Winners of the 2020 Travel Photographer of the Year Announced
2020 wasn’t exactly the best of years, not by a long shot, and not for anyone! That being said, even with the difficulties and challenges, people still tried to be creative (and safe), and as such, there are still some incredible images that were captured around the world during that time. With that, the Travel Photographer of the Year competition endured and has released its list of winning images from the over 25,000 entries from 147 Countries.
From majestic landscapes, intimate animal and bird portraits and intriguing night-time views beneath the ocean’s surface to harrowing reportage of life under siege in Syria and glimpses of cultures across the world, the winning images in the 2020 global Travel Photographer of the Year awards (TPOTY) present a fascinating view of life on our planet, at a time in which travel is so difficult – if not impossible – for so many of us. The COVID pandemic inevitably had an impact, with some entrants submitting images taken close to home during the lockdown, while others photographed countries in which they had unexpectedly found themselves stranded as temporary long-term residents.
The global spread of the awards – about to embark on their 19th year – can be seen in the fact that almost 25,000 images were submitted from photographers in 147 countries, with Vladimir Alekseev becoming TPOTY’s first-ever Russian overall winner. The winning shots – which can all be viewed in the online Winners’ Gallery on tpoty.com – will go on display in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London, from 12 May to 10 June and in other TPOTY exhibitions, including Chester Cathedral, during 2021.
The overall winner of the year went to a photographer from Russia, Vladimir Alekseev with an incredible set of images mixing landscapes, wildlife, and people. His images and the other winners were selected by a judging panel for showcasing the diversity of skill he (and the others) possessed.
The competition does both full portfolio and single-image submissions, with the top awards going to the photographer who submits the best portfolio. View some of Vladimir’s winning images below;
Vladimir Alekseev’s vibrant images are a glorious mixture of landscapes, wildlife, and people, showcasing the diversity of skill possessed by the Russian photographer, and making him a very worthy recipient of the title Travel Photographer of the Year 2020.
The Rest of the Winners by Category
- Overall Winner: Travel Photographer of the Year 2020 – Vladimir Alekseev, Russia
- Young Travel Photographer of the Year 2020 – Indigo Larmour, Ireland (age 12)
- Young Travel Photographer of the Year: Winner, 15-18 yrs – Ben Skaar, USA (age 17)
- Young Travel Photographer of the Year 2020: Winner, 14 yrs & under – Miguel Sánchez García, Spain (age 11)
- Winner: Landscapes & Earth Elements – Alessandro Carboni, Italy
- Winner: Nature, Sealife, Wildlife – Marco Steiner, Austria
- Winner: People of the World – Mouneb Taim, Syria
- Winner: Travel Folio – Jordi Cohen, Spain
- Winner: Close to Home – Pier Luigi Dodi, Italy
- Winner: Colours of Life – Peter Walmsley, UK
- Winner, Islands – David Newton, UK
- Winner: Solitude – Mark Anthony Agtay, Philippines
- Winner: iTravelled: Azim Khan Ronnie, Bangladesh
- Winner: People’s Choice – Jorge Bacelar, Portugal
- Winner, Travel Shorts (video): Jonathan Stokes, UK
12-year-old Indigo Larmour from Ireland achieved the not inconsiderable feat of winning Young Travel Photographer of the Year for the second year running, with a beautifully composed, atmospheric black and white portfolio from the streets of Lahore, Pakistan. The 17-year-old American Ben Skaar was well rewarded for the nights spent in his car and the subsequent early mornings in order to capture the magnificence of the autumn foliage in New Hampshire – he won Young Travel Photographer of the Year 15-18. And Miguel Sánchez García, age 11, became the first Spaniard to win Young Travel Photographer of Year 14 and Under.
An unusual and beautiful portfolio of trees in a blizzard, a very rare event in his native Sardinia, secured first place in the Landscapes and Earth Elements category for Alessandro Carboni, while James Smart’s image of a ‘drill bit’ tornado touching down in Colorado won the Best Single Image award in this category.
Austrian Marco Steiner won Nature, Sealife, Wildlife with images of sea creatures taken during blackwater dives, and the underwater theme continued with the Best Single Image – Greek photographer Pavlos Evangelidis’ shot of bright yellow pilot fish keeping company with a lemon shark.
The People of the World category was won by a remarkable young photographer. Born in Syria in 2001, Mouneb Taim started working as a photographer while still a child living under siege, sending his work to international agencies. His images of the devastation wrought on the inhabitants of Douma have immense power and tell a very important story. The award for Best Single Image went to Belgian photographer Eddy Verloes for his photograph of Orthodox Jews taking their daily exercise on the beach during lockdown.
Spanish photographer Jordi Cohen won the eight-image Travel portfolio category with a somber black and white portfolio depicting human life and culture in India, Israel, Haiti, Romania, and Spain while, in complete contrast was Best Single Image winner Paul Sansome’s whimsical and colorful shot from Hanoi, Vietnam.
In the single image categories, Italian Pier Luigi Dodi won the lockdown-inspired Close to Home category with an intimate portrait of a woman blowing bubbles for her young son – our small life in bubbles, and the British photographer Peter Walmsley won Colours of Life with a vibrant view of a flower market in Bangalore, India. Another British photographer – David Newton – won the Islands category with an aerial image from Taiwan, and another drone shot – Mark Anthony Agtay’s picture of a beach in his native Philippines – won the Solitude category. Azim Khan Ronnie from Bangladesh won the SmartShot iTravelled category with his image of people at prayer in a vast mosque in Dhaka. Finally, Portuguese veterinarian Jorge Bacelar won the public vote – the People’s Choice award – with his tender portrait of a farmer with a goat.
This year Travel Photographer of the Year also included a video category, for films up to two minutes in length. The British photographer Jonathan Stokes won this category with a brooding depiction of the wild Welsh landscape.
Across the various categories, photographers won prizes including cash bursaries, Fujifilm X-T4 cameras with lenses, high-end outdoor clothing from Páramo, an international photography adventure with Chris Weston Photography, personalized leather portfolio books or iFolios from Plastic Sandwich, Photo Iconic photo tuition, Genesis Imaging exhibition prints, LEE Filter kits and membership of the Royal Photographic Society.
TPOTY founder Chris Coe said:
“Travel photography in a global pandemic, with numerous travel bans, has been challenging to say the least, but travel photographers are a resourceful breed, as the latest set of winners is a testament to. Interestingly, when our worlds feel like they’ve shrunk, the list of nationalities winning TPOTY and its categories has grown, with our first overall winner from Russia and other winning entries from Syria, Egypt and the Philippines for the first time, taking the total number of nationalities who have featured amongst our winners over the years to 45.
Travel Photographer of the Year, Vladimir Alekseev (Russia), had three portfolios shortlisted so, as in previous years where this has happened, the judges selected eight images to represent his stunning photography. Our young winner, Indigo Larmour, has retained her 2019 title and it is exciting to see how such a talented 12-year old’s photography is progressing.
Our first winner from Syria, Mouneb Taim, has a very special story to tell, both about his photography and his life. I’m sure some will say his images aren’t travel photography but they tell a tragic story of a destination and a culture which has featured strongly in photographs since the very early days of the great adventurers’ travel and travel photography to its now decimated cultural sites and landscapes.
These winners are spectacular in their beauty, range, drama, elegance and, in some cases, poignancy. In tough times they will bring a warmth and joy to many and confirm that there is skill, insight, vision and art in travel photography.”
Because there are just too many images in this competition, we’ve only shared a handful of the winning images here. To see the full list of portfolio and single image winners, please visit the full gallery on the official 2020 Travel Photography of the Year website here.