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What makes a compelling travel photo?
It could be an image that depicts the magnificence of Mother Nature (say, a sunset’s rays beaming from above a mountaintop, reflecting on the sand below), or a peek into the life of a person (a nun bowed in prayer in a Burmese pagoda, or a young Omani boy standing behind the protective stance of his father, his lips curled into a shy smile). Or, perhaps a striking photograph is simply one we can all relate to (it turns out humans aren’t the only species to enjoy poolside sunbathing at a Mexican resort).
Above all, these images make us want to get up and go; they whet our appetite for the unknown and spark our curiosity. On the following pages, you’ll see the winners and honorable mentions of the 2019 TravelAge West Ninth Annual Reader Photo Contest. These travel advisors captured a variety of different subjects in destinations across the globe, and we believe they all emulate the profound intrigue, emotions and wonders of travel. We hope they inspire you to continue the important work that you do in 2020 and beyond.
First Place: Jerry Chinn, Sky Travel Network, Prescott, Ariz.“Staged and posed photos have a place. However, for travel photography, I prefer to tell the story of a destination through contextual subjects and situations. In doing that, I also balance spontaneity with envisioning and planning. One of my favorite examples of this process is shown in this photo.
Late one afternoon while vacationing in Los Cabos, Mexico, I saw a group of tourists riding horses along the beach. In my mind’s eye, I could imagine how beautiful a photo of them silhouetted against the setting sun could be. That’s when planning, patience and luck came into play. Over the next two days, as the sun was setting and my camera was ready to capture my imagined photo, I waited for the sun to touch the mountaintop and for the horses and riders to enter the frame at just the right time. When they did, I began shooting … one, two, 15, 20 shots. And, one perfect frame happened to capture the scene with a couple, walking hand in hand along the beach. Ole!”
Second Place: Marcia Dillon, Caprice Travel, Scottsdale, Ariz.“Myanmar is one of my favorite destinations, and I find myself returning there again and again. This September, I spent 3 ½ weeks traveling around the country. I always make time for multiple visits to Shwedagon Pagoda in the city of Yangon. Early in the morning, this nun was praying at one of the many altars at the pagoda. The sun was just rising, and the golden spires of the temple reflected in the marble floor at her feet. The monks and nuns come early to the pagoda, and you will find them quietly meditating — as this nun was doing — or chanting. The serenity and beauty of the pagoda are magical, and a must-see if you travel to Myanmar.”
Third Place: Doug Orens, Plaza Travel, Encino, Calif.“On a recent trip to Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Punta Mita, Mexico, we found that humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy relaxing in the sun. Every day around the pool, we were visited by local iguanas that just wanted to take advantage of the same beautiful setting we were enjoying.”
Honorable Mention: Craig Headman, Supreme Travel, San Francisco“Whenever I travel, it is with an eye for possible photos. I am not a birder, per se, because my vision doesn’t lend itself to that hobby. However, sometimes we just get lucky. I was having coffee with my friend, and this colibri (hummingbird) showed up in a nearby bush.
You rarely get a second chance to capture a photo of those guys, since they are as skittish as butterflies. But he stayed long enough for me to get a couple shots. This was taken along the coast of Oaxaca in Mexico, in the town of San Agustinillo.”
Honorable Mention: Marcia Dillon, Caprice Travel, Scottsdale, Ariz.“Last December, I traveled through the Middle East and was captivated by the country of Oman and its people. I was in Muscat, the country’s capital, and had heard that there was going to be a livestock auction in Nizwa, which was about 100 miles away. I hired a driver, and we set off at dawn to get to the auction.
There were hundreds of locals there who had brought in their goats and cows. This little boy smiled at me as I walked by, petting the goat his father had bought.”
Honorable Mention: John Scalise, J&J Travel, Homosassa, Fla.“This picture was taken on a flight to Fairbanks, Alaska, to visit Denali National Park. In the Athabaskan Koyukon language, Denali means ‘The Tall One,’ and at 20,310 feet above sea level, it certainly is. It is the tallest mountain in North America and the third-largest in the world, as well as a wonder to behold. As anyone who has tried to photograph The Tall One will tell you, Denali prefers to keep hidden away in a veil of clouds, so I felt especially privileged to witness this magnificent mountain with such clear skies. It’s an experience I will cherish forever.”
Honorable Mention: Doug Orens, Plaza Travel, Encino, Calif.“I navigated through the Lemaire Channel in Antarctica on Seabourn Cruises’ Seabourn Quest in January. We tried to get here the night before, but the seas were too rough. Luckily, our captain was determined to show us this beautiful spot. We arrived to find perfect conditions, and we were treated to these ever-changing colors for about 3 ½ hours, since the sun never really sets during that time of year.”
Honorable Mention: Marcia Dillon, Caprice Travel, Scottsdale, Ariz.“When I travel to Yangon, Myanmar, one of my favorite places to vist is Shwedagon Pagoda. It is the most sacred Buddhist stupa in Myanmar. Early mornings are very peaceful, even in the rain. This morning, it was softly raining, and I parked myself under an overhang. I watched the pagoda come to life as the pilgrims made their way around the massive structure. All you could hear was the rain and the quiet prayers of the pilgrims. The Shwedagon is referred to as ‘The Crown of Burma.’ The lights from the pagoda can be seen from most points around Yangon, but the magic of the pagoda can only be experienced when you walk around, sit quietly, hear the prayers of the people, smell the incense and experience this special place.
Honorable Mention: Jerry Chinn, Sky Travel Network, Prescott, Ariz.“Perhaps one of my favorite and most frequent travel destinations is southern Africa. I look forward to going, to photograph the wildlife and see nature in its most untamed and primal state. However, even the best photographs don’t truly capture how amazing it is to get up close to such beautiful creatures untamed, unstressed and behaving naturally.
During one of my latest safaris to Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana, I was able to photograph this prime example of a young female lion. She was walking between our safari vehicle and another one that was close by. As she did, she paid little notice to any of us excited visitors and our clicking cameras; instead, she appeared focused on her instinctual role as hunter and family provider.”