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Once a year, the editorial and art staff at TravelAge West happily turn over the pages of the magazine to our readers. Going through the many images that are submitted to our photo contest is inspiring — and a bit humbling — as we get to see the depth of our audience's talent. Photos like the ones on the following pages perfectly capture the excitement of travel and the sense of wonder that comes from discovering unique people, places and wildlife around the world.
First PlaceMarcia DillonCaprice Travel, Scottsdale, Ariz.
“This photo was taken in September in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. We had stopped at a local market, where this woman — a member of the Hamer tribe — was shopping. The weekly trip to the market is a large social scene, and she was dressed in her finest attire.
“Photography and travel are a perfect match. I travel with a Fuji XT-1 mirrorless camera with five to seven lenses, a tripod, a flash, filters and many flash cards. I always have extra cameras with me. I take thousands of photos on a trip and then turn them into books or video presentations.”
Second PlaceLeslie WahlgrenKahala Travel, San Diego
“This was taken in February in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. I love this photo because the subject was one of my two guides. Our main guide was talking to our small group, and this boy wandered off to the side. In that moment, he seemed deep in thought, and time seemed to stand still as the grass danced in the wind.
“Taking the time to notice and appreciate something so subtle enhances the way I view the world. The more I travel, the more I focus on what matters most, which is living in the moment.”
Third PlaceDoug OrensPlaza Travel, Encino, Calif.
“This photo was taken in Xian, China, on top of the 14th-century city wall. We were exploring the wall and turned the corner to see this bride in the midst of a pre-wedding photo shoot. Her photographer was in front of her, below the wall, shooting up with the sky in the background. I liked this angle much better with the red lanterns along the side matching the striking red of her dress. I think the poor air quality adds an interesting contrast to the beauty of the bride.
“I was somewhat far away when I captured this image, and due to the compression caused by the zoom, the lanterns appear much closer together than they actually were, resulting in a lot more red along the left side of the picture.
“For me, taking photos is a great way to capture details that we might otherwise miss of the amazing places we’re lucky enough to visit. Quite often — as was the case with this photo — I’ll turn a corner, see something beautiful, and take a quick picture.”
Woman in Omo Valley, Ethiopia, First Place, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Marcia Dillon
Guide in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana, Second Place, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Leslie Wahlgren
Woman in Xian, China, Third Place, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Doug Orens
Priest in Lalibela, Ethiopia, Honorable Mention, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Marcia Dillon
Giraffes in Kenya, Honorable Mention, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Debbie Purdy
Flamingo in Bolivia, Honorable Mention, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Craig Headman
Hiking Easter Island, Honorable Mention, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Jacob Marek
Monument Valley, Utah, Honorable Mention, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Craig Headman
Iguana on Isabella Island in the Galapagos, Honorable Mention, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Leslie Wahlgren
Ensenada, Mexico, Honorable Mention, 2016 TravelAge West reader photo contest // © 2016 Lauren Liebert
Marcia DillonCaprice Travel, Scottsdale, Ariz.
“We spent a lot of time in this church in Lalibela, in northern Ethiopia, watching the priest interact with his visitors. After his last blessings, our guide asked him to move into the light. He moved to his seat by the window, where he would sit during the day — clutching the Coptic cross and watching the pilgrims on the path below.”
Debbie PurdyCruise Holidays, Arvada, Colo.
“I captured the photo of these beautiful giraffes in Kenya's Samburu National Park. With the background of Ololokwe, a large table mountain, I knew this was a photo opportunity I didn't want to miss. As we approached, the smaller giraffe moved over to join the taller one — as if it knew I was going to take their photo. This was my fourth trip to Africa, and it just never gets old!”
Craig HeadmanSupreme Travel, San Francisco
“I was part of a group trip with Intrepid Travel going from Bolivia to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We had already passed through the Uyuni Salt Flats, which had been perhaps the main reason for the trip, but the region of southwest Bolivia proved to be another highlight. There are lakes of varying hues, many with shorelines of either salt or borax, and almost all the lakes had these beautiful flamingos. I almost missed lunch because I was so busy snapping flamingo shots.”
Jacob MarekIntroverTravels, Sioux Falls, S.D.
“On a recent small-group hike, we explored Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island. I find Rapa Nui so fascinating because it is a story of an island gone terribly wrong: an entire culture, religion and ecosystem that collapsed in a matter of decades, surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean in all directions, making it hauntingly remote. Today, visitors can see vestiges of a once-great civilization and experience history, culture and nature in a unique setting.”
“This panoramic view features some of the many exotic rock formations in Monument Valley, Utah. We entered the valley on a rather foggy morning in early April. I was a bit disappointed, as I like a nice sky when I'm snapping photos. But as we drove the circuit, stopping so many times for more photos, the fog burned off and a bit of sun shone through. I managed to capture a variety of landscapes, and it turned out to be pretty good day after all.”
Leslie WahlgrenKahala Travel, San Diego
“Hiking around Isabella Island in the Galapagos, I trailed behind my Lindblad Expeditions' group as I was constantly stopping to take photos. There seemed to be hundreds of marine iguanas piled on top of each or huddled in groups, but I noticed this iguana off by himself just staring at me. He had strayed away from his group — just like I had with my group. So I crouched down and prepared my camera to take his photo, and just at the precise moment, he stuck out his tongue. It was perfect. He certainly wasn’t shy about letting me know what he thought about having his photo taken.”
Lauren LiebertTicket to Travel, San Jose, Calif.
“Not long ago, I attended a Seminar at Sea with my agency on Carnival Imagination. As part of that trip, we took a private tour to the wine region of Ensenada, Mexico. One of the wineries we visited was the lovely La Casa de Dona Lupe. While we were exploring the property, we came across this gentleman doing a reenactment of the Aztec call to the gods for food and water. I love how this picture spotlights a part of Mexico's rich history. There is much more of Ensenada to discover, if you only look.”