Uyar

Second Place Winner, People

A crowd of spectators stands in front of Rembrandt’s masterpiece, Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. As I observed the scene I laughed when I realised that the people in the painting also appear to be curiously watching the visitors. I managed to take two shots before the audience moved away – one is out of focus, but this one was perfect.

Interesting Moment. by Julius Y.

Third Place Winner, People

I recently traveled to Tavarua, Fiji, with professional surfer Donavon Frankenreiter and captured this image at Cloudbreak. The usual surf shots have all been done, so we decided to get creative and looked for new angles and perspectives.

Under the Wave by Rodney Bursiel

People’s Choice Winner, People

This photograph was taken from the bank of The river Dhaleswari in Munshiganj, Bangladesh during sand porters were carrying sand to preserve them on a place near the river.

Sand Porter by MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan

First Place Winner, Cities

Natural light fills the modern interior of the city library in Stuttgart, Germany. With its stark white floors, open spaces, and large windows, it provides a unique atmosphere to broaden your knowledge.

Levels of Reading by Norbert Fritz

Second Place Winner, Cities

An aerial view of Whampoa Garden, Hong Kong, reveals its densely packed buildings. I drew inspiration from the Kowloon Walled City – once the densest place on Earth – which was demolished nearly three decades ago. Hundreds of houses were stacked on top of each other and there was very little open space. The Kowloon Walled City may be gone, but its legacy remains. It exists in Hong Kong’s modern architecture and stacked apartments, which have been built to accommodate the masses.

Walled City #08 by Andy Yeung

Third Place Winner, Cities

In Norway’s Lofoten Islands, the Henningsvær football field is considered one of the most amazing in Europe. This photo was taken during a sailing trip from Tromsø to the Lofoten Archipelago. After a week of cold and rainy weather, the sky finally cleared up enough to fly my drone. We were absolutely astonished to learn that the entire football field is heated, so after lying down and soaking in the warmth, I launched my drone and took this photo from a height of about 390 feet (120 meters).

Travel Photographer of the Year
Henningsvær Football Field by Misha De-Stroyev

People’s Choice Award, Cities

As night falls over Bangkok, Thailand, rows of rainbow-colored market stalls come to life.

Colourful Market by Kajan Madrasmail


See the rest, including honourable mentions, on National Geographic.