The Absolute Travel Photo Contest entries, below, allowed us to see the world through your own distinctive lens: an encounter with a shaman in Botswana, a quiet moment between a rescued elephant and her savior in Thailand, a young boy peeking at trekkers passing by on Everest, and local children’s expressions on a dugout canoe adventure in the Solomon Islands. Out of hundreds of fascinating photographs, we’re proud to announce the winning shot and four honorable mentions…
Photographer: Ana Cissa Pinto
The Story Behind the Photograph: “On this special day, my mother and I were fortunate enough to be invited to visit the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen in a remote settlement in the Western Kalahari. As we approached the tribe we were welcomed by the Shaman lady and her family. She was so beautiful and she loved my bracelets and necklace. I loved her beautiful beads as well so we tried to communicate, with mostly smiles and gestures since she didn’t speak english nor I speak their language. It’s so interesting that those tribes speak in “clicks” and not words. I had never heard a language like that in my life! I was blown away. Both the shaman lady and I had a very sweet connection. That same evening we were invited for a ceremony with dance and mantra singing around a big fire and It was incredible. So intense, I cried, I went into a trance, it was a totally unbelievable and unforgettable moment in my life!”
Photographer: Ret Talbot
Destination: Solomon Islands
The Story Behind the Photograph: “I was on assignment in the Ngella Islands, a remote island group in Solomon Islands, and I was photographing an artisanal fisher. The fisher would hold his breath on these incredibly long free dives–so long, in fact, that I would often shoot a few images come up for a breath and then go back down to photograph him on ascent. I had just surfaced to get a breath when I saw these boys paddling out in the canoe. Word travels fast when “a white guy” shows up in one of these villages, and the kids wanted to check me out. I smiled at them, made the image and then immediately dove back down to continue working. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later when I got home that I “found” this image and fell in love with it.”
Photographer: Elizabeth Branca
The Story Behind the Photograph: “Promoting responsible tourism and elephant conservation since 1996, the Elephant Nature Park offers volunteers a unique opportunity to care for the sanctuary’s 35 rescued elephants. This photo captures the organizations founder Sangduen Chailert, better known as Lek, and her incredible bond with elephants. During an evening feeding Lek worked to calm a young male elephant by stroking his face and singing a Thai lullaby.”
Photographer: Molly Macindoe
The Story Behind the Photograph: “I was nearing the end of an unforgettable five-week journey around Iran with a few days left in Tehran, time for some last minute shopping near Park-e Laleh, and, led by some unconscious instinct, stepped into a small, unpromising shop. Compared to the many antique shops and bazaar stalls I’d seen on my trip, brimming over with enticing Persian handicrafts, this one was pretty threadbare, with maybe 20 odd items on display. The elderly owner was delighted to see my friend and me; like so many random Iranians, he was overly friendly and welcoming – there are so few tourists there in these post-revolutionary days. He relished the rare opportunity to practice his English, wistfully recalling stories of when the Americans were in Iran under the Shah and all the U.S friends he had, sporting a mischievous grin. We were quite touched when the man then dusted off an old photo album and took out this picture of his younger self. Our impression was that he kept this obviously unprofitable shop open just to while away the succession of dusty days.
It would’ve been rude to leave without a purchase. There wasn’t much to choose from, but after some sifting, I found and bought some almost-matching lapis lazuli and silver earrings that my mum later treasured as her Christmas present.”
Photographer: Michael Chambers
The Story Behind the Photograph: “After asking for his mother’s permission, I snapped this shot in the bustling Namche Bazaar while leading a trek to Everest Base Camp in October of 2011. Jamling (the little boy in the picture) is the son of a Khumbu Icefall Doctor, a highly-specialized climbing sherpa who fixes ladders through the crevasse-riddled Khumbu Icefall enabling climbers safe passage through the most dangerous section on Mt. Everest. Until he’s old enough to accompany dad on Everest, Jamling stays home helping his mother and grandparents run a Tea lodge in the Namche Bazaar!”
Explore the rest of the Absolute Travel Photo Contest 2012 entries, here. Thank you to everyone that entered–we are already looking forward to next year!