National Geographic Announces 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year

picture of the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winning photo
Photo by Reiko Takahashi

A photograph of a humpback whale calf’s tail has earned Reiko Takahashi of Japan the prestigious grand-prize in the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. Takahashi will receive a ,000 USD prize. Takahashi’s incredible photo was selected by a panel of National Geographic judges from more than 13,000 entries.

Takahashi took her grand prize-winning photo, titled “Mermaid,” off the coast of Japan’s Kumejima Island. The long-time photographer left her office job to pursue her passion for underwater photography and traveled to Kumejima Island on a mission to photograph humpback whales with their young calves.

“It was a special scene for me, to be able to take a photo of the calf, completely relaxed in gentle waters,” said Takahashi. “I really cannot believe it. It was my dream to win. I am honored and it will be the driving force for my future shooting,”

The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest celebrates stunning pictures taken by all levels of photographers around the world. National Geographic is at the center of a community filled with bold and curious people, including the talented photographers who submitted their best photos to the 2018 contest.

The 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest recognizes spectacular photos taken within the last two years, with entries in three categories: Nature, People and Cities.

In addition to the grand-prize winner, top photos were selected in each of the three categories. Takahashi’s photo was also chosen as the winner in the Nature category. Hiro Kurashina of Japan took top honors in the Cities category for his photo titled “Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki, Kyushu,” while “Tea Culture” by Alessandra Meniconzi of Switzerland won the People category.

All of the winning and honorable mention photos can be viewed at

This year’s competition was judged by Whitney Johnson, vice president of visual experiences at National Geographic, as well as two National Geographic contributing photographers — ocean and adventure photographer Andy Mann and polar photographer Camille Seaman.

“I was amazed at the quality of images and the sensibility towards subject in all three categories for this competition,” said Seaman. “Looking at hundreds of images choosing the winners was a daunting task. The images that stood out did so based not solely on their technical execution but also a sensitivity for a feeling of the moment and originality.”

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