National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012




Photo and caption by Cedric Houin

This image was shot in the Kyrgyz lands of the Wakhan Corridor. The intimacy of this everyday life moment, shot inside of a family yurt, is in total contrast with the harsh environment these nomadic tribes live in. On the right we notice a television and a sound console. These tribes live weeks away from any village by foot. In spite of being located at an altitude of 4,300 meters in one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan they are equipped with solar panels, satellite dishes and cellphones. Ancestral ways of living, with touches of modernity.National Geographic contributing photographer Alexandra Avakian, one of this year's judges, shares her thoughts on the first place winner:The light and texture captured in this portrait are painterly, and the predominance of red is rich. The content of the photo is striking because the photographer captured both the nomads’ traditional way of life and some of their modern accouterments—the viewer gets the visual satisfaction of something that goes against cliché. Triangle shapes tend to add dynamism to photos. In this picture they appear in several places, including the main subject’s knee, elbow, and white scarf.

I’ve slept in the guest yurt of Kyrgyz nomads in remote mountains while on assignment for Elle magazine; the location is hard to reach and off the beaten path for most travelers, and therefore of educational as well as aesthetic value.

Location: Wakhan Corridor Afghanistan


My Balloon

Photo and caption by Vo Anh Kiet

H'mong children play with their balloons on a foggy day in Moc Chau, Son La province, Vietnam; photographed January 2012.National Geographic contributing photographer Alexandra Avakian, one of this year's judges, shares her thoughts on the second place winner:This picture is like a dream, and it’s timeless not only because it’s black and white and there’s no sense of modernity, but also because it depicts an activity that children everywhere on the planet do with balloons. The fog and soft background make it feel like a memory. It’s every bit as good as the photographs in the seminal black-and-white photo book, "The Family of Man." Sometimes the best scenes to shoot are not in the obvious places for travelers but can be found anywhere from a far-flung location—such as this remote Hmong village—to just the around the corner from a big event.

Location: Moc Chau, Son La province, Vietnam



Photo and caption by Andrea Guarneri

During the Easter holy celebration called “Misteri” in Trapani, the devotees carry the scenes of Christ’s passion on their shoulders all night long. When the day comes they take a break.National Geographic contributing photographer Alexandra Avakian, one of this year's judges, shares her thoughts on the third place winner:The light on the icon of Jesus is as critical to the success of this picture as the varied expressions on the men’s faces after an exhausting night carrying statues depicting the Passion of Christ. Recognizing when and how to balance different kinds of light in the same photo is something that can make the difference between a muddy and uninteresting picture and one that’s good, aesthetic, and full of content. This picture was taken at the port in the tuna-fishing town of Trapani, Sicily—a land known for its religious processions. The photographer was working at dawn to take this shot, often a necessity in any coverage of a place and/or event.

Location: Trapani, Sicily, Italy


Looking Into Another World

Photo and caption by Fred An

"This is the great Japanese maple tree in the Portland Japanese Gardens. I tried to bring a different perspective of this frequently photographed tree."

Location: Portland, OR


Lost in Time - An Ancient Forest

Photo and caption by Ken Thorne

Near the city of Morondava, on the West coast of Madagascar lies an ancient forest of Baobab trees. Unique to Madagascar, the endemic species is sacred to the Malagasy people, and rightly so. Walking amongst these giants is like nothing else on this planet. Some of the trees here are over a thousand years old. It is a spiritual place, almost magical.

Location: Avenue du Baobab, Morandava, Madagascar.


Underwater Surf

Photo and caption by Lucia Griggi

Taken at Cloud Break at an outer reef in Fiji, a surfer duck dives his board to clear the rolling waves of the raw ocean.

Location: Cloudbreak, Fiji, Pacific Ocean.

See more of Lucia Griggi's work here.


Bagan Bliss

Photo and caption by Peter DeMarco

More than 2,000 Buddhist temples and pagodas fill the plains of Bagan. Once the capital of the Pagan Empire, farmers now raise their livestock within the centuries old complex. The best way to see Bagan, apart from a ride on a hot air balloon, is by bicycle. It's easy to get off the beaten path and live out your wildest Indiana Jones fantasy.

Location: Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)


Old Men With Djellaba

Photo and caption by SauKhiang Chau

The Last Supper Of Da Vinci? No, They are just some old men of Chefchaouen with djellaba, sitting and talking each other.

Location: Chefchaouen, Morocco


The Village of Gásadalur

Photo and caption by Ken Bower

The village of Gásadalur and the island of Mykines in the background.Until a tunnel was built in 2004, the 16 residents living in Gásadalur had to take a strenuous hike or horseback over the steep 400 meter mountain in order to make it to the other villages.It was a rare sunny day in the Faroe Islands and I had to wait until the clouds rolled in to provide some softer light. I decided to go with a long exposure (1 minute 10 seconds) to illustrate the force of the wind and a serene sea among the isolated islands.

Location: Gásadalur, Faroe Islands


Swimming in the Rain

Photo and caption by Camila Massu

My sister in the south of Chile. We are sitting at home next to the fireplace in our southern lake house when it suddenly began to pour uncontrollably. Had to rush into the lake to take this snapshot!

Location: Lago Caburgua, Chile



Photo and caption by Michelle Schantz

A lonely cabin is illuminated under the Northern Lights in Finnmark, Norway.

Location: Finnmark, Norway

Gorgeous photographs! Which ones are your favourites?

Lei xx