Choosing the Winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest

This year’s National Geographic Photo Contest saw more than 13,000 images entered into three categories: people, places and nature. From that huge range of options, the judges selected three photos, including one grand prize winner. You can catch a glimpse into the logic behind their decisions in the video below:

The winner of the Places category was Francisco Mingorance, whose aerial shot of Spain’s Rio Tinto, bearing a strong resemblance to an asteroid crash, won the judges over with its honesty and uniqueness.

francisco mingorance

The People category winner was Joel Nsadha, with a sleek black-and-white portrait of a boy named Bwengye, who lives in one of the slums of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. According to the judges, the image was “done with dignity,” and offers a surprisingly proud idea of an area of the world the West often thinks little of.

 Joel Nsadha

The winner of the Nature category—as well as the entire photo challenge—was James Smart, whose capture of an anti-cyclonic tornado touching down in Colorado made for a rare and gripping image, alive with action and danger.

james smart photography

The bottom line, each judge stresses, is originality. Each photo offered a unique viewpoint of the world—a Ugandan slum with integrity, a calm image of a ravaging twister, or an otherworldly view of our planet.

For more on the thought process behind NatGeo magazine images, check out this article on how their cover images are chosen.

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