Winners Of The 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest Have Been Announced

National Geographic has become synonymous with photography, with the magazine always showcasing the outstanding beauty and wonder of our planet. So naturally, their annual photo contest is a prestigious and hotly-contested event, with judges having thousands of breathtaking images to narrow down, to find the eventual winners.

This year’s grand prize winner was Jassen Todorov, whose aerial shot shows the vast boneyard in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. The area is well known for storing retired aircraft, where the dry air keeps corrosion away before they are eventually dismantled and scrapped for parts. What many are unaware of, however, is the huge stretch of land nearby that is set aside for recalled vehicles and is filled with row-upon-row of Audis and Volkswagens that cheated emissions tests between 2009-2015. “These cars are just sitting out there and collecting dust,” Todorov said, “By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious and more caring for our beautiful planet.”

Other winners included Pim Volkers’ epic capture of wildebeests crossing Tanzania’s Mara River, which took the Wildlife prize, while Mia Collis’ portrait of a Kenyan photographer took first place in the People category. You can scroll down below to check out all the winners below, and don’t forget to vote for your own favorites! For more breathtaking photos from National Geographic photo contests, check out these here and here.

GRAND PRIZE winner: UNREAL, JASSEN TODOROV

Image credits: National Geographic

Thousands of Volkswagen and Audi cars sit idle in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert. Models manufactured from 2009 to 2015 were designed to cheat emissions tests mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Following the scandal, Volkswagen recalled millions of cars. By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious of and more caring toward our beautiful planet.

SECOND PLACE, PLACES: THUNDERBIRD IN THE DUST, NICHOLAS MOIR

Image credits: National Geographic

A rusting Ford Thunderbird is blanketed by red dust from a supercell thunderstorm in Ralls, Texas. The dry, plowed fields of the Texas Panhandle made easy prey for the storm, which had winds over 90 miles an hour ripping up the topsoil and depositing it farther south. I was forecasting and positioning a team of videographers and photographers on a storm chase in Tornado Alley—this was our last day of a very successful chase, having witnessed 16 tornadoes over 10 days.

THIRD PLACE, PLACES: ROAD TO RUIN, CHRISTIAN WERNER

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While on assignment for Der Spiegel, we made a road trip through Syria to document the current situation in major cities. When I first entered the Khalidiya district in Homs, I was shocked. To make this image, I asked a Syrian soldier in charge of the area if I could climb onto a ruin. The soldier agreed, allowing me to climb at my own risk. I climbed up the ruins of a former house—which was full of improvised explosive devices—and took the picture.

HONORABLE MENTION, PLACES: SNOWFLAKES, RUCCA Y ITO

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Japan’s Blue Pond in Biei-cho, Hokkaido, has become very famous for attracting tourists from around the world. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and trees. This pond, frozen during winter, was artificially made to prevent river contamination from the nearby active volcano, Mount Tokachi. The accumulated pond water contains high levels of minerals, such as those containing aluminum. The alluring view of the blue pond can take one’s breath away.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE, PLACES: COTTON CANDY, FOG WAVES, DAVID ODISHO

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Waves of fog sweep through Marin County on a summer day, blanketing of Mount Tamalpais.

FIRST PLACE, WILDLIFE: FLYING AT THE CROSSING, PIM VOLKERS

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It was early morning when I saw the wildebeests crossing Tanzania’s Mara River. The layering of dust, shade, and sun over the chaos of wildebeests kicking up water gives this picture a sense of mystique and allure. It’s almost like an old painting—I’m still compelled to search the detail of the image to absorb the unreal scene.

SECOND PLACE, WILDLIFE: DEEP SNOW, JONAS BEYER

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A few miles from Qaanaaq (Thule), Greenland, I was hiking in search of musk oxen when I saw a group of them. This ox was running hillside in deep snow, which exploded underneath it. I was lucky enough to be at the right spot to see them frolicking, and I watched them closely for about an hour. I love photographing musk oxen against the wintry landscape: They’re very tough Arctic survivors. This photo shows their beauty and power—and the snow they deal with for about eight months of the year.

THIRD PLACE, WILDLIFE: A NEW LOOK, ALISON LANGEVAD

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Late at night, two southern white rhinoceroses emerged from the shadows to drink at a watering hole in Zimanga Game Reserve. They were back to back, observing their surroundings before lowering their heads. I underestimated the emotional impact the incredible beasts would have on me. They had been dehorned to deter poachers. I was full of emotion—and horror—that poaching had such a devastating effect. It must have been a hard decision to dehorn them, and I am grateful for the reserve’s efforts.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE, WILDLIFE: BABY TEETH, YARON SCHMID

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We spotted a pride of lions sleeping on top of the kopjes in the Serengeti. As we approached the rocks, we saw quite a few cubs. The best moment was when three young cubs started playing and biting their mother’s tail—like kittens playing with yarn. I can’t remember a time I laughed so hard!

FIRST PLACE, PEOPLE: SUNDAY BEST AT WEEKEND STUDIO, MIA COLLIS

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This photo of David Muyochokera was taken on his last day working as a photographer at Weekend Studio in Kibera, a large shantytown in Nairobi, Kenya. David had worked there for 37 years, but Weekend Studio was about to close permanently. David explained that with cameras now on phones, demand for his work had dwindled. I was troubled by the studio’s imminent closure, so I eventually took over the rent. A portrait of David now hangs at Weekend Studio in his memory.

SECOND PLACE, PEOPLE: ROADSIDE MOTEL, TODD KENNEDY

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On a family holiday driving from Sydney to Uluru, we stopped at a roadside motel in the small rural township of Nyngan, on the edge of Australia’s outback. The area is in the wheat belt, and it was unusually hot for that time of year—over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit and very dusty. Our daughter, Genie, is seen here enjoying a refreshing bath in a rubber ducky perched on the sink.

THIRD PLACE, PEOPLE: LOVE OF LIFE, AVISHEK DAS

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A Hindu devotee kisses his newborn baby during the Charak Puja festival in West Bengal, India. Traditional practice calls for the devotee to be pierced with a hook and sometimes swung from a rope. This painful sacrifice is enacted to save their children from anxiety. While covering the festival, I was able to view the religious practice from the perspective of Hindu devotees. I tried to capture the moment of love between a father and his child—and show a father’s concern for his little son.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE, PEOPLE: DAY OF THE DEAD, BUCK HOLZEMER

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A Day of the Dead procession winds through the streets of Antigua, Guatemala.

People’s Choice: MID SHED, MIKE DEXTER

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CHAMELEONS SHED THEIR SKIN REGULARLY THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES BUT, UNLIKE SNAKES, IT PEELS OFF IN BITS AND PIECES RATHER THAN AS A WHOLE. This flap necked chameleon, mid shed, was tentatively making its way across an open sandy area putting itself at great risk from predators. My aim was to capture an image that depicted the vulnerability of the situation so I lay down, transporting myself into its world.

People’s Choice: AN ASTONISHING CHASE, THOMAS VIJAYAN

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After many days of following a cheetah on the second last day of my trip this cheetah target a gazelle cub and started running towards the gazelle exactly the way i wanted and I was able to capture it running in between the black grass with a dust forming behind its legs creating a magical frame. But the end was more astonishing. The cheetah started playing with the gazelle fawn like its own cub and then after sometime set it free to its mother. Even the animals value the life of other animals.

People’s Choice: HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS, MARTIN SANCHEZ

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I found a hippo party and decided to join! AND WE ALL DECIDED TO PLAY HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO! 🙂

People’s Choice: LEOPARD SEAL -FEEDING, RITA KLUGE

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Antarctica is beautiful and can be pretty raw, especially while documenting a apex predator such as the leopard seal while feeding on penguins instead of krill. i was lucky when on our last day the penguin chicks started to swim finally and the leopard seal able to catch them. the water was zero degrees and my 7mm neopren suit kept me warmish for about 20-30min at the most. i felt very flexible though and glad to be able to swim around quickly to catch some photos.

People’s Choice: SISTERHOOD, ROGER CHEN

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A quiet moment backstage as dancers of the classical Indian Kuchipudi dance form, which is focussed on rhythmic hand gestures and eye movements, support each other in preparation for the performance.

People’s Choice: UNSEEN {SELF PORTRAIT}, LAURA WOOD

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It isn’t always obvious – your identity as a mother. It’s clouded by expectations, demands and sleep deprivation. For the most part, you live out your day and your duties behind doors with only children looking on who don’t fully understand the sacrifices you make. Seven pm rolls around and you breathe a big breath as your children go to sleep, you pour a glass of wine and your identity changes again. Always a mother, but sometimes more than others.

People’s Choice: THE NUN, BOB BERRY

Image credits: National Geographic

A nun crossing the courtyard in the vatican city with strong shadows of a crucifix being cast around the perimeter

PEOPLE’S CHOICE, PEOPLE: DAY OF THE DEAD, BUCK HOLZEMER

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A Day of the Dead procession winds through the streets of Antigua, Guatemala.

People’s Choice: CASA DEL TANGO, DENISE BASS

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Dance lessons at “casa del tango” in gibara, cuba.

People’s Choice: THUNDERSTORM IN ATHENS, ALEXANDROS MARAGOS

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A severe summer thunderstorm in Athens, Greece with the Acropolis between lightnings. June 23, 2018.

People’s Choice: DUSTY WRANGLING, LAUREN SUMMERS

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The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch is located in a remote town in Wyoming where the cows outnumber the people. It’s luxurious, but this is not a spa with riding as a side activity – at this ranch, horses are the main event. Every day, one of us wranglers brings the herd of 120+ horses in during the morning round-up, and I captured this shot as the sun rose from behind the Big Horn Mountains, silhouetting my husband as he gathered the last stragglers – my favorite part of the day here.

People’s Choice: VAN GOGH BAOBABS, MAGGIE MACHINSKY

Image credits: National Geographic

In a time when approximately 1/3 of the world’s population can no longer see the Milky Way with the naked eye, Madagascar is a rare, isolated paradise untouched by modernization or light pollution. This is a 47 minute exposure of the sky trailing over the iconic 800+ year old baobab trees of the famed “Allee des Baobabs” in Morondava, Madagascar with the setting moon illuminating the foreground.

People’s Choice: IT’S ALL A BLUR, SUSAN BLICK

Image credits: National Geographic

It’s All a Blur – that’s how it can feel on the streets of this incredible country sometimes. I was in India leading a photo tour through the streets of the Paharganj. We stopped for a break at a rooftop cafe, it was late afternoon, the light was softening and the street shadows were disappearing. I set up my tripod and with the help of an ND filter I lowered my exposure to 8 seconds to add emotion to the scene.

2018 national geographic photo contest

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