Travel Photographer of the Year 2017 winners

18 December 2017


The winners of the 2017 international Travel Photographer of the Year awards (TPOTY) have been revealed, and the contest - now in its 15th year - has another fantastic and wonderfully diverse set of photographs and photographic travel stories celebrating the humanity, landscape, environment and wildlife of this planet. More than 20,000 images were submitted by photographers in 129 countries, and entrants from 24 countries received awards - and it was a clean-sweep for the USA in Young Travel Photographer of the Year, with American youngsters taking the top honours in all three categories.

The photojournalist Alain Schroeder becomes the first-ever Belgian overall winner of TPOTY. Alain was awarded the title of Travel Photographer of the Year 2017 for his atmospheric portfolios of Kushti wrestling in India and the complex rituals associated with death in Toraja, Indonesia. The international panel of judges felt that his images exhibited sensitivity, tenderness and even humour while depicting stories with an edge. Alain wins £4,000 in cash, £750 to spend on Páramo clothing, and a Plastic Sandwich personalized leather portfolio case.

12-year-old Morgan Wolfers from Colorado, USA, becomes one of the competition’s youngest-ever winners of Young Travel Photographer of the Year, with a beautifully-shot portfolio of aspen trees and leaves. She was just 11 when she took these images.

TPOTY founder Chris Coe said, “Photographing nature is Morgan’s passion and the attention to detail and focus which comes with her Autism has made a hugely positive contribution to her photography. She has a remarkable innate talent, and clearly is exceptionally focused on her craft. It’s very exciting to see such a very young photographer with such a good eye for composition, colour and detail and with such maturity in her approach to her work."

Completing the trio of American successes in Young Travel Photographer of the Year, Young TPOTY 14 and Under was won by 13-year-old Maddie Nolan from Texas, with a charming portfolio of a hummingbird, while 17-year-old Josiah Huddleston, who has spent all his life in Japan, won Young TPOTY 15-18 years with his mysterious images of a Japanese forest. Ankit Kumar (age 14) from India and Axel Boberg (age 18) from Sweden were Runners-up in their respective categories. Morgan receives £500, Photo Iconic photography tuition and a Plastic Sandwich leather portfolio case. Maddie and Josiah each win £250 plus Photo Iconic photography tuition.

Fujifilm sponsored all three portfolio categories and the winner in each of these categories receives the Fujifilm X-Series professional camera plus lens of their choice. The range of images here was remarkably diverse. British photographer Paul Sansome won Celebration of Humanity with striking graphic compositions of people amidst fascinating architecture in India. Katherine Keates, an amateur photographer from Canada, won Earth & Climate with her exquisitely simple and delicate photographs of a dry riverbed landscape near Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, and Emiliano Pinnizzotto (Italy) won Tales of Adventure with a gritty portfolio depicting the growing problem of opium addiction in Nagaland, India. Emiliano’s task was made harder by the fact that he shot the images in very low light in a house filled with opium smoke.

The winner of the Best Single Image award in each portfolio category receives a giclée exhibition print from Genesis Imaging. Ana Abrao from Portugal won Best Single Image, Celebration of Humanity, Stephen King (Hong Kong) took the award in Earth & Climate, and Cezary Filew (Poland) in Tales of Adventure.

French semi-professional photographer Alexandre Zindy won the New Talent award with six captivating, poignant images of the environment of gorillas of Africa. His prize is £500, a personalized leather portfolio case from Plastic Sandwich, Photo Iconic tuition and a Páramo Halcon Traveller jacket.

Hurtigruten and Páramo sponsored the single image categories. The winners will each enjoy a five or six-day voyage for two people along Norway’s coastline with Hurtigruten and receive a Torres Insulator or Halcon Traveller jacket from Páramo. Former Freediving Vice-World Champion Wendy Timmermans (Netherlands) put her freediving skills to good use to capture the graphically stunning underwater shot that won Primary Colours, while Swedish photographer Johan Siggesson’s majestic yet eerie image of a Japanese Snow Monkey emerging from the water won Wildlife/Sea Life. And Chinese photographer Jianhui Liao won Food! with an almost painterly image of a large group of people gathered to eat noodles.

Dutch amateur photographer Pia Vachha’s detail-packed picture of a street musician in Portugal won iTravelled, the category for images taken on mobile phones or tablets. Pia receives a £500 Jack Wills gift card, a £100 bar tab for Jack Wills’ travelling bar, and a Plastic Sandwich bespoke portfolio case.

The Travel Photographer of the Year, Young Travel Photographer of the Year and the winners of the portfolio, New Talent and the three single image categories all also receive a year’s membership of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS).

TPOTY is judged by an international panel of photographers and imaging experts. This year’s jury featured judges from the UK, USA, Italy, Germany and Malaysia, including the award-winning photographer and picture editor Eamonn McCabe – recently seen presenting the BBC TV Series ‘Britain in Focus: A Photographic History’ – Michelle Jana Chan (Travel Editor, Vanity Fair magazine), Michael Pritchard (Director-General of the Royal Photographic Society) and TPOTY’s first judge in Asia, picture editor and filmmaker Cheryl Brophy-Chan.

A full gallery of all 140 of the winning, runner-up, commended, commended and special mention images can be seen on the awards’ website. The winning images will go on show in exhibitions in the UK and elsewhere next year - details will be announced in January 2018. They will also be published in the next Travel Photographer of the Year book, Journey Ten, which will be produced in 2018.

For more information about the Travel Photographer of the Year awards, exhibitions, books, cards and prints please visit

Image: © Jianhui Liao, winner Food category, Travel Photographer of the Year 2017.