From lyrically beautiful images of European agricultural landscapes to heartbreaking aerial shots of elephants searching for food on rubbish dumps, and from intriguing portraits of shamans performing rituals on a frozen Siberian lake to an inspirational portfolio showing athletes still competing in their 80s and 90s and photographs capturing the friendship between a rescued pangolin and her carer, the winning images in the 2023 international Travel Photographer of the Year awards show us the highs and lows of life on this planet, captured through the lenses of enormously talented photographers of all ages from around the globe.
Amateur and professional photographers from more than 150 countries submitted more than 20,000 images in TPOTY 2023. The winning and placed entries combine to form a truly outstanding collection of contemporary travel photography. The winning shots – which can all be viewed in the online Winners’ Gallery on tpoty.com – will first go on display at The Photography & Video Show at the NEC, Birmingham, UK from 16-19 March and will also be showcased at Xposure in the UAE.
For the second year in a row, a Slovenian photographer has taken the overall honours. The Travel Photographer of the Year 2023, AndreJa Ravnak, follows in the footsteps of her fellow countryman Matjaz Krivic, who took the title in 2022. AndreJa’s depiction of hop growing in Slovenia and her images of rolling fields in Italy and Czechia (Czech Republic) combine a fairytale beauty with the structure one might expect from her ‘regular job’ as an architect.
TPOTY founder Chris Coe said: “There is a subtle elegance about this year’s winners. This comes through in both of AndreJa’s winning portfolios; one takes us into simple landscapes, with delicate colours and a textural beauty, the other into the hop fields, out of season and undressed ready for the next planting. Neither are obvious subjects, neither photographed at an optimal time of year, and yet they are both engaging and rather beautiful.”
AndreJa Ravnak commented: “Becoming Travel Photographer of the Year is a huge recognition. From my personal experience, I know it’s not easy to judge photography. Images are not measurable, so being a judge is a complex task and responsibility. I would like to thank the panel of judges for recognizing my work. I’ve seen many excellent and creative photos in this year’s TPOTY final and it’s such a great honour to find my work recognised. Congratulations to all the winners; together, we are enthusiastically documenting this wonderful world, and perhaps this is a small contribution, a reminder to preserve its wonder for future generations.”
Travel Photographer of the Year celebrates the potential stars of the future through the Young TPOTY awards – and this year all three young category winners are from the United States. 14-year-old Caden Shepard Choi received the title of Young Travel Photographer of the Year 2023 for her highly accomplished and well observed black and white story of how the Navajo people of Chinle, Arizona produce wool, and use it in weaving. Another young female photographer – 17-year-old Lilly Zhang – took top honours in the Young TPOTY 15-18 years category with an impeccable series of delicate landscapes shot in Marsh Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, USA. And the Young TPOTY 14 years and under category was won by 14-year-old Zayan Durrani for his glorious images showing the erupting Litli-Hrutur volcano in Iceland.
AndreJa Ravnak’s prize includes a £1000 cash bursary from TPOTY, a personalised leather portfolio book or iFolio from Plastic Sandwich, Radiant Photo imaging software, a portfolio review from top New York agent Frank Meo, plus copies of travel and drinks magazine Tonic and membership of the Royal Photographic Society. Caden Shepard Choi receives £500 from TPOTY, a Plastic Sandwich leather portfolio book or iFolio, Radiant Photo imaging software, a place on a Photo Iconic photography workshop (or photo critique) plus Royal Photographic Society membership.
Individual categories and awards
French photographer Armand Sarlangue won the Landscape & Environment portfolio category with an atmospheric series of images of the lush glacial landscapes of the Icelandic highlands. Japanese photographer Kazuaki Koseki’s delicate image of the ‘submerged forest’ created by reflections in Lake Shirakawa, Japan, won Best Single Image award in this category.
Martin Broen’s striking black and white images showing the dynamic patterns created by the Mobula ray migration in Baja California in Mexico secured top honours in the Nature, Wildlife & Conservation category. And Martin also won the award for Best Single Image in this category for his colourful and thought-provoking image showing how a discarded glass bottle in the ocean has become a ‘crystal palace’ for a small, iridescent fish.
Greek photographer Athanasios Maloukos’ fascinating portfolio of shamans performing rituals on Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal was the judges’ choice in the People and Cultures category, while Jack Lawson (UK) received the Best Single Image award for his image of members of Nigeria’s national amputee football team, the Special Eagles, training on the beach.
A former winner of Travel Photographer of the Year and regular name on the TPOTY winner list in recent years, the Belgian photographer Alain Schroeder, was the winner of the Visual Stories portfolio. Alain’s series focusing on athletes in their 80s and 90s taking part in the USAFT Masters Indoor Athletics Championships is inspirational and moving. F.Dilek Yurdakul (Turkey), was awarded Best Single Image in this category for her portrait of a young Kalash schoolgirl in Chitral, Pakistan.
Portfolio category prizes included TPOTY cash bursaries, a signed print by Nat Geo explorer/photographer and Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation co-founder Chris Rainier, Genesis Imaging exhibition prints, Radiant Photo imaging software, copies of Tonic magazine and membership of the Royal Photographic Society.
This year Travel Photographer of the Year welcomed MPB, the largest global platform to buy, sell and trade used photography and videography kit, to the TPOTY sponsor line-up for the first time. The three MPB One Shot categories challenged photographers to capture each category theme in just a single image – no easy task! The winner of MPB One Shot: A Quieter Life was Ignacio Palacios (Australia/Spain) for his serene image of a lone walker on a white sand dune at La Puna, Argentina. Dutch photographer Josien van Geffen’s unusual perspective of the Highline 197 suspension bridge in Reutte, Austria, plays with viewpoint and plays tricks on the mind at first glance. It was the winner of MPB One Shot: Above, Eye Level, Below. And Italian photographer Andrea Peruzzi’s joyous image capturing an adventurous moment when a Bedouin jumps over a small gorge between rocks in ancient Petra, Jordan took first prize in MPB One Shot: Leisure & Adventure.
MPB also supported the HD video category, World in Motion, which was won by British photographer and filmmaker Matthew Williams-Ellis for Karibu Nyumbani, a thought-provoking short film highlighting the beauty and depleted wildlife populations of the Mara North Conservancy, in Kenya.
All MPB One Shot winners and the MPB World in Motion winner receive £1,000 to spend on photographic equipment with MPB. They also receive Radiant Photo imaging software, copies of Tonic magazine and membership of the Royal Photographic Society.
The winner in one category was not chosen by the judges. The People’s Choice award was decided by members of the public voting on the TPOTY website – and this year the winner is aged just 15. The winning image, by Rohan Neel Shah (Kenya), shows a bewildered lone wildebeest in the middle of the frenzy that is the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara.
In this year’s awards, three of the finalists will receive an unusual opportunity to have their work reviewed by a top New York photographers’ agent, Frank Meo from The PhotoCloser. The selected photographers are Caden Shepard Choi (USA), F Dilek Yurdakul (Turkey) and Jack Lawson (UK).
The awards are judged anonymously by a 16-strong international panel of imaging experts, who give their time and expertise freely to judge the awards. This year TPOTY welcomes three new judges to the panel: New York-based photographer’s agent, Frank Meo, wildlife, conservation and National Geographic photographer Jason Edwards and editorial photographer and Royal Photographic Society President, Simon Hill. All judging is completed ‘blind’ – the judges do not know the identity or nationality of any entrants – and finalists must provide the RAW/original image files for the final judging stage to confirm the validity of their entries.