Worth a thousand words or not, a great photograph elicits – forgive us for the millennial speak – all the feels. The annual National Geographic Travel Photographer contest winners have been announced, and the photographs are so beautiful, NatGeo is even letting you keep them as your desktop wallpapers.
Here are the top threes of each category: nature, cities and people.
#1 Mermaid by Reiko Takahashi, grand prize winner
Imagine snorkeling and meeting a whale and her calf! Reiko bumped into a humpback whale and her calf near Kumejima Island, and the rest was photography magic.
#2 Flamingos Take Off by Hao J.
It would have been ironic if this was a krill swarm (because humpbacks eat krill, ha ha), but those tiny spots are actually thousands of flamingos taking off from Lake Natron, Tanzania, seen from a helicopter.
#3 Mars by Marco Grassi
These sand towers in South Tyrol, Northern Italy are beautiful evidence of what alternating torrential rain and drought does to the earth.
#1 Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki by Hiro Kurashina
The view from inside a vintage tram in a city that is relatively quiet compared to Tokyo and Osaka.
#2 Geometry of the Sun by Enrico Pescantini
Thanks to drone technology, we get the same view that the god of the Sun, in whose honour this ancient pre-Columbian pyramid in Teotihuacan was built, would get from the heavens.
#3 Reflection by Gaanesh Prasad
Someone give this photographer an award for having guts of steel, too – he opened a window on a Dubai skyscraper for this vertiginous shot.
#1 Tea Culture by Alessandra Meniconzi
“Tea for Kazakh is one of the attributes of hospitality.” Enough said.
#2 Leida and Laelle – I Will Lift You Up by Tati Itat
We all have that one friend who needs direction when taking OOTDs. Laëlle and Leïda are Haitian twins living in Estrela, Brazil – they were practising poses when this shot was taken.
#3 Challenging Journey by MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan
This is perhaps the most heartbreaking photo of all the entries this year – this man was dangling from a steadily accelerating train during the mad Eid vacation rush in Dhaka. The train was packed, and it was all he could not to miss going home.
Read also: Top 10 Underground Wonders In The World