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Photography and travel have gone hand in hand since the beginning of the medium, when some of the earliest images of faraway places and people captured the imaginations of would-be adventurers everywhere. Despite enormous technological changes, or maybe because of them, the relationship between photography and travel continues today. And, as evidenced by the images on the following pages — all of which were submitted by travel agents as part of TravelAge West’s first-ever reader photo contest — one doesn’t need to be a professional to capture some amazing moments.
The winners and honorable mentions on the following pages were selected by a panel of editors and designers from the TAW staff, a group accustomed to evaluating literally thousands of travel photos each year. Photo captions and information about who took the picture were not provided to the judges before they made their picks out of more than 70 photos submitted.
The judges were impressed by the quality of the photos submitted by our travel agent shutterbugs. We hope you enjoy these images as much as we did.
First Place: Andrew Browning, AdventureSmith Explorations, Playa de los Muertos, Panama
Browning explained that, in order to capture this photo, he had to be quick on the draw.
“This image was taken on a Panama and Costa Rica small-ship cruise. The cruise itself had many amazing activities, but this shot was taken during our visit to the Darien Jungle. We arrived to visit the Embera tribe, and I took this image within a minute or two of being ashore,” said Browning. “I knew that I had a great opportunity but also that I would need to act quickly. This man would soon be mixed in with other travelers, and I wanted to get a solitary shot of him on the gray sand beach. It worked out great.”
The judges agreed.
“This image works on so many levels,” said one judge. “Here we have a solitary man standing in a stark and somber landscape with a stoic look on his face. He looks very alone — as if he stepped out from another time. The viewer is then struck by the vivid red loin cloth, the man’s tattoos and his exotic necklaces. It makes the viewer wonder, ‘Who is this man? Where is he from? What is his story?’”
Second Place: Andrew Browning, AdventureSmith Explorations, Antarctica
2nd Place: Antarctica // © 2011 Andrew Browning, AdventureSmith Explorations
This photo was taken on a fam trip to the Antarctic peninsula with AdventureSmith Explorations — one of the company’s most popular destinations. Browning said he enjoys experimenting with scale and continues to hone his skills.
“I have traveled with professional photographers and other skilled amateurs, and I think that learning from others is really valuable,” he said. “Next time you travel, if you notice anyone taking some good shots, just watch what and how they are shooting. There can be some really unique things right in front of you, and it takes practice to notice and focus on those things.”
Third Place: Nathan DePetris, PRIDE Travel, Naples, Italy
3rd Place: Naples, Italy // © 2011 Nathan DePetris, PRIDE Travel
This striking photo of the Galleria Umberto in Naples, Italy, was taken while DePetris was exploring the city on his own during a Mediterranean cruise.
“I knew as soon as I saw the ceiling that this would be a wonderful photograph,” DePetris said. “The sun was just right, and the dome seemed to shine.”
Contest judges loved the symmetry of the photo, as well as how evocative it is.
“It says travel and adventure without being obvious or cliche,” said one judge.
DePetris has some advice for fellow travel agent shutterbugs.
“I would tell agents to make sure to remember to look up at the entire vista when deciding on a shot,” he said. “So many people forget to look up or down to get the whole picture.”
Honorable MentionsHere, in no particular order, are the best of the rest in the first-ever TravelAge West Reader Photo Contest:
1. Nathan DePetris, Pride Travel, Mosel River, GermanyPhotographer’s caption: “The Mosel River meanders around the town of Piesport, Germany, on a perfect fall afternoon.”
Judge’s comment: “Over the course of a year, we see dozens of shots that are similar to this one, so we should know a good European landscape when we see it — and this is a really exceptional take on a somewhat typical scene. The light is great, and the colors would really stand out in any magazine.”
2. Rick Pepin, Travel Travel, Grand Teton National ParkPhotographer’s caption: “This photo was taken at Schwabacher’s Landing in The Grand Teton National Park. Schwabacher’s Landing is a spot where — as you can see — you can get a nice reflection photo with the Tetons in the background. A little luck with no wind also helps.”
Judge’s comment: “This is a great capture — it has a wonderful sense of depth and a strong execution with a calm mirror-like reflection off of the lake.”
3. Craig Headman, Supreme Travel, Gayasan National Park, KoreaPhotographer’s caption: “This picture was taken in October 2011 in Gayasan National Park in Korea with a Pentax K20d camera.”
Judge’s comment: “This image is vivid and engaging without feeling cliche. The texture of the water is especially beautiful, making the image feel dynamic and artistic at the same time.”
4. Jason Holland, Travel Simplicity, Rangiroa, French PolynesiaPhotographer’s caption: “In an amazing show of light, the gray sky opened turning the blue world green and casting a brilliant rainbow across the water of Rangiroa, French Polynesia.”
Judge’s comment: “I love the vividness of the rainbow in this image. It looks as though it is lighting up the sky. The framing of the shot gives the bungalows an ethereal quality.”
5. Andrew Browning, AdventureSmith Explorations, Antigua, GuatemalaPhotographer’s caption: “This image was taken in Antigua, Guatemala, at one of the parks. The water in this photo is part of a centuries-old communal washbasin, and the water had settled at night with this brilliant reflection.”
Judge’s comment: “I think that this image is striking. What stands out for me is the stillness of the water and the bright yellow colors contrasting against what is otherwise a bleak cityscape. You can almost feel that this is an ancient place just by looking at the image.”
6. Jason Holland, Travel Simplicity, Copan Ruins, HondurasPhotographer’s caption: “The Copan Ruins in Honduras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to a number of brightly colored feathery friends, including this bright red macaw.”
Judge’s comment: “What is truly striking about this photograph is its attention to the most minute of details — the wrinkles encircling the parrot’s eye, the cracks crisscrossing its beak and the bird’s fluffy feathers standing on end. Likewise, the subject casts a piercing, scrutinizing stare. I feel almost as if it’s judging me, not the other way around.”
7. Nathan DePetris, PRIDE Travel, Volendam, The NetherlandsPhotographer’s caption: “Windmills dot the village of De Zaanse Schane, near Volendam, the Netherlands. I love the simplicity of this photo, having a larger object to one side lends a sense of depth, plus I’ve always been fond of water reflection shots.”
Judge’s comment: “This photo seems very simple, but it has great light and color, and the windmills against the sky give it a sense of motion. The shot also conveys the feeling of everyday life in a faraway place. I can really understand what it must have been like to be there the day he took the photo.”
1. Mosel River, Germany // Nathan DePetris, Pride Travel
2. Grand Teton National Park// © 2011 Rick Pepin, Travel Travel
3. Gayasan National Park, Korea// © 2011 Craig Headman, Supreme Travel
4. Rangiroa, French Polynesia// © 2011 Jason Holland, Travel Simplicity
5. Antigua, Guatemala // © 2011 Andrew Browning, AdventureSmith Explorations
6. Copan Ruins, Honduras// © 2011 Jason Holland, Travel Simplicity
7. Volendam, The Netherlands // © 2011 Nathan DePetris, PRIDE Travel