Winners revealed: National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition 2019

We present the winners from this year’s National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition 2019, in association with Donegal Tourism.

By National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Published 4 Apr 2019, 14:15 BST, Updated 17 Feb 2021, 16:10 GMT
National Geographic Traveller (UK) Photography Competition 2019 grand prize winner
National Geographic Traveller (UK) Photography Competition 2019 grand prize winner
Photograph by Daniel Burton

Over the past four months, we’ve received thousands of your images in our hunt for the UK’s best travel photography talent for 2019. Novice or pro, we challenged you to submit unique, never-seen-before photographs that inspire others travel the world. Launched in 2011, this prestigious annual competition seeks the UK’s best new travel photography talent across five categories: Cities; Nature; People; Food; and Portfolio. View the finalists here

Pat Riddell, editor of National Geographic Traveller (UK), says: “At a time when we’re surrounded by travel photography, this year’s shortlist reminds us there’s so much more to using a camera than ‘point and shoot’. From documenting local customs and traditions to awe-inspiring landscapes and incredible wildlife, this year’s entrants prove once again how powerful a medium travel photography can be.”

The judging panel consisted of Emer O’Shea, landscape and wildlife photographer; Nori Jemil, travel photographer; Craig Parry, nature and adventure photographer; Ben Rowe, picture editor, Time Out; Amy Davies, features editor, Amateur Photographer; and Chris Hudson, art director, National Geographic Traveller (UK).


Daniel Burton — Mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

Nature category winner: Mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo
Photograph by Daniel Burton

Daniel Burton: “Some of the world’s last mountain gorillas live on the slopes of Mount Mikeno. This is a female from the Humba family, a habituated group that lives near Virunga’s Bukima station.”

What the judges said
Judge Nori Jemil said of the Grand Prize Winner: “A compelling image in which the animal stares directly down the lens. This extreme close-up combines a quality of light with bold, central positioning. The subject’s eyes are prominent while its face dissolves into darkness at the edges of the frame.”

View Daniel’s work on Instagram

Daniel Burton wins a wildlife photography adventure in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia, courtesy of Tatra Photography


Simon Urwin — Pengzhen in Chengdu

Portfolio category winner: Pengzhen in Chengdu
Photograph by Simon Urwin

Simon Urwin: “Deep in the western suburbs of Chengdu, the capital of the province of Sichuan, lies Pengzhen, a town barely touched by the hands of time. Here, the shadow of Chairman Mao and his Cultural Revolution still loom large.”

What the judges said
Judge Craig Parry has this to say about Simon’s winning images: “This is a strong portfolio — one that tells a story and catches this community from every angle and in every light. Perfectly captured.”

View Simon's work on Instagram

Simon Urwin will experience a seven-day trip to Chamonix with Inghams.


Annapurna Mellor — Taxi driver in Kolkata, India

Cities category winner: Taxi driver in Kolkata, India
Photograph by Annapurna Mellor

Annapurna Mellor: "A taxi driver leans against his yellow Ambassador cab — one of the icons of the city — reading a newspaper before the day begins.”

What the judges said
“Annapurna [the photographer] uses wonderful composition, capturing all the drama of city life — billboards, taxis, a police station and a very chilled driver. It leaves you wondering what’s going to happen next — love the rich colours,” said judge Emer O’Shea.

View Annapurna’s work on Instagram


Justin Cliffe — Dyeing wool in a Marrakech souk, Morocco

People category winner: Dyeing wool in a Marakech souk, Morocco
Photograph by Justin Cliffe

Justin Cliffe: “One of the owners of a fabric boutique in Marrakech showed us this almost apocalyptic scene of a worker dyeing wool — it was dirty, hot and a pungent smell filled the air.”

What the judges said
“Life among the heat and grime, an everyday workplace for someone. The glow around the lone figure, a beacon of light amid the dirt,” said judge Ben Rowe of Justin’s winning photograph of a worker dyeing wool in Marrakech.

View Justin’s work on Instagram. 


Pablo Borrego — Kandy Central Market, Sri Lanka

Food category winner: Kandy Central Market, Sri Lanka
Photograph by Pablo Borrego

Pablo Borrego: “Everything in a busy market feels magnified — all your senses are pushed to the limit — presenting an abundance of photographic opportunities”

What the judges said
“A vibrant and interesting shot, with bags of detail from corner to corner. Despite being quite a close crop on the subject, you get a good sense of the location. Exotic vegetables that we’re not used to seeing also suggest this is somewhere far-flung, which helps to add even more intrigue,” said Amy Davies, judge, of Pablo’s winning image.

View Pablo’s work on Instagram.

The Prizes

Slovakia lake and mountains

Grand-prize winner: Slovakia Lakes and Mountains
The grand-prize winner will join Tatra Photography in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia for a masterclass in landscape techniques and photography filtration. Supported by Lee Filters, whose high-quality polarisers and filters will be available throughout trip, the workshop will be led by award-winning tutor Justin Minns, visiting the best locations in this spectacularly wild corner of Europe. Through careful research, Tatra has organised the ideal itinerary to make the most of the rugged, pristine beauty at all times of day, as well as a masterclass in the likes of composition, shutter speeds and apertures.

French Alps

Portfolio winner: French Alps
The winner and a guest will jet off to Chamonix for a seven-night escape amid the peaks of the French Alps, courtesy of lakes and mountains specialists, Inghams. From hiking and biking to rock climbing and canyoning, the prize offers plenty of inspiration for your next portfolio.

Category Winners: Manfrotto Befree Advanced Travel Tripod
Winners of each category will receive a Manfrotto Befree Advanced Aluminium Travel Tripod worth £175. It has three independent ergonomic controls and a side pull selector for a quick and easy setup.

The sponsors

Headline Sponsor, Donegal Tourism: The wild, rugged northwest county, Donegal made it into National Geographic Traveller’s Cool List in 2017 for good reason. Donegal Tourism is dedicated to promoting and marketing the county, locally, nationally and internationally.

Photography Partner 2018/19, CEWE Photoworld: CEWE Photoworld is part of Europe’s largest photo company, producing millions of photo products each year, including CEWE PHOTOBOOK.

The winning photos can also be seen in the April 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK). The Photography Competition 2020 launches in September 2019. Follow #NGTPhotoComp for news.

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