Fourth Annual Reader Photo Contest

Fourth Annual Reader Photo Contest

Travel agents share their most memorable images in our reader photo contest By: Kenneth Shapiro
<p>The second place winner of our Fourth Annual Reader Photo Contest, Michael Costanzo of Avoya Travel, photographed Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand...

The second place winner of our Fourth Annual Reader Photo Contest, Michael Costanzo of Avoya Travel, photographed Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. // © 2014 Michael Costanzo

Feature image (above): Brian Mei of Eastern Travel's photo of Lawkaoushaung Temple in Myanmar won first place. // © 2014 Brian Mei


The Great Photographer Ansel Adams famously said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” These days, that could refer to using a variety of apps and filters to craft an image. But I think Adams is saying that in order to capture a truly memorable photo, you first need to put yourself in the right situation for a good shot.

The travel agents on the following pages did exactly that, by getting out of their offices and visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world. And they have the pictures to prove it.

Our group of editors and designers pored over dozens of photos and ultimately chose these shots as the best. Some photographers impressed us with their technical know-how, but more important was the spirit of travel and wanderlust captured in these images.

Here are the top photos, along with the photographers’ own words.

First Place
Brian Mei, Eastern Travel
Salt Lake City

“In October, I took an agent fam trip to Myanmar. It was my 12th time visiting the country since 2001. Bagan, the birthplace of Myanmar civilization, is a city beyond description. It is the largest archaeological site in Asia. There are more than 4,000 pagodas there — which makes for an overwhelming view. I took this photo at Lawkaoushaung Temple. My local guide told me that this location is known by only a few as a great spot to see the sunrise. It was quite an overwhelming experience watching the sun come up that morning, and I felt emotionally touched by the power of the sun and the land. I loved that sunrise in Bagan so much that I felt my soul had found its own dwelling.”

Photos & Videos
Lawkaoushaung Temple, First Place, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Brian Mei

Lawkaoushaung Temple, First Place, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Brian Mei

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Second Place, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Michael Costanzo

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Second Place, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Michael Costanzo

Couple in Monteriggioni, Italy, Third Place, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Laurel Leidner

Couple in Monteriggioni, Italy, Third Place, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Laurel Leidner

Lion at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Mika Azeta

Lion at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Mika Azeta

Camels in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Michael Costanzo

Camels in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Michael Costanzo

Hosteria Pehoe in the middle of Lake Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Mika Azeta

Hosteria Pehoe in the middle of Lake Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Mika Azeta

Mosel River, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Theadis Damewood

Mosel River, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Theadis Damewood

Donkey in Peru’s Sacred Valley, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Michael Costanzo

Donkey in Peru’s Sacred Valley, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Michael Costanzo

Burano, Italy, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Laurel Leidner

Burano, Italy, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Laurel Leidner

Bora Bora, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Steve Orens

Bora Bora, Honorable Mention, 2014 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2014 Steve Orens

Second Place
Michael Costanzo, Avoya Travel
Coto de Caza, Calif.

“Clear skies abounded, a rare occurrence during wintertime in the United Arab Emirates, and I was able to get a few pristine shots of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque before the rush of crowds. The sight of the mosque is a wonder, with its breathtaking architecture, marble mosaics and the stark contrast of white against the blue skies. To me, the mosque is an iconic symbol of the unexpected and wonderful experiences I have when I visit places with Arabic cultures. I was fortunate to be able to bring my teenage son on this trip and introduce him to different cultures. He came back with a much bigger worldview. Mission accomplished. Travel brings awareness through experience and changes you forever.”

Third Place
Laurel Leidner, Picture Yourself Traveling
Lake Arrowhead, Calif.

“Travel is about moments. Sometimes you come upon a scene that makes your jaw drop; other times you find something quite simple that touches your heart. This photo was taken in Monteriggioni, Italy, on a tour of Tuscany and Umbria. As we entered the main piazza, I saw this couple seated with their dog. What was probably an ordinary event in their lives became a magical moment for me. The tranquility and simplicity, as well as the rich colors of the setting, made me want to capture this charming scene.”

Honorable Mentions
Here are the rest of our top 10 photos in this year’s reader photo contest

1. Mika Azeta
BCD Travel, Nashville, Tenn.

“I was on a 12-day fam trip to Kenya, and we were in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Our group had not seen any lions, and on the last day we begged our driver to find some. Sure enough, we saw this family in the early morning. When I saw them, it completed my Africa trip.”

2. Michael Costanzo
Avoya Travel, Coto de Caza, Calif.

“Feeling great, we boarded our camels in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, and for some reason I noticed our shadows cast on the dunes, and I snapped this photo. The desert at sunset is a magical experience. To me, this photo is a memory of a peaceful and serene moment, the warmth of the powdery desert sand on your bare feet on a winter’s evening.”

3. Mika Azeta
BCD Travel, Nashville, Tenn.

“I created my own itinerary to visit Patagonia, Chile. The trip was great, and I visited so many amazing national parks there. This photo, of Hosteria Pehoe in the middle of Lake Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park, is one of the best pictures that I took. People in Patagonia were so nice — I would love to buy a house there.”

4. Theadis Damewood
Lisell Travel, Plano, Texas

“Oh, the beauty of fall on the Mosel River! This view is from Reichsburg Cochem Castle, which overlooks Cochem, Germany. The vineyards, with the winding Mosel below, just capture the essence of fall. My husband and I were fortunate to be able to go on an AmaWaterways river cruise. What a way to see autumn unfurl.”

5. Michael Costanzo
Avoya Travel, Coto de Caza, Calif.

“After arriving in Peru’s Sacred Valley with the help of a local driver, I began exploring many of the small villages in the area. In this photo, the driver had dropped me off with his cousins and drove off to the next town. I walked a few miles with these local farmers, and we chatted about their lives, their beliefs and how they chose to live simply off the land.”

6. Laurel Leidner
Picture Yourself Traveling, Lake Arrowhead, Calif.

“This photo was taken on my second visit to the island of Burano near Venice, Italy. This trip, I decided to explore the streets beyond the main piazza and canal. Something as ordinary as clothes hanging on a line became part of a beautiful tapestry of color and texture in this scene.”

7. Steve Orens
Plaza Travel, Encino, Calif.

“After a relaxing day at The St. Regis Bora Bora, we had the pleasure of dining at Lagoon, the resort’s restaurant by Jean-Georges. The sunset was so spectacular that even the staff at the property came out to take some photos.”

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