In the age of Instagramming and Google Photos, everyone has become fixated on sharing special moments with the world through pictures. But rarely do we see a picture that completely paralyzes us due to a message it shares or because of its sheer beauty. Well, we’ve certainly got a treat for you.
The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year has just been announced, and with that announcement came a whole slew of jaw-droppingly beautiful images from other contestants too.
In addition to the ever-important exposure, NatGeo awarded the grand prize winner “a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.” Looks like Anthony Lau is about to go on the adventure of a lifetime.
All photos below are from the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest, and the submissions are freakishly beautiful. So prepare yourself to be amazed.
National Geographic has released their picks for the coolest photos of the year
Grand PrizeWinter Horseman
"The Winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. At a freezing temperature of minus twenty and lower with [a] constant breeze of snow... it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos. Not until I saw Inner Mongolia horsemen showing off their skills in commanding the steed from a distance. I quickly [grabbed] my telephoto lens and [captured] the moment when one of the horseman charged out from [the] morning mist."Photo and caption by Anthony Lau/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Nature First PlaceWherever you go, I will follow you!!
"Romance is in the air. It was the time of day immediately following sunset. I heard a voice. 'Wherever you go, I will follow you' the voice says."Photo and caption by Hiroki Inoue/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Cities First PlaceBen Youssef
"Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still, here was more quiet and relaxing [compared] to the street outside in Marrakesh. I was waiting for the perfect [time to take a] photograph for long time."Photo and caption by Takashi Nakagawa/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Nature Second PlaceDouble trapping
"Picture taken in the Brazilian Pantanal... when I downloaded the CF [I could not] believe it .... The nature knows we always give magnificent events but sometimes extraordinary"Photo and caption by Massimiliano Bencivenni/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
People Second PlaceRooftop Dreams, Varanasi
"I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30 a.m., I instinctively climbed the 7 sets of stairs to the rooftop (which happened to be the highest in the vicinity) to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River. As the sun was rising I looked over the right hand side of the balcony and my jaw dropped with disbelief. Below were families -- mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sister and dogs all sleeping on the top of their houses. It was mid summer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult."Photo and caption by Yasmin Mund/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Cities Second PlaceSilenced
"This photo was taken on my last trip to GuangZhou, China. This place is a school [dormatory] of South China Normal University. When I was hanging around, most of them were taking a break. After.. lunch time, they [needed] to go back to study. The dormitories were smelly and messy."Photo and caption by Wing Ka H./National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Nature Third PlaceLagunas Baltinache (Atacama Desert)
"The Baltinache Ponds, also called Hidden Ponds are a set of seven salt ponds located in the area of the Salt Cordillera, near San Pedro de Atacama, in the second region of northern Chile, in the Atacama desert. After much research, I believe to be the first photographer to publish night photos of this place, but it is still necessary to confirm this information. Tech Details: Photography done in one shot. Foreground was illuminated by the moonlight."Photo and caption by Victor Lima/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
People Third PlaceRemote life at -21 degree
"Kinnaura tribal old women in remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying big log back home to warm up her house."Photo and caption by Mattia Passarini/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Cities Third PlaceCelestial Reverie
"Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, capital of Penang state in Malaysia. It is symbolic of the rejuvenation that the city, famous for a unique blend of centuries-old buildings and modern structures... While many of its old neighbourhoods fell into neglect in the 1990s and early 2000s, UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation, and today, they are all part of a vibrant tourist destination." Photo and caption by Jeremy Tan/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest