Travel: an enchanting pursuit that allows us to immerse ourselves in the vast tapestry of beauty and diversity that our world has to offer.
To celebrate the 2023 Travel Photography Award (open for entries until August 31), which will be judged by world-renowned photographer Steve McCurry, we’ve surveyed the winners, finalists, and outstanding submissions from our previous awards, and curated a collection of 10 stunning images that encapsulate the essence and joy of traveling.
1. ‘Fire of Faith’, Varanasi, India – Sudipta Dutta Chowdhury
A stunning image captured during the Maha Shivratri Festival In the Indian city of Varanasi, during which devotees, adorned as various deities from the Hindu Pantheon, reenact the divine wedding of Shiva and Parvati.
Captured and framed with impeccable timing, this kaleidoscopic image captures the spiritual fervor and joy of the occasion, showcasing the visual splendor of the event whilst offering a glimpse into the deep cultural traditions and devotion that underpin this unique celebration.
2. ‘Good Morning Mt Fuji’, Japan – Jirawat Plekhongthu
Photographer Jirawat Plekhongthu masterfully captures the awe-inspiring splendor of Japan’s most iconic peak. The vibrant autumnal maple leaves in the foreground add a pop of vibrant color, creating a captivating contrast against the serene winter landscape of pale blues and whites. The inclusion of a line of boats in the distance displays the immense scale of Mount Fuji, which rises dramatically from the line of clouds.
It is a wonderful image that encapsulates the essence of Japan‘s beauty, inviting viewers to embark on a journey of discovery. and stirs a deep longing to explore and experience the wonders that travel offers, as all great travel photographs do.
3. ‘The Last Andean Cowboys’, Colombia – Nicolas Castermans (Third Prize Winner, Travel Award, July/August 2022)
Selected as third prize winner of our previous Travel Award, Nicolas Castermans‘ depiction of a Vaquero and his grazing steed, set against the backdrop of the verdant peaks they call home, captures the profound bond between the pair, whilst conveying a sense of melancholy, reminding us of the delicate balance between tradition and progress. For the Vaquero’s cultural heritage, much like the rugged mountainous backdrop slowly fades into the horizon.
4. ‘Haldi Festival’, India – Donell Gumiran (Third Prize Winner, Travel Award, July/August 2020)
In his remarkable image, Filipino photographer Donell Gumiran captures the annual four-day Vittal Birdev Yatra festival in Pattan Kodoli, Maharashtra, wherein the village is transformed into a yellow-hued spectacle as clouds of turmeric fill the air in honor of deity, Vittal Birdev Maharaj. Gumiran’s expert use of a slow shutter speed and framing creates an ethereal effect, turning the festival attendees into a captivating amalgam of hazy golden shapes, thus imparting the unique essence of the festivity: tradition, devotion, and a stunning display of color.
5. ‘Folk Song’, Kyoto, Japan – Daniele Esposito (Finalist, Travel Award, July/August 2020)
A striking monochrome image that evokes the work of the greats of Japanese street photography, Italian photographer Daniele Esposito captured this absorbing scene amidst a folk parade, celebrating the cherry blossom season in Kyoto.
The skillful use of slow shutter speed infuses the photograph with a sense of movement, perfectly conveying the vibrant atmosphere of the festivities. Though amidst this flurry of activity- a brief connection, is made as the viewer’s gaze meets that of a girl locked for a fleeting moment, masterfully balancing the lively energy of the event with a singular, intimate encounter, resulting in a powerful image that embodies the essence of Japanese street photography and leaves a lasting impression on the viewer.
6. ‘The Hill’, Iceland – François Mille (Editor’s Pick, Travel Award, July/August 2022)
François Mille’s breathtaking image captures a pair of intrepid adventurers traversing the peaks of Icelandic mountains. Thanks to the aerial perspective, the viewer can appreciate the vastness and splendor of the region, as the rolling peaks, adorned in earthy hues, emerge from beneath a veil of clouds. It ignites a sense of wanderlust and adventure, serving as a powerful reminder of the profound beauty that exists in nature, and inspiring us to embrace the spirit of exploration and appreciate the wonders that await beyond our comfort zones.
7. ‘Eternal Sail’, Agra, India – Arun Hegden (Editor’s Pick, Color Award, April 2023)
A truly remarkable image that captures the unique allure of travel. Against the backdrop of a cold winter morning, Keralan photographer Arun Hegden captures a lone boatman gracefully navigating the serene waters towards India’s most iconic monument, bathed in golden light and morning frost. Masterfully composed, the still water acts as a mirror, reflecting the captivating silhouette of the world-famous edifice, and the deep blue of the sky, rendering an exquisite and almost surreal ambiance.
Photographs of the Taj Mahal are somewhat ubiquitous, but Hegden has created something truly unique, a captivating image that captures the essence of this remarkable moment, and evokes a profound sense of wanderlust, reminiscent of the greatest travel photographs
8. “Woman and Deer”, Yamal, Russia – Svetlana Guzeeva
Svetlana Guzeeva’s captivating image transports us to the remote Yamal peninsula a narrow strip of frost-covered land that stretches for some 700km of the northern coastline of Siberia. It is a land of incredible beauty yet extremely harsh conditions, and is home to the Nenets, a nomadic reindeer herding community, who live a life dictated by the rhythms of the seasons and the well-being of their herds.
In this photograph, we see a Nenet woman standing amidst her galloping reindeer companions. Bathed in the golden glow of the late afternoon light and an ethereal layer of mist resulting from the delicate layer of ground frost slowly dissipating under the hooves of the galloping reindeer, it has an ethereal almost painting-like quality, effortlessly capturing the essence of the moment, conveying the beauty and rigor of life on the world’s northernmost plains.
9. ‘Kuman Tribe’, Papua New Guinea – Chiara Felmini (Editor’s Pick, People Award, December 2022)
This striking portrait by Italian photographer Chiara Felmini, portrays a young member of the ‘Kuman’ tribe in Papua New Guinea, known for their eye-catching garments reserved for special occasions, such as the annual Monta Hagen Festival. Felmini’s composition defies the formal nature of traditional portraits, as she skillfully captures the young boy in a moment of introspection. Through her mastery of light and form, the photograph emanates a painterly quality, transcending the boundaries of the medium, and capturing both the cultural significance and individual essence of her subject.
10. ‘Nomadic life’, Western Mongolia – Alessandra Manzotti (Finalist, People Award, October 2021)
In the rugged plains of Western Mongolia, Alessandra Manzotti captures a young Kazakh nomad as he surveys his herd of Bactrian camels at the break of dawn. Guided by their innate sense of direction, the camels take the lead during winter migrations, gracefully traversing the rugged terrain without the need for herding.
It is a wonderful scene, the first rays of sunlight penetrate the night sky, casting a warm golden glow that traces the silhouettes of the majestic mountains in the backdrop towards which the camels embark in a single file. Meanwhile, in the foreground, our lone protagonist stands watchfully, akin to a king surveying his realm, with a blend of pride and humility. It is a wonderful image that stirs a feeling of intrepidity and showcases the profound beauty and cultural richness that grace our world.
All images © their respective owners
NB: The 2023 Travel Photography Photography Award is open for entries until August 31. Enter here.