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Travel Photographer of the Year 2021 winners revealed

January 31, 2022

The winning images in the global 2021 Travel Photographer of the Year awards (TPOTY) have been revealed with Italian photographer Fortunato Gatto being chosen as the overall Travel Photographer of the Year 2021.

Gatto has been based in Scotland since 2007, and his love of his adopted country is reflected in his detailed abstract images of patterns in the sand in the Hebrides, which formed part of his winning selection. Gatto’s winning portfolio also included his images of a ‘meeting of the seasons’ in Alaska, showing scenes shot in Denali National Park, which is one of world’s most beautiful remote places. Gatto’s prize included a Fujifilm X-T4 cameras with lens, a £1000 cash bursary from TPOTY, a personalised leather portfolio book or iFolio from Plastic Sandwich, a LEE Filter kit, print and digital copies of JRNY travel magazine and membership of the Royal Photographic Society.

TPOTY 2021 winner Fortunato Gallo's image of a beach at South Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

TPOTY 2021 winner Fortunato Gallo’s image of a beach at South Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. He explained, ‘I love to wander on this beach in perfect solitude, where nature inspires me and shows me natural metaphors like this sort of ‘jellyfish’ made by the tide force and weather erosion.’ Canon 5D Mk III, 24-70mm lens, f13, 8sec, ISO 100. Image: Fortunato Gallo/www.tpoty.com

TPOTY 2021 winner Fortunato Gatto's image of Eigg, Small Isles, Scotland

TPOTY 2021 winner Fortunato Gatto’s image of Eigg, Small Isles, Scotland. He revealed, ‘I was alone in this place for about two weeks. I observed the tidal phenomenon for days until I could see peaks drawn in the sand, with the reflection of the clouds in the middle.’ Canon 5D Mk III, 24-70mm lens, f13, 1/4sec, ISO 100. Image: Fortunato Gallo/www.tpoty.com

TPOTY 2021 winner Fortunato Gallo's image of Polychrome Pass, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA

TPOTY 2021 winner Fortunato Gallo’s image of Polychrome Pass, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA. He said, ‘I took this picture just before a grizzly bear showed up. The fresh snow covering the mountains in the background was the perfect frame for this special meeting between autumn and winter.’ Canon 5D Mk III, 70-200mm lens, f13, 1/1250sec, ISO 640. Image: Fortunato Gallo/www.tpoty.com

Images submitted from 151 countries

The 2021 TPOTY competition attracted some 20,000 images, which were submitted from photographers in 151 countries. The winning images will go on display in a free-to-view, outdoor exhibition to be held at Granary Square, London (near King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations) in April and May 2022.

TPOTY’s founder Chris Coe revealed, ‘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 we have kept our exhibitions running in safe outdoor spaces. The winning images and those received from all entrants, are testament to the tenacity, creativity and ingenuity of travelling photographers. 2022 is TPOTY’s 20th award and we look forward to celebrating even more of the best travel-related photography from around the world.’


Young TPOTY winners

Two young photographers from the US caught the judges’ eye in the Young TPOTY contest. 18-year-old Jai Shet’s series of forest images capturing the seasons won him the title of Young Travel Photographer of the Year. His fellow American, 16-year-old Tevin Kim, won the 15-18 Year category for images of homes and barns in ‘Mormon Row’, Wyoming. Meanwhile, 13-year-old Indigo Larmour from Ireland took top honours in the ’14 and Under’ category with a ‘dynamic portfolio’ that captured camel racing in Sharjah – it was the third year in succession she’d featured in the Young TPOTY ‘roll of honour’.

One of Young TPOTY 2021 winner Jai Shet's forest images shot in Magnolia Ridge Park, Woodville, Texas, US

One of Young TPOTY 2021 winner Jai Shet’s forest images shot in Magnolia Ridge Park, Woodville, Texas, USA. His portfolio is a series of forest images taken during different seasons of the year. Each forest is a different colour of the rainbow. Bright reds of fall in Texas, warm yellows of summer in Wyoming, lush greens of spring in California, and cold blues of winter in Colorado. Canon 5D Mk III, 24-105mm lens, f16, 0.7sec, ISO 100. Image: Jai Shet/www.tpoty.com

One of Young TPOTY 2021 14-18 winner Tevin Kim's shots of 'Mormon Row', Grand Teton National Park, Moose, Wyoming, USA

One of Young TPOTY 2021, 15-18 winner, Tevin Kim’s shots of ‘Mormon Row’, Grand Teton National Park, Moose, Wyoming, USA. He explained, ‘The green of the roof and grass in this image helps to give this photo a calming and inviting feel. Like the red house before it, this house evokes a sense of homeliness. The path that leads to the house nicely divides the photo, but more importantly, it adds to the welcoming feel.’ Sony a7R III, 28-70mm lens, f5.6, 1/640sec, ISO 100. Image: Tevin Kim/www.tpoty.com

One of Young TPOTY 2021 winner, 14 and under category, Indigo Larmour's images of camel racing, Al Dhaid, Sharjah, UAE

One of Young TPOTY 2021 winner, 14 and under category, Indigo Larmour’s images of camel racing, Al Dhaid, Sharjah, UAE. She revealed, ‘When rushing to get the best spots, lots of dust and sand is kicked up by both people and camels.’ Nikon D600, 24-85mm lens, f5.6, 1/640sec, ISO 800. Image: Indigo Larmour/www.tpoty.com


‘Best 8’ category

Italian photographer Alessandro Bergamini won the ‘Best 8’ portfolio category with eight images that gave great insight into the lives and communities of his subjects in Afghanistan, China, India, Myanmar and Russia. Belgian Alain Schroeder’s action-packed black and white image of hundreds of men on horseback competing to win a game of ‘dead goat polo’ in Kyrgyzstan was voted the Best Single Image winner of the Best 8 category.

One of TPOTY 2021 'Best 8' portfolio winner winner Alessandro Bergamini's winning images. This was shot in Jodhpur, India

One of TPOTY 2021 ‘Best 8’ portfolio winner winner Alessandro Bergamini’s winning images. This was shot in Jodhpur, India. He revealed, ‘This young Muslim girl had her face completely covered, although her graceful features can be seen through the fabric. She looked at a nearby man, seeking consent to remove her veil, and he gave her permission to do so. The photo was taken at the exact moment she was about to push aside the red veil.’ Canon 5D Mk II, 35mm lens, f1.4, 1/4000sec, ISO 100. Image: Alesssandro Bergamini/www.tpoty.com

Alain Schroeder won the 'Best 8: Best Single Image' in the TPOTY 2021 awards with this image of 'dead goat polo' shot in Kyrgyzstan

Alain Schroeder won the ‘Best 8: Best Single Image’ in the TPOTY 2021 awards with this image of ‘dead goat polo’ shot in Kyrgyzstan. He explained, ‘In the village of Uzgen, Osh region, more than 170 horses (in this picture) and men wearing the classic Soviet tank hat or a Kyrgyz tebetei hat, push and shove each other with dexterity and endurance in fearless combat as they fight for possession of a young 60kg bull. A wealthy local man, has organised a massive game of Alaman-Ulak (a freestyle version of the national sport, Kok Buru – known by some as ‘dead goat polo’) to celebrate the 13th birthday of his son.’ Fujifilm X-T4, f5.6, 1/1000sec, ISO 1250. Image: Alain Schroeder/www.tpoty.com


‘Landscapes & Adventure’ category

The US photographer Jie Fischer was the winner of the ‘Landscapes & Adventure’ category with a colourful, almost abstract portfolio depicting flamingos over the remarkable coloured waters of Lake Magadi in Kenya. Professional ski photographer Pally Learmond (UK) won the Best Single Image award with his striking image of a free-skier on ‘Dirty Needle’ mountain in Alaska, USA.

One of TPOTY 2021 'Landscapes & Adventure' portfolio winner Jie Fischer's images from Lake Magadi, Kenya

One of TPOTY 2021 ‘Landscapes & Adventure’ portfolio winner Jie Fischer’s images from Lake Magadi, Kenya. She explained, ‘Lake Magadi is one of the inland lakes at the southernmost point of Kenya, belonging to the Rift Valley area of Kenya, formed by fault subsidence. During the dry season, it is 80% covered by sodium carbonate and is well known for its wading birds, including flamingos. In the dry season, there will be salt deposits around the lake, forming colourful patterns, depending on wind and wave. Large numbers of flamingos are often seen here.’ Nikon D850, 70-200mm lens, f/2.8, 1/2000sec, ISO 360. Image: Jie Fischer/www.tpoty.com

Pally Learmond won the 'Landscapes & Adventure: Best Single Image' category of TPOTY 2021 with this shot of a single skier in Alaska

Pally Learmond won the ‘Landscapes & Adventure: Best Single Image’ category of TPOTY 2021 with this shot of a single skier in Haines, Alaska, USA. He revealed, ‘Due to the close proximity of the Pacific Ocean, snow sticks to the mountains of southeast Alaska like nowhere else on earth. This creates a phenomenon called “spines” which form on top of the normally steep and rocky mountain faces. This provides professional free-ride skiers with a playground like no other. In this photo, Austrian professional free-skier Fabian Lentsch lets it all go on a mountain face called “Dirty Needle”.’ Nikon D4, 400mm lens with 2.8 tele converter, f8, 1/2000sec, ISO 200. Image: Pally Learmond/www.tpoty.com


‘Living World’ category

The Living World category was won by British photographer Will Burrard-Lucas, using his self-developed Camtraptions camera trap system to capture images of leopards – including rare melanistic leopards – at night in Kenya. One of Burrard-Lucas’ images was a long exposure shot combined with flash making the leopard appear to emerge from the stars. The Best Single Image award in this category went to the Portuguese photographer Jose Fragozo, whose patience and knowledge of hippos enabled him to capture the precise moment one of these powerful creatures opened its eye as it rose from a mud pool.

One of TPOTY 2021 'Living World' portfolio winner Will Burrard-Lucas' images of leopards at night

One of TPOTY 2021 ‘Living World’ portfolio winner Will Burrard-Lucas’ images of leopards at night in Laikipia County, Kenya. He explained, ‘I spent a year photographing leopards at night using a Camtraptions camera trap system in Kenya. To expose a leopard with stars in the sky at night required a long exposure time to expose the stars and a flash to expose the foreground. On this night, the leopard came past while the moon was still above the horizon, which resulted in this ghostly image.’ Canon 1D X, 24mm lens, f7.1, 30sec, ISO 3200. Image: Will Burrard-Lucas/www.tpoty.com

Jose Fragozo won the 'Living World: Best Single Image' category of 2021 TPOTY with this image of a hippo emerging from mud at the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Jose Fragozo won the ‘Living World: Best Single Image’ category of 2021 TPOTY with this image of a hippo emerging from mud at the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. He revealed, ‘An eye blinked in the drought-stricken mud pool as the hippopotamus emerged to take a breath. I was watching two hippos from my vehicle, and the challenge was to catch the eye when it was open. Having observed hippos for years, I knew that they only come up for air every three to five minutes.’ Canon 1D X II, 200-400mm lens, f11, 1/1000sec, ISO 2000. Image: Jose Fragozo/www.tpoty.com


‘People & Their Stories’ category

Italian photographer Beniamino Pisati won the ‘People & Their Stories’ category with his black and white portfolio that documented the lives of milk and cheese producers in the mountains of Lombardy. Irish photographer Trevor Cole received the Best Single Image award in this category for his portrait of a young cattle herder in South Sudan.

One of the images from Beniamino Pisati's 'People & Their Stories' winning portfolio shot in Italy for in TPOTY 2021

One of the images from Beniamino Pisati’s ‘People & Their Stories’ winning portfolio shot in Italy for in TPOTY 2021, Alpe Caldenno, Sondrio, Lombardy, Italy. He explained, ‘Claudio Speziale is descended from several generations of herdsmen. Every night he sleeps in an underground hut the size of a coffin, known in local dialect as a ‘bait’. Even though he owns a comfortable stone house in his alp, he prefers being close to his cows in the pastures.’ Sony a7R III, 20mm lens, f3.5, 1/8sec, ISO 8000. Image: Beniamino Pisati/www.tpoty.com

Trevor Cole won the 'People & Their Stories: best single image' category of TPOTY 2021 with this shot of a young herder in South Sudan

Trevor Cole won the ‘People & Their Stories: best single image’ category of TPOTY 2021 with this shot of a young herder in Terekeka, South Sudan. He explained, ‘A young Mundari herder immersing himself in fresh urine from his Ankle Watusi cow. The outcome of this is to make use of a natural antiseptic and to change their hair colour to red or even bleached blonde!’ Nikon D850, 70-200mm lens, f2.8, 1/400s, ISO 640. Image: Trevor Cole/www.tpoty.com


Single image categories

In the single image categories, Alain Schroeder took first and second places in ‘Icons of Travel’, with his image of the Mansudae Grand Monument in Pyongyang, North Korea taking first prize. Norwegian Johnny Haglund’s image of waste pollution in Belèm, Brazil was the graphic and poignant winner of the ‘Green Planet’ category at a time when man’s impact on the planet is in the spotlight. Syrian photojournalist Mouneb Taim received first prize in the ‘As Shot’ category for his drone shot of a mass Ramadan breakfast held in the ruins of a bomb-damaged Syrian town.

Alain Schroeder's image of Pyongyang, North Korea, that won the 'One Shot: Icons of Travel' category of the 2021 TPOTY competition.

Alain Schroeder’s image of Pyongyang, North Korea, that won the ‘One Shot: Icons of Travel’ category of the 2021 TPOTY competition. He revealed, ‘An old woman walks under the Mansudae Grand Monument with its 22m-high bronze statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il while a group of students listens to their teacher.’  Fujifilm X-Pro 2, 55mm lens, f16, 1/1000sec, ISO 640. Image: Alain Schroeder/www.tpoty.com

Johnny Haglund's image, shot in Brazil, that won the 'One Shot - Green Planet' category of the 2021 TPOTY competition.

Johnny Haglund’s image, shot in Belèm, Brazil, that won the ‘One Shot – Green Planet’ category of the 2021 TPOTY competition. He revealed, ‘At low tide the harbour area in Belém exposes all the garbage that has been thrown into sea. A man walks here trying to find something valuable like bottles, cans and more.’ CanonR6, 24-70mm lens, f5.6, 1/25sec, ISO 10,000. Image: Johnny Haglund/www.tpoty.com

Mouneb Taim won the 'One Shot: As Shot' category of TPOTY 2021 with this image of Idlib, Syria.

Photojournalist Mouneb Taim won the ‘One Shot: As Shot’ category of TPOTY 2021 with this image of Idlib, Syria. He explained, ‘This Syrian neighbourhood was famous before the war as the scene of mass breakfasts every Ramadan. The population was displaced during the war, due to heavy bombing. They eventually returned after a period of relative calm, but the neighbourhood was almost completely destroyed, so now the people of Idlib break their fast together among the destruction of their city instead.’ DJI Mavic 2. Image: Mouneb Taim/www.tpoty.com


iTravelled category

The ‘iTravelled’ category for images shot on a mobile phone or tablet was won by the Vietnamese photographer Viet Van Tran, for his colourful image of a 90-year-old shoemaker in Saigon.

Viet Van Tran won the 'iTravelled: phone/tablet' single image category of the 2021 TPOTY competition with image taken in Saigon.

Viet Van Tran won the ‘iTravelled: phone/tablet’ single image category of the 2021 TPOTY competition with this image taken in Saigon, Vietnam. He explained, ‘Mr. Trinh Ngoc, a shoemaker in Saigon, is still working at the age of 90. He studied at L’École ABC De Dessin School in Paris, France. For decades, Mr. Trinh Ngoc made shoes for the Royal Cambodian royal family, from the Queen to Prince Sihanouk, and for many famous Vietnamese singers.’ iPhone 7 Plus, f1.8, 1/25sec, ISO 32. Image: Viet Van Tran/www.tpoty.com


People’s Choice award

The People’s Choice award was decided by members of the public voting on the TPOTY website. The winning image, chosen from 10,419 votes, is by Spanish photographer Dani Salvà and shows preparations for the ‘Dance of Death’ in Verges, Spain.

Dani Salvà won the 'People's Choice' award in the 2021 TPOTY competition with this 'Dance of Death' image shot in Catalonia, Spain

Dani Salvà won the ‘People’s Choice’ award in the 2021 TPOTY competition with this ‘Dance of Death’ image shot in Verges, Catalonia, Spain. He explained, ‘Preparing for “the Dance of Death”, in which five skeletons jump to the beat of a drum. Although it is part of the staging of the Passion of Jesus Christ through the streets and squares of the town, the dance has achieved international fame, as a unique and ancestral painting, a legacy of the macabre dances of the Catalan and European Middle Ages.’ Canon 6D, 24-105mm lens, f4, 1/125sec, ISO 6400. Image: Dani Salvà/www.tpoty.com


The portfolio category prizes included Fujifilm X-T4 cameras with lenses, an international photography adventure with Chris Weston Photography, Genesis Imaging exhibition prints, LEE Filter kits and membership of the Royal Photographic Society. The ‘single image’ prizes included cash bursaries, a signed, framed limited-edition print by Chris Weston from Animals on the Edge, print and digital copies of JRNY travel magazine and membership of the Royal Photographic Society.


Travel Shorts video category

The British photographer and filmmaker Philip Lee Harvey won the Travel Shorts video category, with an uplifting video showing the fantastic results of the work of Spotlight on Africa, training seamstresses in Musoto, Uganda.


Blind judging

The TPOTY awards were judged ‘blind’ by an international panel of vastly experienced photographers and experts in the field. The judges don’t know the identity or nationality of any entrants and finalists must provide the RAW/original image files for the final judging stage.

The 2021 TPOTY judges were:

• Linda Barberic (producer & art director)

• Keith Berr (advertising & charity project photographer)

• Daria Bonera (photographers’ agent & National Geographic Italy)

• Cheryl Brophy Chan (former Picture Editor – Corbis)

• Chris Coe (photographer & TPOTY Founder)

• Richard Dunwoody (photographer & champion jockey)

• Colin Finlay (stock photography expert & print collector)

• Jeremy Hoare (photographer & TV cameraman)

• Debbie Ireland (RPS Curator, author & former Director of Photography at AA Publishing)

• Brigitte Lardinois (Head of Art & Photography, LCC & former Magnum curator)

• Eamonn McCabe (award winning photographer & picture editor, TV & radio presenter)

• Caroline Metcalfe (former Director of Photography at Condé Nast)

• Michael Pritchard (Director of Education and Public Affairs at Royal Photographic Society)

• Mary Robert (Director of Photography, American University, London)

• Manfred Zollner (Editor-in-Chief of Fotomagazin, Germany)


To find out more about the TPOTY awards and discover details of the upcoming 2022 competition go to: TPOTY – The leading global travel photography award


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