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National Geographic Traveller Photo Competition 2017: The Winners

Rashid Khaidanov
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For the second year running, CEWE were the proud sponsors of the National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition, and on Tuesday 28th February we headed down to London to see the winners announced.

With nearly 2,000 entries to consider, the judges had the unenviable task of choosing just six winners, as well as one overall winner of the grand prize. The shortlisted images were all stunning, captured in every corner of the globe by some very creative and skilled photographers.

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Here are the winning photographs from each category. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have, and that they inspire you to grab your camera and head out on your travels!

Grand Prize Winner – Nature

Rashid Khaidanov

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland

Rashid Khaidanov

The detail and light of this atmospheric photo, featuring Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland, made it the judges’ favourite across all of the categories. Photographer Rashid Khaidanov had quite an epic journey to take his winning image, riding six hours on his bike from Belfast to Portrush, and battling injury and the weather to finally capture this amazing shot.

The grand prize is an amazing two week trip to Myanmar, which Rashid says “will be unbelievable. I will try to bring back good pictures and videos. I want to take this opportunity to the full!”.

Rashid’s tips for travel photographers

“For all photographers who doubt their abilities. There’s no need to wait for something. Do everything right now. If you have a great photo, send it to the competitions.

Everything is possible! If you do not give up and continue to strive for the dream, it will come true one day! No need to wait when there is a good camera and a good weather. Get up off the couch and prove to yourself that you can do all you desire in your life. Do not listen to those people who say that this is not possible. Just do it.

My advice is to experiment a lot. See photos of successful photographers. Try to understand how the photographer was thinking before they made this shot. Try to always do better. And one day your work will be much better.”

The Other Winners

The standard of competition entries was incredibly high, and all of the shortlisted images were very impressive. Let’s take a look at the winning photos from the other categories, and hear from their photographers.

Winner – Action

David Candlish


Fire Horse

“My photo of a firebreather was taken at the Night Safari in Singapore. The troupe put on quite a display – it’s already hot in Singapore, even after dark, but their blasts of fire could easily be felt and make the hairs on the back of your neck prickle! Watching their performance through my camera really helped focus my attention on them, removing any distractions, and with the drums in the background it was mesmerising.

Getting a great photo of a firebreather is a bit of a lottery. Even though I set up my camera ahead of time so I could focus on shooting it’s still hit and miss – too soon and your photo is just pure black, too late and you get a tiny wisp of flame! The trick is to watch the performers to get an idea how they prepared for their blasts of fire and shoot in short bursts to improve your chances. I think in the end I’d shot over 300 photos in the space of 10 minutes and only ended up with a couple of keepers!

Winning the Action category was an amazing feeling, one I still can’t quite believe is true. The standard of competition was so high it makes it even more of a special achievement.”

David’s tips for travel photographers

“When I’m travelling I always try to prepare ahead in a couple of ways – I research what I am going to visit as much as I can, but I pack to be prepared for anything. If you just visit places expecting to photograph the main sights you will probably end up with the same photos as everyone else. This is absolutely fine for holiday snaps but I find you get the best pictures and the best stories by being as prepared as you can for the unexpected!”

Winner – Urban

Ben Goodwin

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


“It was the end of a long day of sightseeing and I had reached the top of Corcovado, only to be greeted by thick cloud as far as the eye could see. After a couple of hours waiting between rain showers and with light fading, I had almost given up hope of seeing the classic vista across to Sugarloaf Mountain.

Suddenly, the clouds parted to reveal Rio de Janeiro in all its glory and I quickly set up my camera. As light flooded across the city, I noticed the shadow of Christ the Redeemer fill my frame and quickly took a series of shots, as a rainbow briefly gave the statue its own halo.

Almost as soon as the city had been revealed, it was gone again and the cloud cover returned. However, the hours of waiting for that tiny window of colour were more than worth it.

Winning the National Geographic Traveller competition has been incredible. I don’t consider myself a travel photographer, more a traveller who likes to photograph, and this award was a huge confidence boost and as encouraged me to focus more as a photographer while I am seeing the world. Receiving the award too is something that I will never forget and I got goose bumps when I saw it for the first time in the CEWE book.”

Ben’s tips for travel photographers

“It’s no surprise then that my advice to others hoping to perfect their photography is to be patient. It’s not very often that I take time to wait for the right shot – I normally take a quick snap and then am on to the next sight. However, a shot like this one was only possible by waiting for the right moment and, because I made the investment with my time, the results were beyond what I could’ve hoped for. Having said that, sometimes you can just get lucky!”

Winner – People

Marco Pozzi

Jaipur, India

Man on train

Winner – Portfolio

Miguel de Freitas

Nambiti Game Reserve, South Africa


“I try to go on safaris every two years or so and in my last three trips I had rotten luck in seeing any cats. I often heard them, but never got to see them. So on the first morning of my visit to Nambiti game reserve in South Africa I was ecstatic when the message came through on the radio that a pride of lions had been spotted with sightings of mating activity.

By the time we reached them, the heavy cloud cover that had greeted us at sunrise couldn’t hold back any longer and a torrential downpour ensued. This put a halt on the lions’ activity but at the same time created a different photographic opportunity. The lions were completely exposed to the elements with no nearby shelter on offer so, with camera at the ready, it was only a matter of time before the lions did what they could in order to keep themselves dry.”


“I kept my camera pointed on certain individuals and waited patiently for the “shake and spray”. We’ve all seen action shots of lions and to some degree these images can be quite cliché so I was very pleased with the outcome of my work as I think I managed to create images that are different to what people are used to seeing.”


“I’m sure the judges have seen hundreds of lion images in their time so to be named a winner in a photo competition for such a prestigious magazine is truly incredible. I was blown away with the announcement and this experience has inspired me to keep working on a hobby that I am so passionate about. I’m thoroughly looking forward to my prize trip to Iceland and hope to come back with some potential entries for next year’s comp!”


Miguel’s tips for travel photographers

“Spend more time behind the camera and less time in front of the computer. Easier said than done in a time where almost every household has photo-editing software and apps at their disposal but some things you just HAVE to get right on camera. Composition is one of them; if you get the composition completely wrong the moment you press the shutter then the image usually ends up in the deleted folder.

Patience and a bit of graft goes a long way too; if you are out for three hours in miserable weather in the hope that a lion might give you a bit of a show (or yawn!) then more often than not you will be rewarded.”

Congratulations to all the winners – you’ve well and truly inspired us to book a flight to somewhere stunning to take some fabulous photos!

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