2021 Winners

Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) 2021 Winners

The incredibly high standard of entries for Travel Photographer of the Year 2021 continued despite difficult times for travel, and we would like thank all our entrants along with our fantastic judging panel, who gave so much of their time to select the winners.

STATEMENT FROM TPOTY FOUNDER, CHRIS COE:

“The last two years have been tough for everyone and opportunities for travel photographers to shoot new imagery have been limited. Despite this, TPOTY has managed to keep attracting great imagery and kept our exhibitions running in safe outdoor spaces. the images below, and from all the other entrants, are testament to the tenacity, creativity and ingenuity of travelling photographers around the world.

2022 is TPOTY’s 20th award and we look forward to celebrating even more of the best travel-related photography from around the world.”

The winning images from the 2021 Travel Photographer of the Year awards will be displayed in a spectacular, free-to-view outdoor exhibition in a magnificent London venue – Granary Square near King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, in April and May 2022. More information >

Click on each photo to zoom in

Travel Photographer of the Year: Fortunato Gatto, Italy

Born in Southern Italy, Fortunato Gatto moved to Milan as a child, where he lived until 2007, when he took a leap of faith and relocated to Scotland to follow his ever-growing passion for wild landscapes and unspoilt nature. The stunning surroundings, his fearless approach to the rugged weather conditions and elements, and his persistence in being willing to learn and improve helped him become an advocate of the beauty of nature. “Nature is the highest work of art, and that is also my aim in representing it. Through metaphors, I look for hidden images, to tell nature’s secrets.” To date, Fortunato has portrayed Scotland and many other wild territories in his own unique way, gaining worldwide awards and recognition. He holds workshops, photo tours, talks and exhibitions where, along with covering photography as a subject, he shares his love and respect for nature, sustainability and environmental insights, giving voice and a face to nature – the real protagonist of his works of art. He recently joined online seminars and webinars within the prestigious cultural association Radicediunopercento to teach the magnificent ‘Journey through landscape photography’.

Judges’ comments

“In such difficult times such beautiful images lift the spirits and warm the soul. Fortunato’s images of a meeting of the seasons in Denali National Park in Alaska, USA, give a wonderful sense of place and remoteness. They have to be viewed large to really appreciate the detail and atmosphere. In contrast, though using a similar colour palette, the detailed abstract images of patterns in the sand in, created by water wash, in Scotland’s Hebrides play with shape and colour to great affect. We are all very conscious of global warming and conservation. These images show us the beauty in nature which we need to protect and preserve.”


Young Travel Photographer of the Year:
Jai Shet, USA (age 18)

Jai Shet has been traveling the world with his family ever since he could remember. He has visited several countries including New Zealand, Australia, India and the UK, and 48 states and more than 40 National Parks in his native USA. His greatest passion is landscape photography. He loves visiting lesser-known locations in the US, where he spends the days hiking and the nights photographing the stars with his younger brother. Travel has given Jai many opportunities to experience new adventures. He has gone backcountry camping, white water rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, scuba diving, ziplining, and even hiking the strenuous nine-mile trail to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. For him the end of one trip is the beginning of yet another.

Judges’ comments

“For the young photographers, travel has also been difficult so it’s not surprising to see that most of the images were shot closer to home. Jai’s photographs capture his fascination with nature through the seasons. Again these have to be viewed large to really be appreciated but when you do the detail and use of colour shine through.”


Winner , Young TPOTY (15-18 yrs):
Tevin Kim, USA (age 16)

16-year-old Tevin Kim is a travel, landscape, and wildlife photographer. Some of his earliest memories consist of him borrowing his dad’s camera when they were traveling to Bangkok or Budapest. As soon as he got his first DSLR at the age of 8, he played around with every single setting on his camera and, through trial and error, learned what they did. As he got older, Tevin learned about photography in a more traditional sense, but his initial love and passion for photography have only grown. His love for photography developed alongside his love for travel. He is fortunate enough to have travelled for as long as he can remember, and for this, he has his parents to thank as they instilled in him an appreciation for other cultures and nature. 

Judges’ comments

“Tevin’s photographs of Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park, give a stark insight into a simpler way of life – something which many of us aspire to rediscover as fast-paced modern lifestyles have been compromised in the face of a global pandemic.”

Winner, Young TPOTY (14 yrs & under):
Indigo Larmour, Ireland (age 13)

Since she first ‘borrowed’ a camera from her mother when she was 8, Indigo’s love of photography has grown and grown. She has been travelling since she was 3 weeks old and has spent lots of time living between the UAE, India and on the road with her family. “I love how I can capture the rich cultures and environments of these places using a camera and be creative in how I present it. I’m truly inspired by those making a difference to the lives of people through photography and hope to one day use my photos to create change for both humanitarian and environmental issues.”

Judges’ comments

“For the third year running, Indigo has featured amongst our young winners. Last year her compositions were outstanding, especially for one so young. This year she has taken another adventurous step forward capturing movement in a dynamic set of images.”

Runner-up – Young TPOTY (15 -18 yrs):
Nayana Rajesh, USA (age 17)

Runner-up – Young TPOTY (14 yrs & under):
Miguel Sánchez García, Spain (age 12)


Portfolios

Best 8

Winner: Alessandro Bergamini, Italy

Alessandro Bergamini was born in Finale Emilia, Italy in 1986. He started taking pictures with his father’s old reflex camera, the beginning of his artistic and spiritual journeys. During his travels in the most remote countries and places of the world, Alessandro manages to capture moments of light between time and space, in dimensions of unfamiliar cultures, to build a visual bridge between faces and places, colours and scents in an extraordinary way. He loves that silent relationship between secret lands and cultures of other worlds. His artistic path is characterized by capturing the beauty of looks and gestures, while respecting closed and private cultures.

Judges’ comments

“Although largely people-based, Alessandro’s portfolio gives a much greater insight into the communities and lives of those featured in his portraits, connecting the subject(s) and viewer intimately.”

Runner-up: Trevor Cole, Ireland

Best Single Image in a Portfolio

Winner: Alain Schroeder, Belgium

Judges’ comments

“A higher viewpoint on this maelstrom of competitive humanity gives us a vibrant insight in this event that simply would not be evident from ground level. Wherever you look there is something happening and the eye continuously roams and explores the detail.”

Special Mention (left to right)

Top row: Philip Lee Harvey, UK; Anil Sud, Canada
Second row: Linda Wride, UK; Richard Li, Hong Kong
Third row: F Dilek Uyar, Turkey; Marko Dimitrijevic, Switzerland
Fourth row: Vladimir Karamazov, Bulgaria; Felicia Simion, Romania
Bottom row: Alain Schroeder, Belgium; Tuan Nguyen Tan, Vietnam

Landscapes & Adventure

Winner: Jie Fischer, USA

Jie Fischer is not a professional photographer, but photography is an important hobby to her. It is her way of expressing herself to the world. As a child in China, she worked with her father in the dark room but gave it up for some time due to having children and a career. Ten years ago, she returned to photography, and progressed with the help of professional photographers. Her main subject is nature, especially wildlife, however she likes to broaden her work step by step, and she excels in aerial photography. She has lived on three continents, and currently lives in New York, USA.

Judges’ comments

“Aerial shots of these lakes and colonies of flamingos are not uncommon but the photographer’s vision and execution of these particular images are both striking and beautiful, with compositions which draw the eye into each image.”

Runner-up: Sophie Carr, UK

Highly commended: Yevhen Samuchenko, Ukraine

Commended: Alexej Sachov, Germany

Best Single Image in a Portfolio

Winner: Pally Learmond, UK

Judges’ comments

“Both a stunning landscape and a mad adventure catch the eye in this image. How mad is this skier? Totally exhilarating.”

Special Mention (left to right)

Mauro Tronto, Italy; Michael Runkel, Germany; Effy Varley, UK; Javier Sanchez Martínez, Spain


Living World

Winner: William Burrard-Lucas, UK

Will Burrard-Lucas is a professional photographer from the UK. In 2009 he created BeetleCam, a remote-control camera buggy, which he used to capture intimate perspectives of African wildlife. This is a tool that he continues to use in his work today. Will has also developed a range of high-quality camera trap equipment for photographing elusive and nocturnal wildlife. In 2014, he founded Camtraptions Ltd to turn his creations for camera trap photography into products for photographers and filmmakers around the world. In 2017, Will embarked on a new project titled ‘Land of Giants’. The aim of this project was to document the last of Africa’s iconic elephants with tusks reaching down to the ground, in collaboration with the Tsavo Trust. In 2019, Land of Giants was released as a coffee table book. In 2019 his rare photographs of a wild black leopard in Africa made headlines around the world. Thereafter he returned to the black leopard’s territory and worked for more than six months to capture the ultimate photograph of the animal under a starry night sky. This quest is chronicled in his new book, The Black Leopard, published in March 2021.

Judges’ comments

“The effort and planning which has gone into first finding then photographing these timid and illusive creatures, especially the black leopard, is richly rewarded in the imagery. These pictures were shot on a homemade remote camera, positioned to maximise the chances of capturing the leopards. The combination of flash and moonlight has been used with dramatic affect.”

Runner-up: Anil Sud, Canada

Highly Commended: Jose Fragozo, Portugal

Commended: Ngar Shun Victor Wong, Hong Kong

Best Single Image in a Portfolio

Winner: Jose Fragozo, Portugal

Judges’ comments

“Mud, mud, glorious mud! A fabulous image full of texture and abstract except for the hippo’s eye which then allows us to define its shape.”

Special Mention (left to right)
Scott Portelli, Australia; Zhiyue Shi, China; Yaron Schmid, USA; Tom Shlesinger, Israel

People and their Stories

Winner: Beniamino Pisati, Italy

Beniamino Pisati was born in Milan and now lives in Sondrio. A professional freelance photographer, Beniamino specialises in geographic reportage and actively collaborates with magazines and agencies in the sector. Since 2009 he has organised travel photography workshops in Italy and abroad. He has received several national and international photography awards, including previous portfolio wins in Travel Photographer of the Year. For more than 10 years he has been documenting the close relationship between man and the environment in the Valtellina mountain pastures.

Judges’ comments

“Telling the stories of people’s lives is much easier if their lives are exciting and vibrant. For most of us that is not the case but Beniamino’s portfolio of a very simple life gives an intriguing insight into its simplicity and isolation, portrayed using unconventional and striking composition.”

Runner-up: Viet Van Tran, Vietnam

Highly Commended: Mouneb Taim, Syria

Commended: F Dilek Uyar, Turkey

Best Single Image in a Portfolio

Winner: Trevor Cole, Ireland

Judges’ comments

“A powerful and unconventional portrait.”

Special Mention (left to right)
Zay Yar Lin, Myanmar; Pat Barbour, UK
James Lindsay, UK; Alain Schroeder, Belgium

One Shot – Single Image Categories

As Shot

Winner: Mouneb Taim, Syria

Born in  2001, Mouneb Taim is a photojournalist covering news stories with a focus on social issues  He began his career in photojournalism as a self-taught teenage photographer and independent reporter in 2014, where he covered life under siege in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Idlib and the countryside of Aleppo until early 2020, and documented massacres and destruction caused by air strikes and bombing almost daily. During the ten years he lived under siege in his city, this young man won many international awards for his work. 

Judges’ comments

“Welcome to the feast! A community ripped apart by war and tragedy shows its togetherness as everyone comes unites around the table and meal after the Ramadan fast. It a rich image which keeps the viewer exploring it.”

Runner up: Ignacio Palacios, Spain/Australia (left)

Highly Commended: Mauro de Bettio, Italy (right)

Commended: Jason Hioe, Indonesia, (left), Scott Portelli, Australia (right)


Green Planet

Winner: Johnny Haglund, Norway

Johnny Haglund was educated as an electronic engineer, but was not made to spend his life working within four walls. Since 1988 he has travelled the world, always with a camera, and in 1994 he had his first story published. Today he works full time as a freelance photographer and writer. He sometimes accepts assignments, but for most of his stories he does everything from research to writing. Traveling and taking photos is a lot more than just a job to him – it’s a lifestyle and a hobby he would do for the rest of his life even if he won a million dollars in the lottery tomorrow! Johnny is on the road between four to six months every year, and will probably continue with this until he is 100 years old…

Judges’ comments

“What are we doing to our incredible planet? This image highlights and brings home man’s apathetic and negligent attitude to everything which has sustained the human race for millennia. How can anyone look at this – a people, a community, an administration, a nation, a continent, a world – and think that this is acceptable and that we shouldn’t be doing more to change it?”

Runner-up: Pinu Rahman, Bangladesh (left)

Highly commended: Doron Talmi, Israel (right)

Commended: Panos Laskarakis, Greece; Ewan Crosbie, UK; Joe Stermitz, USA


Icons of Travel

Winner: Alain Schroeder, Belgium

Belgian photojournalist Alain Schroeder has been working in the industry for over four decades, first as a sports photographer in the 80s, then shooting book assignments (more than 30) and editorial pieces in art, culture and human stories. In 1989, he co-founded the Belgian photo agency, Reporters, leading the business from the golden years of analog photography into the digital age. In 2013, he uprooted his life, trading-in his shares in Reporters, to pursue life on the road with a camera. Schroeder now travels the world shooting stories focusing on social issues, people and their environment and has won many major awards. In spite of his success in this single image category in TPOTY, he says “I am not a single shot photographer. I think in series. I strive to tell a story in 10-15 pictures, capturing the essence of an instant with a sense of light and framing.”

Judges’ comments

“We have all seen images iconic statues of heads of state but the strength of this image is in the people – the group of students learning their state’s history cleverly contrasted with the stooped old woman who has lived it.

Runner-up: Alain Schroeder, Belgium

Highly Commended: Pinu Rahman, Bangladesh

Commended: James Rushforth, UK


Smartshot

iTravelled

Winner: Viet Van Tran, Vietnam

Born in Ha Noi, Vietnam, Viet Van Tran received a Cultural Bachelor degree from Ha Noi Cultural University in 1996. Upon graduating he began a career in journalism and now works as a special reporter for Lao Dong – one of the largest newspapers in Vietnam. He started photography in 1998. He has had 10 solo exhibitions, including ‘My Mum’ in Photometria (Greece) and has been a part of over 35 group exhibitions in Asia, Europe and the USA, including the Fifth Exposure Annual Awards at the Louvre Museum, Paris, France (digital). He has won over 80 international photo prizes, is a judge of many film festivals and photo contests in Vietnam and his pictures are published in many books and magazines. 

Judges’ comments

A lovely composition using colour and shape to capture a 90 year old shoemaker’s craft.”

Runner-up: Mithail Afrige Chowdhury, Bangladesh

Highly Commended: James Lindsay, UK (top right)

Commended: Pier Luigi Dodi, Italy (bottom right)


People’s Choice

Winner: Dani Salvà, Spain

Dani Salvà combines photography with his job as a teacher. His main photographic genres have been documentary, travel, sport and mountain photography but lately he has also become enthusiastic about photographing fauna. He started taking photographs during a trip to Nepal to trek to the Everest Base camp in the Himalayas. He originally shot film and slides but quickly moved to digital.  He studied with famous Spanish photographers including Tino Soriano, Pep Bonet and Navia and has a degree in photojournalism from Girona University. His images have been published in international and local media and he works with sports agencies and tourist organisations. As a travel photographer, one of his favourite destinations is the Asian continent, a continent he has visited many times and he has a special attraction for the Silk Road and the Indian subcontinent.  

This is the only category in which the TPOTY judges do not select the winner. Instead, some 130 finalist images appeared on the TPOTY website and were voted for by the general public, with Dani Salvà’s image of preparations for the ‘Dance of Death’ in Verges, Spain, receiving the most votes.


Travel Shorts (video)

Winner: Philip Lee Harvey, UK

Nekessa’s Story

Philip Lee Harvey is an accomplished photographer and filmmaker, based in London. His career has taken him to every continent, working for editorial clients such as, The Telegraph, Travel + Leisure, Lonely Planet magazine, Vanity Fair, Tatler and GEO. He is also a contributing photographer for Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Philip has received prestigious awards for both still and moving images: including Travel Photographer of the Year. Above all, Philip believes his work should capture the spirit of the people he meets, and the soul of the places he travels.

Judges’ comments

“A wonderful, uplifting story of a young woman who becomes a seamstress, in Nekessa’s own words.”

Runner-up: Eyal Gamili Holtzeker, USA

The Story of Cuba

Highly Commended: Mouneb Taim, Syria

Syria war

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.