Winners of 2019’s Travel Photographer of the Year Awards

During an awards evening at the Fujifilm House of Photography in Covent Garden, London, the winners and runners up were announced for Travel Photography of the Year’s (TPOTY) 2019 competition. Over 20,000 images were submitted from 144 countries. Amateur photographer Katy Gomez Catalina is the first-ever Spanish overall winner and the second-ever female overall winner in the 17-year history of the awards.

TPOTY co-founder Chris Coe said: “Judging these awards, whilst arduous with so many excellent images to choose from, is always a joy and it is both exhilarating and stimulating to see the wealth of creativity evident from around the world. This year’s winning entries are outstanding in all categories, elegant and sometimes thought-provoking and gritty. The portfolio from the overall winner Katy Gomez Catalina is beautiful, sensitive and diverse. Only the second-ever female overall winner of Travel Photographer of the Year, Katy is an amateur photographer and a very, very worthy winner.”

The TPOTY awards were judged by an international panel of photography experts including Panamanian double Pulitzer Prize-winner Essdras M Suarez and Lawrence Jackson, a former official White House photographer under the Obama Administration. Winning images can be viewed at Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London from April 7th to May 12th. The exhibition will also appear at the South Transept of Chester Cathedral, in June, and at the Xposure International Photography Festival in Sharjah from September 17th – 20th.

It was incredibly difficult to select 15 images to display on this slideshow. All of the portfolios and individual winning images are nothing short of breathtaking, in this author’s opinion. I highly encourage you to visit TPOTY’s Winner’s Gallery and view them all.

Overall winner, Travel Photographer of the Year 2019: Katy Gomez Catalina, Spain

Credit: Katy Gomez/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Lake Mutanda, Uganda

Winner’s biography: Born in Ubeda, Spain Katy is an amateur photographer with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Her job is related to official control in public health, with focus on the interaction between human and animal health. A passionate travel photographer, Katy has visited more than 60 countries, and her images have been exhibited throughout Spain and also in France, UK, Germany, India, Iran and Colombia.

“I look at the world, not only to testify what I see, but mainly, to express a personal perspective, a point of view, an interpretation and not just a representation. My subjects are very varied being travel photography a common link in all my work. The camera has become an inseparable companion, I cannot see the world if it is not through the eyes of a camera, with these images I compose my travel story as a writer with his diary. I do not take pictures for others, but for me, for the pure pleasure of photographing. But, if I can also evoke an emotion in those who view them, my satisfaction is multiplied.”

About this photo: In 1991 the Batwa pygmies were expelled from their ancestral forest territories and now live under the yoke of misery, lost in an environment they do not understand and find it difficult to adapt to.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24- 105mm lens, f5.6, 1/160s, ISO 200

Winner, Young Travel Photographer of the Year 2019 aged 15-18: Ankit Kumar – India, age 16

Credit: Ankit Kumar/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Danum Valley in Borneo, Malaysia

Winner’s biography: Ankit Kumar began his journey in photography when he got his DSLR in 2015. Over the last four years, he has had the opportunity to travel to interesting locations in Africa and Europe, where he has taken wildlife and landscape pictures. Winning the Young Travel Photographer of the Year award in 2016 was a turning point in his passion for photography. It ignited in him a thirst for recording wildlife and the changing environment, with an eye towards conservation especially of hunted species and their disappearing world.

Since then, Ankit has won the Asian Geographic Youth Photographer of the Year 2017, was twice Highly Honoured by Nature’s Best Photography Asia in 2017, and Highly Honoured by Nature’s Best Photography in 2018. He is inspired by photographers such as Paul Nicken, Brain Skerry, Beverly Joubert and Keith Ladzinski, who care about the protection of animals and habitats. He also puts his photographic skills to use by supporting charities through an initiative that he, along with his sister have founded, called www.wayto.help.

About this photo: The clouds wrap around the trees in Danum Valley, Borneo.

Gear and specs: Sony A9, 100-400mm lens, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 2000

Winner, Art of Travel portfolio: Paul Sansome, UK

Credit: Paul Sansome/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Reykjavik, Iceland

Winner’s biography: Paul Sansome is a professional fine art and travel photographer based in the south of England and in Vietnam. His artistic photography is produced to the highest standards and his work, which is released in strictly limited editions, is intended to provide that special focal point. Paul is also an experienced photography tutor and has been leading photography holidays for over 15 years. Destinations have included Italy, Morocco, Kerala and Rajasthan in India, Iceland, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Paul started out as a landscape photographer but says “One of the compelling facets of photography is the diverse range of genres that we are able to give our attention to. I have always enjoyed the challenge of wildlife photography, particularly attempting to photograph birds in flight. More recently, much of my photography has been travel based and here the challenge is to portray the emotion of the subject or to tell a story. One common thread through these genres is that the timing of the shot is critical – a fleeting moment of light in the landscape, a moment of animal behaviour or the flash of emotion on a person’s face.”

About this photo: The mesmerizing modern architecture of the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland. This building provides endless photography opportunities both from inside and outside.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 6D MkII, 15mm F2.8 fisheye lens, f10, 1/60s, ISO 800

Highly Commended, Art of Travel: Ted Lau, Hong Kong

Credit: Ted Lau/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Pyongyang, North Korea

About this photo: Since the Mass Games resumed in 2018, all the school kids get involved. After months of training, most all of them are near- professional gymnasts.

Gear and specs: Nikon D850, 70-200mm lens, f8, 1/320s, ISO 2000

Special Mention, Art of Travel: Trần Tuấn Việt, Vietnam

Credit: Trần Tuấn Việt/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Ung Hoa, Hanoi, Vietnam

About this photo: A female worker collects bundles of incense in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Gear and specs: Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm lens, f/2.8, 1/1250s, ISO 200

Winner, Endangered Planet portfolio: Alain Schroeder, Belgium

Credit: Alain Schroeder/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Sibolangit, SOCP Quarantine Centre – Northern Sumatra, Indonesia

Winner’s biography: Alain Schroeder is a Belgian photojournalist. In 1989 he founded Reporters, a well-known photo agency in Belgium. He has illustrated over thirty books dedicated to China, Iran, the Renaissance, Ancient Rome, the Gardens of Europe, Thailand, Tuscany, Crete, Vietnam, Budapest, Venice, the Abbeys of Europe, Natural Sites of Europe, etc. Belgian book titles include Le Carnaval de Binche vu par 30 Photographes, and Processions de Foi, Les Marches de l’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse.

Publications include National Geographic, Geo, and Paris Match. He has won many international awards including a Nikon Japan award for the Who Will Save the Rohingya series, Travel Photographer of the Year 2017 and a World Press Photo 1st Prize Sport Stories, and participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide.

About this photo: Fahzren the orangutan is undergoing a routine medical check. Fahzren is 30 years old and comes from a zoo in Malaysia where he has lived since he was a baby. His medical condition is fine but he does not have the skills to survive in the wild.

Gear and specs: Fujifilm X-Pro2, 14mm lens, f3.2, 1/140s, ISO 1600

Winner, People & Cultures portfolio: Trevor Cole, Ireland

Credit: Trevor Cole/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Mundari, Terekeka county, South Sudan

Winner’s biography: Trevor Cole was born in the city of Derry, Ireland, but has lived most of his life outside the bounds of Ireland; in England, Singapore, Togo, Italy, Ethiopia, and Brazil. He returned to Ireland (Donegal) in 2012.

“My photography, together with travel, have become two of my life’s passions. My photography focuses predominantly on culture and landscapes; images which reflect a spatial and temporal journey through life and which try to convey a need to live in a more sustainable world. I seek the moment and the light in whatever context I find myself and endeavour to use my photographic acumen to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Capturing inimitable moments today to reflect upon tomorrow. My own ‘take’ as a geographer photographer!”

About this photo: Mundari Camaraderie. The bond between the tribesmen and their animals is reflected in the tribal bond itself. The smoke, fires and dust create a scene which is almost biblical. The symbiotic bond between man and the cattle is a scene to behold.

Gear and specs: Nikon D850, 70-200mm lens, f3.5, 1/125s, ISO 3200

Winner, Best Single Image in a People & Cultures portfolio: Debdatta Chakraborty, India

Credit: Debdatta Chakraborty/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Kolkata, India

About this photo: On the day of Chhath festival in India, Hindus, mainly the women, perform Dondi, a kind of penance to appease the divinity and thereby praying for a happier future.

Gear and specs: Nikon D750, 24-120mm lens, f5.6, 1/500s, ISO 800

Winner, Thrills & Adventures portfolio: Brian Clopp, USA

Credit: Brian Clopp/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Dugway Proving Ground – Utah, USA

Winner’s biography: Brian Clopp spent his birthday week in 2019 living amongst the Onaqui wild horses in harsh desert conditions, capturing these stunning images. On recent travels, his hard drive containing a year’s worth of photography was stolen when thieves hacked his rental car, but becoming a TPOTY finalist encouraged him to continue his art.

His portraiture photography subjects include President Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner, Jessie Jackson, James Earl Jones, and more. His work has often been featured as CNN’s Travel Photo of the Day. He is a ‘purist’ photographer who doesn’t edit his shots, striving to capture every setting perfectly.

Brian co-produced the Golden Globe nominated film ‘First They Killed My Father’ directed by Angelina Jolie. He recently completed his directorial debut on a short film about Penelope Stout, the first surviving settler of New Jersey, and the Lenape natives who save her life during a time of war. An Eagle Scout, Brian’s project instilled a collection drive in his small farm town of Cranbury NJ that continues to this day, collecting tens of thousands of winter clothes, hygiene items, and art supplies for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Now, Brian is co-launching The Giving Herb, a wellness CBD company that gives half to charity.

About this photo: To get this shot, I lived amongst the wild Onaqui herd for a week, camping out in a dusty desert environment. Here wild stallions battle dramatically for hierarchy, sending young foals scattering from the melee.

Gear and specs: Nikon D850, 600mm lens, f8, 1/3200s, ISO 640

Winner, Best Single Image in a Thrills & Adventures portfolio: Quanhou Lu, China

Credit: Quanhou Lu/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Xingjiang, China

About this photo: Transferring animals between pastures can take them on an adventurous route.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS-1DX Mk IIO, 24-70mm lens, f4, 1/320s, ISO 100

Winner, Dusk to Dawn: Sumit Dua, USA/UK

Credit: Sumit Dua/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Havana, Cuba

Winner’s biography: Sumit Dua is an amateur photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. By profession he is a doctor, and started photography during medical school. Initially his photography was done on a primitive digital camera borrowed from his uncle. “Photography helps me observe the world and find moments that I would otherwise miss. My passion for photography started with an impromptu trip through many regions of India and it still remains my favorite destination to photograph with its vibrant colors and old textures. My other hobby includes magic.”

About this photo: Walking around the streets of Havana after sunset I came across this ordinary scene where two neighbours were chatting. The. Lighting and colours reminded me of the ‘old master’ paintings.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mk III, 70-200mm lens, f2.8, 1/100s, ISO 3200

Commended, Dusk to Dawn: Lance McMillan, Canada

Credit: Lance McMillan/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Blue Pond, Biei – Hokkaido, Japan

About this photo: The larch and silver birch trees within the pond were once living, but are no more – the pond itself was artificially formed years ago as a result of the creation of a dam to protect from the effects of the nearby volcano at Mt. Tokachi. The site is illuminated at night, and the quietness on this chilly evening allowed me time to take in, and photograph, the beauty of the pond.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 35mm lens, 2.8, 2.5 sec, ISO 800

Winner, Oceans, Seas, Rivers, Lakes: Ignacio Palacios, Australia/Spain

Credit: Ignacio Palacios/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil

Winner’s biography: When it comes to photography and travel, few can rival Ignacio Palacios’ experience, skill, and passion. A third-generation photographer, Ignacio has been honoured with over 100 prestigious photography prizes and awards from around the world and has travelled to over 90 countries in his 22 years career. Born in Spain, Ignacio now calls Sydney Australia home – through his unmistakable Spanish spirit continues to influence his work and define his signature style.

Combining his love of travel and photography has proved a powerful combination, and today Ignacio leads photography tours to incredible destinations around the world. As an AIPP double Master of Photography, Ignacio shares his insight, experience, and technique with his clients to help them find their own success and joy on their photographic journey. Ignacio’s distinct, award-winning style can be defined by his mastery of composition, colour, and light. With his minimalistic style and unique ability to connect with his audience through storytelling. Through his images, Ignacio invites his audience to experience the subject not as how he captured, but how he experienced it, evoking an emotional connection between the viewer, subject and artist. Photography and travel will always be Ignacio’s passion, and he is dedicated to helping others ignite their passion too.

About this photo: A lonely tree survives the elements among the sand dunes. This image was shot from a light plane with the doors off.

Gear and specs: D850, Nikon 70-200mm, f8, 1/1250, 400

People’s Choice award and Winner, Street Life: Robin Young, Malaysia

Credit: Robin Young/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Old Havana, Cuba

Winner’s biography: Robin Yong is a multi-award-winning travel and commercial photographer, trained by the famous American photographer Jim Zuckerman, the world famous Venetian Masks Florine Houee and Danielle Massart, and legendary Hollywood photographer Greg Gorman. He enjoys traveling to exotic destinations to befriend and photograph the locals. He is best known for his work on the Omo Valley tribes in Ethiopia, the Venetian Masked models in Venice, the Bokator boxers of Cambodia and the Maikos of Kyoto. He calls these works his Travel Portraits, his Art of Travel Medicine. For most of his works, he does not use flash, reflectors or artificial lighting, depending solely on natural lighting alone. The photos are often dramatic, colourful and extremely beautiful. For Robin, every photo must look like a movie poster.

Over the past few years, Robin has quickly become one of the most popular and influential photographers at the Venice Carnevale and within the past few months, Flowers of Ethiopia alone has gathered numerous awards, finalist status and honourable mentions in many International photography competitions, including Alfred Fried Awards, Antu Sente Cup, Australia’s Top Emerging Photographers, International Photography Awards, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA), Istanbul Photo Awards, Moscow International Foto Awards, One Eyeland Awards. The Prix de la Photographie Paris, Sienna International Photo Awards, Tokyo International Foto Awards, Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) Awards, Xposure Awards etc. In just slightly more than two years, Robin’s travel photos have gathered more than 700 awards worldwide.

About this photo: A street scene in Old Havana, Cuba…the contrast of the young and the old, the rebellious and the wise…

Gear and specs: Canon 5DM3, 50mm lens, f/3.2, 1/80s, ISO 100

Winner, TAPSA: Kiran Ridley, UK

Credit: Kiran Ridley/www.tpoty.com

Photo location: Admiralty, Hong Kong

Winner’s biography: Kiran Ridley is an award-winning photographer based in Paris and working throughout Europe and Asia. Most of his work concentrates on news, social political topics and the human experience. Fascinated by people and naturally curious by the human condition, Kiran, is passionate in documenting ongoing situations throughout the world, capturing the human dynamic, seizing the unique moments that humans create, whether in our hopes and dreams, fears or our anger.

After picking up a camera for the first time at the age of 16, he was enthralled at the ability to capture and bear witness to history in the making and to tell the stories of the people within it. There started a journey of learning and discovery, embracing cultures and environments wherever he is, allowing him to blend in and become accepted, capturing distinct and intimate moments of those around him.

Now, his work is published throughout the world including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Times and The Financial Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Le Figaro, Le Point, Die Welt, El Pais, Forbes, Observer and Guardian newspapers, Time, Spiegel, Economist Magazine, GQ and Conde Nast amongst many others.

About this photo: A pro-democracy protestor throws a molotov cocktail towards police, setting fire to other protestors during anti-government demonstrations.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS1DX Mark II, 24-70mm lens, f7.1, 1/640s, ISO 1600

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