A photograph of a horseman in Inner Mongolia has earned Anthony Lau of Hong Kong the prestigious title of 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year. Lau, whose photo was selected from thousands of entries, also wins a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
Lau took the photo, titled “Winter Horseman,” in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China after an early morning hike. He and his travel companions were driving back to their hotel for breakfast when they came across a team of riders showing off their skills.
“The snow was getting heavier, the wind was getting stronger, the morning snow was getting thinner and the light was moving away from its optimal position,” Lau said. “I knew I only had a couple of shots to get the best out of this encounter. With a bit of luck, one of my final attempts managed to capture the moment when one of the riders charged out from the morning mist along with his horses.”
National Geographic Travel photography captures the awe-inspiring diversity of the world’s people, places and cultures. This contest recognizes the most compelling travel photography taken in the past two years, with entries in three categories: Nature, People and Cities.
First-, second- and third-place prizes were awarded in each category. Lau’s photo placed first in the People category, while Takashi Nakagawa of Tokyo took top honors in the Cities category for his photo “Ben Youssef,” and “Wherever you go, I will follow you!!” shot by Hiroki Inoue of Hokkaido, Japan, led the field in Nature.
First-place winners received a Sony a6300 camera supplied by B&H Photo, second-place winners received National Geographic’s The Art of Travel Photography course on DVD and third-place winners received a National Geographic book. All winners received a subscription to National Geographic Traveler magazine. The winning photos may be viewed online on the National Geographic Travel website.
“We are thrilled to name Anthony Lau as our first-ever National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year,” said George Stone, editor in chief of National Geographic Travel. “We were blown away by the entries we received from around the world, and it’s clear our passion for visual storytelling is shared by our readers.”
Anne Farrar, director of photography for National Geographic Travel, was joined on the judging panel by Corey Arnold, contributing photographer for National Geographic Magazine, and Foster Huntington, a photographer and filmmaker.
As grand-prize winner, Lau will embark on a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, where guests can settle into a cozy lodge on the banks of the Hudson Bay, and head out on guided excursions by foot to photograph polar bears and other wildlife against a dramatic landscape of snow and ice. Guests will also enjoy incredible cuisine and stories around the fireplace, and then step into the night to capture the mesmerizing northern lights. The trip is provided by National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, a collection of extraordinary properties that are selected for the outstanding guest service and experiences they offer, and for their leadership in sustainable tourism and commitment to protecting cultural and natural heritage.
National Geographic Travel creates authentic, meaningful and engaging travel experiences through National Geographic Traveler magazine; National Geographic Expeditions; National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World; travel books; maps; digital travel content; and travel photography programs. National Geographic Traveler (six issues per year) is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and has 16 local-language editions. National Geographic Expeditions offers a variety of unique travel experiences led by top experts to more than 80 destinations across all seven continents. Travel opportunities include family and student expeditions, active adventures, journeys with G Adventures, private jet trips and voyages on the six expedition ships in the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, as well as photography workshops, expeditions and seminars. The National Geographic Travel digital group, shares its inspiring and authoritative digital content such as trip ideas, photo galleries, blogs and apps with its @NatGeoTravel community of 14 million. National Geographic Travel books bring readers curated travel advice, photography and insider tips.