Meet the judges

The TPOTY judges are people of the highest integrity and we would like to thank them for giving their time and experience to ensuring that the awards set and maintain the highest of standards. Both Travel Photographer of the Year and you, the entrant, benefit from their invaluable input, expertise and impartiality, sustaining the quality and credibility of the awards.

None of the judges has a vested interest in the results, beyond using their considerable knowledge and experience of photography to choose the winning images on merit. There are usually between 12 and 17 judges on the TPOTY judging panel. You can watch a fun, short (and rather low-res!) video of the final round of judging for the 2012 awards here. And on this page you can read about each judge, and what they look for in an award-winning image.


EAMONN MCCABE: 1948 – October 2022

The Travel Photographer of the Year team were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of the multi award-winning photographer and picture editor, Eamonn McCabe, who had been a TPOTY judge on numerous occasions and was due to be on the panel again for this year’s award. As well as being an enormously talented photographer, picture editor and broadcaster, Eamonn was a true gentleman and a kind, generous soul. We will miss his friendship and quiet humour, and we send our deepest condolences to his family and other loved ones for the loss of a unique individual.


The 2022 Judges are:

Cheryl Brophy Chan – former picture editor at Corbis

We live in a world of imagery. Most of us are photographed from every angle the moment we are born. Instinctively as children we learn to glance, pose and smile and offer the lens our most flattering expression. In my own family, my father was the avid photographer who captured our childhood on slide, developed his own negatives and documented us on cine film. In fact, he was the influencer who led me to a life of photography.

Then, at degree level, I learnt to evaluate imagery on a myriad of levels from composition, pictorial language, message and memorability.  That education led me onto becoming a Picture Editor for the Bruce Coleman Agency where I was immersed in a wealth of wildlife and travel images. Subsequently I edited and marketed stills for an acclaimed wildlife filmmaker in Bristol. Thereafter I edited diverse and extensive photo collections for Corbis. Fundamentally, I have witnessed photography transition from stills to digitisation. 

Photography remains an intrinsic part of my life today. Even whilst living in Cameroon for two years and now living in Malaysia for the past ten years, I continue to document my travels and many cultures. Consequently I have developed a more global view of photography and am conscious of new trends of expression too. 

From a family snap to an exceptional award winning photograph, it’s remarkable how the camera records the moment and in an instant we can share it with the world for a lifetime.

“To get my attention, a winning photograph should immediately jolt my senses and reveal something quite: extraordinary, remarkable, unique or peculiar. 

A photo that conveys a sense of scale, mesmerises me with complexity, punches me with colour or coaxes me with a simplistic line, immediately impresses me.

Whether it’s breathtaking, devastating or celebratory I’m curious to see it. I want to chuckle at a photographer’s wit and originality, and be envious of the world through the lens of their eyes.”


Chris Rainier – National Geographic explorer and photographer

Chris is a documentary photographer, filmmaker and a National Geographic Society Explorer. In 2002, he was awarded the Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorers Club for his efforts on cultural preservation,

He is the founder and director of The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation – a global charitable foundation focused on preserving biodiversity and traditional culture.

During his tenure with the National Geographic Society, Chris was the co-founder and co-director of both the Enduring Voices Language Project and Director of the All Roads Photography Program, designed to support indigenous groups with modern technology to document their traditional culture and to create sustainable solutions to preserve the planet in the 21st Century.

Chris has completed photographic projects for the United Nations, UNESCO, Amnesty International, Conservation International, the Smithsonian Institution, Time Magazine, the New York Times, LIFE Magazine, and the National Geographic Society. Rainier has photographed global culture, conflict, famine and war in such places as Somalia, Sarajevo/Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Iraq for TIME Magazine and for NPR Radio.

In the early 1980s, Chris was Ansel Adams’ last photographic assistant. During his tenure with the noted photographer, he worked with Mr. Adams to help amplify the use of art photography as a social tool – helping to preserve threatened wilderness areas and National Parks. Chris went on to collaborate with UNESCO and IUCN on a global project using photography to preserve endangered wilderness areas around the world. 

His photography and books have been widely shown and collected by museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York, the George Eastman House International Museum in Rochester, New York, The National Geographic Society, The Bowers Museum and the United Nations.

 “I am always looking for a persons “real self ” showing up in their images.  A personal voice. And that takes time to develop.  We are all capable of taking one great image at least once in our lives, – but  what I am always looking out for is a unique and creative vision that has been developed.  And it is not about the camera, or the size of your lens!  It is the story in each image. As Ansel Adams once said to me  “….There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept….! ”  In other words the most expensive camera in the world will not take a good image, however a photographer who has something to truly say will take a brilliant image… I am always looking for someone who has something to say that is unique , and in addition, importantly, their craft is well honed.


Colin Finlay – stock photography expert & print collector

Colin is an avid collector of photography as well as being actively involved in the photography industry for many years. He is currently Managing Director of as well as Director of Strategic Development at Avalon Media. Colin’s extensive knowledge of content has further foundations in his prior positions including Head of Image Resources at the Natural History Museum in London where, amongst other responsibilities, he ran one of the world’s largest photo competitions, The Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

An expert in archival content and a regular magazine contributor and event presenter, Colin was also Global Sales Director – Archival Collections at Getty Images for seven years.

For me, It is always about creativity and consistency. Many photographers can take one good image, but putting together a portfolio is another skill. Generally speaking, photographers make poor editors, because they are too close to the images they have shot. Just because a photographer had a wonderful time on a particular shoot, it does not mean that they took wonderful images! So it is all about the elusiveness of creativity, not so much to do with skill, technique or equipment. There are many great images taken on camera phones, and many poor ones taken on top of the range cameras with fancy lenses, filters and editing software. Expensive equipment and a scientific understanding of how cameras work are no substitute for a considered thought process and a creative idea. Simply put, images I vote for tend to be either something I haven’t seen before, or the best version of familiar subject matter.


Daria Bonera – photographers’ agent, mentor & picture editor

Daria was born in Milan, Italy. After graduating in Fashion Marketing from St Martins School in London, she started working for Grazia Neri Photo Agency, where she represented several international agencies and photographers and I selected new talents for the Agency.

In 2008 Daria went to New York to work as the agent of documentary photographer Donna Ferrato and representing Grazia Neri’s photographers all through the US, while collaborating with the major publications. She returned to Milan in 2009 and started her own Agency, DB, where she represents a few selected photographers and film directors for fashion, advertising and digital campaigns.

She has been a portfolio reviewer at several festivals and a judge on many International Photography Awards, a nominator for the Prix Pictet and a mentor and teacher of visual communication. From 2009 to 2019 she was the photo editor of the magazine “Touring National Geographic Traveler Italia”. She is now the visual editor of Cesura photo collective for editorial and commercial projects.

Usually I am not attracted to sensational or just news photos, I am attracted by in-depth themes, topics such as gender equality, the freedom of thought that can change things and give a better future to the new generations. With portfolios I look for the choice of the subject, how it fit the theme as has been documented, the emotionality but also the ethics and integrity.


Deborah Ireland – curator, author & former director of photography at AA Publishing

Debbie Ireland is a writer and researcher on the history of photography and held the post of Assistant Curator at The Royal Photographic Society.

Subsequently, she managed the Photo Library for a major travel publisher, where she developed her passion for travel photography, and she has been a valued judge on the awards for many years.

Debbie is highly knowledgeable on the history of photography. Her books include Isabella Bird a Photographic Journal of Travels through China 1894 – 1896 published by Ammonite Press for The Royal Geographical Society in 2015 and The Hasselblad and the Moon Landing published in 2018. She has also continued to curate on a freelance basis.

When I am judging, I always think about how an image will appear on screen, in print or in exhibition. Appreciating the skill and the creative talent of the photographer who has captured the image and the story their photograph tells is key. As a judge making decisions can be quite a challenge when the standard of entries is so high, but it is always a privilege to view the world through the eyes of such talented photographers.


Elia Locardi – travel photographer, digital imaging expert & educator

From 2012 to 2017, Elia and his wife Naomi gained much notoriety for selling nearly all of their possessions, becoming location independent (Digital Nomads), and living a 100% mobile lifestyle. For five solid years, they worked in the photography industry as they moved perpetually, traveling from country to country, and continuously circling the globe while never having a home base. This exciting, albeit complex and challenging lifestyle allowed them to maximize their time working in each destination, while simultaneously making each individual location their base of operations.

In recent years, that lifestyle has evolved to keep up with the demands of running multiple companies and collaborating with major market clients and projects worldwide. While still on the road for the majority of the year, the Locardis once again call Florida’s Space Coast their home.

He has been invited to speak at some of the largest photography events and stages in the world, including Photo Plus, National Geographic Aveiro Festival, Xposure International Photography Festival and Instagram’s Illuminate. Having completed multiple speaking tours throughout North America, Europe, SE Asia, and the Middle East, he has presented in more than 200 venues, spanning more than 30 different countries.

Specializing in landscape, cityscape, and astrophotography, Elia teaches his entire photography and post-processing workflow from start to finish, both on location in-the-field and in post-processing.

Above all, I’m looking for photos that convey emotion or evoke an emotional response. No matter the genre, the photo should make me pause to examine it further or even stop entirely to say WOW!”


Jeremy Hoare – photographer, TV lighting cameraman & radio presenter 

Jeremy was born into a showbiz family with his father being manager of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and after a career as an ITV television cameraman, Jeremy Hoare shoots mainly stills today. The merging of digital images and HD video means he can combine them to make short films and one, ‘Lost Love’, was screened at international film festivals in six countries. 

During his television career, Jeremy worked with many actors and stars of national and international repute, too many to mention. He has also since been the main cameraman on several classical ballet shoots in Kyoto. Japan has been the main focus for his photography for many years  

He has recently become a radio presenter and produced many shows, the latest being ‘Travelling Man’ featuring music from some of the sixty countries he has been to. 

“What I look for in an image is a sense of involvement, I want to see and feel the story in a single frame by being drawn into it.  I learnt so much about lighting and composition from studying the paintings of old master artists such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Turner and Cezanne; classic composition and lighting has changed little in 500 years.” 


Keith Berr – advertising & charity project photographer

Keith is an international advertising photographer who crossed the line into fine arts many years ago. A graduate of the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, he has developed a unique live/work compound in Cleveland’s Asia Town, where he holds frequent events, fundraisers and educational gatherings, helping people and organizations connect and share their strongest assets towards promoting the arts. 

He uses his advertising background to work with other artists in producing and promoting art that can create a positive change in our society. His work includes several pro bono projects every year, as well as continuing his advertising business, lectures, exhibiting and other art projects. The past 4 years he has been presented with National ADDY awards, for his personal work, “Save The Salt” project, on preserving the Bonneville Salt Flats, a National Monument that’s in need of assistance in preventing its further destruction by man.

Xposure International Photo Expo brought Keith to speak and exhibit in Sharjah, in the UAE, with 30 other internationally acclaimed photographers, concerning projects they have developed that influence today’s world through their art.

Another of his recent charitable pro bono projects was with The Kids Film It Festival, where he created an award-winning print campaign for encouraging young filmmakers, with proceeds going to Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s efforts.

I picked up my first camera when I was 16 and knew immediately that this was my passion and my career. Throughout my life I’ve continued my photographic education, studied, taught, exhibited and created images everyday.  

We are all constantly bombarded with imagery and very few photos can make me stop and go Whoa!  When an image, or a body of work, causes me react strongly it has told a story and captured a moment in time with its freshness, composition, tonality, technique and the absolute most important thing, light.

If a photographer is able to see the light and uses it either through nature, or plans it with created light, a great photograph is born. I don’t care what tool is used to create the image; it has to have these major elements that separate it from being just a snapshot.

Great photographs create a road to inspire others to do the same.


Linda Barberic – producer & art director

As a creative producer Linda assists in taking the client’s, or art director’s, initial concept and making it a reality. If you need an elephant, a secluded beach or a shot of pouring molten steel, she can coordinate it all and make it happen seamlessly. She works very closely with the photographer to ensure they are capturing the client’s concept but still allowing for the photographer to express their creative talents. “A story is told with a headline and each photo should generate a headline in the viewer’s mind when seen. This is storytelling.”

Linda has spent more than three decades producing award-winning imagery for the advertising and the fine art world. She knows what it takes to produce and sell a strong image, but that doesn’t always mean those images inspire her.

“What strikes me first about a strong image is its ability to convey a mood that helps viewers find a meaning in what the photographer is trying to say. The image must instantly draw me into the moment when it was captured, so I can see and feel the story without words.  I often look deeper into the technical ability, the lighting, the composition – but none of that matters if it is not inspirational to me.”


Manfred Zollner – Editor-in-chief at Fotomagazin, Germany

Manfred has a degree in Mass Communications from Munich University. He began his journalistic career as a film critic, working for various German film magazines.

Since 1991 he has devoted himself entirely to photography. That´s when he started working for the German monthly  fotoMAGAZIN as director of photography. From 2003 till 2006 he was editor in chief of the bi-monthly magazine Photo Technik International

The Munich born journalist has returned to fotoMAGAZIN in 2006, working in the position of deputy editor in chief since 2007 and taking over as editor in chief in 2019.

In addition to his editorial work, Mr. Zollner is a regular contributor of essays to international photo book projects and a frequent portfolio reviewer at photo festivals in Europe and in the United States.

“I am interested in signature style work, that shows me the photographer´s individual approach to their chosen subject. An approach, which is just to the subject  and gives me an insight to the photographer’s strong visual storytelling skills.”


Megan McCubbin – zoologist, conservationist, wildlife TV presenter & photographer

Megan is a passionate scientist – zoologist & conservationist – with a particular interest in behaviour, evolution and the illegal wildlife trade. Her interest stems from a childhood growing up in and around the Isle of Wight Zoo, which specialises in the rescue and rehabilitation of ex-circus and pet trade animals. Having travelled the world from a young age, Megan became familiar with living in remote areas whilst searching for incredible wildlife.

From working as a behavioural intern in China to rehabilitate bears from the bear bile farming industry to researching the personalities and ecology of shark species at Bimini Sharklab, Megan’s experience helps her to communicate complex scientific concepts to wider audiences.

As a wildlife TV presenter she has presented many programmes – Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch  (BBC Two); Undercover Tourist: Inside the Illegal Bear Bile Market (BBC Three). Megan became a wildlife researcher and presenter for Lush Digital focusing on investigative filmmaking to expose environmental issues and illegal wildlife persecution. Co-presenting alongside Chris Packham, Megan also took part in a national bioblitz campaign. Most recently, she reported on issues for Al Jazeera on plastic pollution and the social movement Extinction Rebellion for the award-winning environmental series Earthrise. She hopes to bring more awareness to the plight of species around the world and to educate others in the wonders of the planet.

Megan has been a keen wildlife photographer since she could hold a camera. She won the under 12’s RSPCA’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in 2007 and is now most well-known for her Antarctic photography. In 2019, she was appointed as the coordinator and judge of Young Bird Photographer of the Year.

“Photography for me is all about breaking boundaries and communication. I love images that have an element of surprise – something unusual and original – but also those that make you feel connect to the subject or story. You know it’s a powerful photo when you are left thinking about it for weeks after your first encounter with it! I like images to challenge my way of thinking and make me feel inspired!”


Richard Dunwoody – photographer & champion jockey

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Richard Dunwoody became the only jockey of his generation to win the ‘Big Three’ National Hunt races following wins in the Aintree Grand National 1986 & 1994, Cheltenham Gold Cup 1988 and the Champion Hurdle 1990. He partnered the great Desert Orchid to seven victories and was Champion Jockey three times (1993-95). He was awarded the MBE for services to his sport in 1993.

Since retiring as a jockey in 1999 he has travelled extensively and undertaken expeditions to both the Arctic and Antarctic. In 2008 he completed an unsupported expedition to the South Pole, travelling around 700 miles on skis. In 2017, to raise funds for Sarcoma UK, he walked the length of Japan’s three largest islands, covering over 2000 miles in 101 days.

Besides sport, adventure and travel, he has always been passionate about photography. Since studying photojournalism at the Speos Institute in Paris in 2012 he has worked as a professional photographer and his images have appeared in equine and travel publications around the world. In 2014 The Brooke Hospital (an equine charity) held a successful exhibition of his images of working equines at St Martin in the Fields in London.

“For me travel photography is very much about capturing the moment, being creative, thinking outside the box and telling the story.”


Chris Coe – photographer, lecturer, mentor, author & TPOTY founder

Chris has been a professional photographer for over 30 years. During that time he has illustrated over 50 books and lectured for some of the leading companies in both photography and travel. The author of several ‘how to do’ photography books, his recent focus is very much on helping people find their own creativity.

In 2002, Chris imagined these Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) awards and the next year they were launched. Now they have grown into one of the biggest and most prestigious international photography awards. This is the 20th award! Through TPOTY he has also developed skills as a curator, having put together nearly 40 exhibitions.

TPOTY has taken a lot of his time in the last 20 years but he is now returning to his own photography. The recent launch of Eye for the Light, the online magazine in TPOTY’s membership area, is allowing him to combine new photography with writing and teaching.

Teaching photography and mentoring individuals have become an important part of Chris’s work and he is passionate about sharing knowledge. He is self-taught – previously working as a physiologist. Having started from the bottom he has a natural talent for keeping photography simple and creative.

For me, a good image registers in my mind and a great one imprints itself. I want to be intrigued. I want to react to it. I want an image to make me keep coming back and looking again and again. The best images do that. Originality is also important. A creative spark, even when photographing one of the more iconic and much-photographed places, can make an image really shine and shows that a photographer has taken the time to stamp their own style or vision on to it.


Our sponsors and partners

It would not be possible to run Travel Photographer of the Year without the support of our sponsors and partners, and we are hugely grateful for their involvement each year. Click the logo to learn more about each of Travel Photographer of the Year’s sponsor and partners.