Chosen from thousands of entries, National Geographic has unveiled the grand prize winner of the 2019 Travel Photo Contest. Weimin Chu’s winning photo, Winter in Greenland depicts the fishing village of Upernavik in northwestern Greenland. Historically, Greenlandic buildings were painted multiple colors, from red storefronts to blue fishermen’s homes—a useful distinction when the landscape is blanketed in snow. Today, colorful homes still dot the snowy landscape.
“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,” says Chu.
This year, the contest featured three categories: Nature, Cities and People. The photos were judged by a panel of expert photographers and National Geographic staff.
Greenlandic Winter by Weimin Chu
Grand Prize, Cities
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.
In the age of aviation by Jassen Todorov
Second Place, Cities
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.
Streets of Dhaka by Sandipani Chattopadhyay
Third Place, Cities
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 the 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.
Follow the Light by Junhui Fang
People’s Choice, Cities
This photo was taken at Seda Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. It’s around a 14-hour drive to get to Larung Gar [from the nearest city], and the journey is tough due to the mountainous roads. This view [shows] small red homes on the left, while empty green roads [curve] on the other side. The monks follow the lights to [return] home. I was lucky to document [the area] and was deeply moved by [the monks] faith.
Tender Eyes by Tamara Blazquez Haik
First Place, Nature
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.
Dusty Dolphins by Scott Portelli
Third Place, Nature
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.
King of the Alps By Jonas Schafer
Honorary Mention, Nature
A herd of ibexes in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland cross a ridge above Lake Brienz. Their powerful horns show who the king of the Alps are. Ibexes are ideally adapted to live at dizzying heights. The continuing ridge path and the rising fog show their natural habitat. After a few hours of observing the animals, I spotted the ibex herd on one side of the ridge.
Colorado River by Stas Bartnikas
People’s Choice, Nature
The Colorado River is very shallow due to the active withdrawal of water from it for agricultural purposes. When [the river] meets the ocean in Mexico, it is almost dry. This aerial photo was taken from a Cessna.
Showtime by Huaifeng Li
First Place, People
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. 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.
Daily Routine by Yoshiki Fujiwara
Second Place, People
This photo was taken at a public park at Choi Hung House in Hong Kong. When I visited during the afternoon, it was crowded with many young people taking pictures and playing basketball. At sunrise, it was quiet and a different place. [The area] is [designated] for neighborhood 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.
Horses by Jose Antonio Zamora
Third Place, People
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] in this annual ritual.
Mood by Navin Vasta
Honorable Mention, People
I captured this layered moment during sunrise along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India. This boy was silent, and visitors were enjoying the loud musical chirping of thousands of seagulls. The early morning golden light from the east mixed with the western blue light, created an [ethereal atmosphere].
How to train your Dragon by Leo Kwok
People’s Choice, People
People in Meizhou, China perform a fire dragon dance, showered by molten iron spewing firework-like sparks to celebrate the Lantern Festival. Showered by molten, firework-like sparks, people in Meizhou, China performs fire dragon dance. This celebration has been performed since the Qing Dynasty and was listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage in China in 2008. [The festival] marks the first full moon night in the Chinese lunar year.
The National Geographic Travel Photo Contest 2019 winners have turned in some truly stunning work this year.