The Best Travel Photography of the Year

TravelAge West shares the year's best travel photography by travel agents By: Mindy Poder
Ha Long bay, Vietnam // © 2012 Lyell Clark
Ha Long bay, Vietnam // © 2012 Lyell Clark

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Click here for tips on photographing the Northern Lights.

To see all winning entries and honorable mentions in this year's Photo Contest, visit the TravelAge West Facebook page.

More Images

Clad in traditional clothing she wove herself, a Chinchero weaver focuses intently on a new design. At over 12,000 feet high, Chinchero has a long history of Peruvian textile craftsmanship. // (c) Nathan DePetris

Clad in traditional clothing she wove herself, a Chinchero weaver focuses
intently on a new design. At over 12,000 feet high, Chinchero has a long
history of Peruvian textile craftsmanship. // (c) Nathan DePetris

These ladies were exiting Jaisalmer Fort, India. // (c) Nancy Hartill

These ladies were exiting Jaisalmer Fort, India. // (c) Nancy Hartill

An obsessive compulsion to capture everything and an inability to leave the camera in the bag — these are the signs of a truly compelling travel experience. But even if the setting is glorious, the photo may not be. No matter the level of aperture mastery, a close-up of manicured toes against the blue backdrop of Bora Bora is still a picture of feet, while a portrait of a medieval church shrouded in spirits, or mist, can turn out to be little more than indiscernible gray gloom. The travel agent winners of our second annual Reader Photo Contest were, however, able to extend their powers of achieving travel gold from the business of planning to the art of photography.

The judges — a panel of TravelAge West’s editors and designers — chose these photographs from nearly 100 entries. We hope that these images invigorate your love of creating unforgettable travel moments.

First Place
Nathan DePetris, Pride Travel, Chinchero, Peru

She may not be looking at him but, for DePetris and the judges, it was  love at first sight.

“As soon as I snapped the photo, I knew I had something special,” DePetris said. “I also had a wonderful memory of the artisan who had created several of the pieces that I had purchased that day.”

The weaver, a woman from Chinchero, Peru, was not the only person focusing intently that day. For the portrait, DePetris used a telephoto lens which keeps the individual sharp while blurring the background. Due to the shallow depth of field, the textile craftswoman is defined and in focus.

“I love the colors and details in this photograph, from the lines on her face to the stitching on her shawl and hat,” said DePetris. “Looking at this photograph always brings a smile to my face.”

Second Place
Lyell Clark, Vacations Unlimited, Ha Long bay, VIetnam

Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is ripe with photo opportunities — it is special, exotic and beautiful. Clark, who was on a private tour with his wife’s family, was able to customize his trip to take advantage of photo opportunities, but he was also prepared.

“Snapshots are good for family memories, but a nicely visualized photograph is something you can be proud of and others will enjoy looking at,” said Clark. “I felt that the photograph had a lot of content and a story to tell.”

Judges agreed — to us, this image captures the spirit of discovery.

Third Place
Nancy Hartill, Travelstore, Jaisalmer, India

Throughout her 13-day Adventures-Abroad fam of Delhi, Mandawa, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur and Agra, Hartill was captivated by the colors of saris and salwar kameez.

“Many of the villages consisted of crowded stalls with mostly men in drab colors doing business by motorcycle, camel, donkey, bicycle cart or tuk-tuk, and what women I saw were the only semblance of color in the village outside of the vegetable stands,” said Hartill. “These women leaving Jaisalmer Fort added a splash of color to a bland wall.”

Honorable Mentions; Photographers’ Comments
1. Nelson Tseng, Northridge Travel Service, Iga City, Japan

A street vendor selling fish uses his hanging alien squid to attract customers in Iga City, Japan.

2. Andrew Browning, Adventuresmith Explorations, Andes, Ecuador

We drove nearly 16,000 feet on this trip and, during one of the days, we found some vicunas against the backdrop of the great Chimborazo volcano. This is the tallest mountain in Ecuador, and I was amazed that there is so much ice at the Equator.

3. Andrew Browning, Adventuresmith Explorations, Cusco, Peru

We had unbelievable weather during our guided Machu Picchu trip in September.  We had been traveling for about a week, and this high five was to celebrate the joy of arriving at the sacred site.

4. Rick Pepin, Travel Travel, Churchill, Canada

On my recent trip with Natural Habitat Adventures to see polar bears, we had stopped for lunch when this beautiful red fox was spotted just wandering around searching for his next meal. When we first spotted him, he was about 100 yards away; this photo was taken from about 50 yards away.

5. Pamela Blair, Pam’s Custom Itineraries, Gimmelwald, Switzerland

On a hike back down from Murren, Switzerland, where I had just come from parasailing into the alpine air, this stunning scene instantly grounded me. Surrounded by the snow-capped Jungfrau, Gimmelwald is composed of wildflowers and massive cabbages in perfectly plotted lush gardens; small meadows, wheelbarrows, woods and brambles; dark, rich soil and neat piles of freshly chopped wood stacked precisely against every charming residence — a Garden of Eden for nature lovers!

6. Lyell Clark, Vacations Unlimited, Prague, Czech Republic

A classic car parked on one of the many cobblestone streets of Prague’s Old Town. In the window is a sign offering sightseeing tours of the city.

7. Nathan DePetris, Pride Travel, Arizona, U.S.

The Navajo Steel Arch Bridge crosses Marble Canyon in Northern Arizona. The original bridge was built in 1929 and now only supports foot traffic, while the second, newer bridge was built alongside it in 1995 for modern-day automobiles.

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