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Photo Contest Insider Blog


December 6, 2012

Bad weather has made the sun shine on British photographer Craig Easton. His evocative, moody images of the ‘dreich’ – an old Scottish word to describe wet, miserable, dank weather –  have secured him this year’s Cutty Sark Award for the overall winner of the Travel Photographer of the Year awards (TPOTY). Craig beat entrants from over 90 countries to win the world’s leading travel photography competition with these ‘dreich’ landscapes and an elegant series of striking silhouettes of people in Paris. He is the first British photographer to take the Travel Photographer of the Year title since 2007.


© Craig Easton, UK – Cutty Sark Award winner and Travel Photographer of the Year 2012 – Paris, France.

Professional and amateur photographers from 22 countries scooped individual TPOTY awards or special mentions this year. The prizewinning entries across the categories make a glorious display that showcases the beauty and diversity of travel imagery; fascinating glimpses of different cultures, engaging portraits, gritty, thought-provoking shots, abstracts, cityscapes, stunning landscapes and wildlife images.


© Matthew Gillooley (age 18) USA – a young boy protects his family's cows with his machete, Kilgoris, Trans Mara, Kenya.


The judging panel – which included photographers Eamonn McCabe, Jason Hawkes, Ami Vitale, Steve Bloom, Nick Meers and Chris Weston, and the editors of Hotshoe International, FOTO magazin (Germany), Outdoor Photography and the photography director of Condé Nast Traveller – unanimously agreed that the creativity, differing styles and elegant, graphic nature of Craig Easton’s portfolios made him a very worthy winner.


© Chase Guttman (age 16), USA – Amish equine event, Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, USA.


The Cutty Sark Award for the overall winner is presented by Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky. They are rewarding Craig with £2,500 in cash, an expenses-paid international photography commission with £2,500 commission fee, and the chance to work with their master blender and blend his own whisky, design his own label, and bottle up to 50 bottles of the resulting unique blend. Though he lives in England, Craig is a Scotsman by birth, so this should be entirely appropriate for him!


© Samuel Fisch (age 15, USA) – a cowboy surveys his horses at sunrise. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA.


TPOTY  2012 also offered a great range of prizes across all categories, from sponsors Fujifilm, Adobe Systems Inc., Explore, Tribes Travel, Genesis Imaging, Photo Iconic, Plastic Sandwich, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Young Photographers Alliance and Condé Nast Traveller.


The New Talent award went to Alessandra Meniconzi (Switzerland), while Spain’s Enrique López-Tapia won the Celebration category. In the portfolio sections, Marsel van Oosten (Netherlands) won Wild Planet, Lung Liu (Canada) came out on top in Journeys and Philip Lee Harvey (UK) won People Watching. In the single image contest, the Water category was won by Hilde Foss from Norway, and Big City by Anka Sliwa (UK). And Marsel van Oosten won another prize when he shared the honours in the video category – Travel Shorts – with James Morgan (UK).


The Young Travel Photographer of the Year award went to 15 year-old Samuel Fisch (USA), while the Young TPOTY 15-18 and Young TPOTY 14 years and under categories were won by 18 year-old Matthew Gillooley (USA) and 10 year-old Michael Theodric (Indonesia). And the Young Photographers Alliance Emerging Talent Award went to 16 year-old American Chase Guttman, a former winner of Young TPOTY 14 and under.


Winning images on display in 2013

The winning images can be viewed online in the Winners’ Gallery on, and will make their public debut at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London, at the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition from July 12th to August 18th 2013. The 2012 exhibition attracted over 42,000 visitors, a record attendance for the Society.


Previous winning images from the awards can be seen in the ‘Journey’ series of books from Travel Photographer of the Year, available from bookshops and And this year TPOTY launched the Travel Photographer of the Year Collection with making dozens of beautiful award-winning images available to order online as prints.




New Talent

For her success in the New Talent category ‘Another World’, Alessandra Meniconzi (Switzerland) – a graphic designer, teacher and semi-professional photographer, who is hoping to become a full-time photographer – wins a trip to the Gnaoua and World Music Festival in Essaouira, Morocco with sustainable travel specialists Tribes Travel, a Fujifilm FinePix X100 camera, Plastic Sandwich leather portfolio book or iFolio, plus a Digimarc for Images Professional Edition subscription and Adobe Photoshop CS6 software. Giorgio Bianchi (Italy) was Runner-up, Catherine Sales (UK) Highly Commended, and Dmitry Miroshnikov (Russia) Commended.


Wild Planet portfolio

Marsel van Oosten’s stunning images of the Namibian night sky win the Dutch photographer the Wild Planet portfolio category, and a prize of a tailormade trip to Kenya with adventure travel experts Explore, plus Adobe Photoshop CS6 software. The Runner-up was Uli Kunz (Germany), with Arne Strømme (Norway) Highly Commended and Michal Jastrzebski (Poland) Commended.


Journeys portfolio

Canadian photographer Lung Liu’s delicate images of the Burning Man festival won first prize in Journeys. His prize is a Fujifilm X-Pro 1 digital camera with three prime lenses, plus Adobe Photoshop CS6 software. Runner-up was Jason Edwards (Australia), with a mpoving and thought-providing portfolio depicting the result of animals being exploited for the pet and traditional medicine trades, and Timothy Allen (UK) was Highly Commended for his images of Bulgaria. There were two Commended entrants, both from the UK: Tom McLaughlan and Rupert Sagar-Musgrave.


People Watching portfolio

Philip Lee Harvey (UK) won here with his enchanting images of groundnut harvesting in Burma. Runner-up was Jan Schlegel (Germany), for his unusual and beautiful portraits of the Kara Tribe of Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley. Anders Ryman (Sweden) was Highly Commended and Jordi Cohen (Spain) Commended.


The Runners-up in each portfolio category win a Digimarc for Images Professional subscription, a Plastic Sandwich leather portfolio or iFolio, and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 software.


Best single image in a portfolio category

These awards are given for the best individual image in a portfolio category. Michel Jastrzebski took this award in Wild Planet, Andrew Newey (UK) in Journeys and Timothy Allen in People Watching. Each receives a Giclee exhibition print from Genesis Digital Imaging, a print of an historic image from the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) archive, and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.


Condé Nast Traveller Award – ‘Celebration’

This was a special category to celebrate the magazine’s 15th anniversary. The winner – Enrique López-Tapia (Spain), is rewarded with a paid commission to go on assignment with the magazine. Alessandra Meniconzi (Runner-up) and Lung Liu (Highly Commended) will each have their images reviewed by Condé Nast Traveller Director of Photography, Caroline Metcalfe.


HD Video category – Travel Shorts

The prize for this category – which challenged photographers to produce a 60-second travel film – was £1,000 from Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky, plus Adobe Photoshop CS6 Production Premium & Premiere Pro CS6 software. Marsel van Oosten’s timelapse of night skies in Namibia and James Morgan’s depiction of the many cultures to be found in London shared this award.


Single image categories – Water and Big City

The judges found the One Shot/Water category very difficult to judge, as the standard of entries was so high but, in the end, Norwegian amateur photographer Hilde Foss’s exhilarating image of a kayaker took the top prize, winning her a Fujifilm X10 digital camera, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 and a collection of Travel Photographer of the Year books. Timothy Allen scored two more prizes when he finished both Runner-up and Commended, while Joshua Holko (Australia) was Highly Commended and Kimberley Coole (UK) Commended.


In the beginners’ single image category First Shot/Big City, London was the subject of four of the five prizewinning shots. Anka Sliwa (UK) came first, winning a Fujifilm FinePix XP150, a Photo Iconic photocourse, and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. Natasha Semmence and Nadia Townshend (both UK) were Runners-up, with Taiwan’s Monica Chien and Switzerland’s Agne Subelyte both Commended. Monica’s prizewinning shot was taken on her iPhone.


Young Travel Photographer of the Year/YPA Emerging Talent Award

The overall young winner was 15 year-old Samuel Fisch from the USA, with an evocative portfolio of cowboys and horses. His prize is a Fujifilm X-S1 camera and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. The winners of 15-18 and 14 and under age groups – 18 year-old Matthew Gillooley (USA) and 10 year-old Michael Theodric (Indonesia) – each receive Fujifilm FinePix XP150 cameras and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. Felicia Simion (age 18) from Romania was Runner-up in the 15-18 age group, and 13 year-old Rebecca Deckmyn from Belgium was Runner-up in the under 14s. Finally, 16 year-old Chase Guttman (USA) won the Young Photographers Alliance Emerging Talent award and a place on the YPA mentoring scheme.