2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest Winners

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2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest Winners National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

A photograph of a humpback whale calf's tail has earned Reiko Takahashi of Japan the prestigious grand prize in the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. Takahashi will receive a $10,000 prize. Her photo was selected from more than 13,000 entries.

Takahashi took her grand prize-winning photo, titled "Mermaid," off the coast of Japan's Kumejima Island. The long-time photographer left her office job to pursue her passion for underwater photography and traveled to Kumejima Island on a mission to photograph humpback whales with their young calves.

"It was a special scene for me, to be able to take a photo of the calf, completely relaxed in gentle waters," said Takahashi. "I really cannot believe it. It was my dream to win. I am honored and it will be the driving force for my future shooting,"

The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest celebrates pictures taken by all levels of photographers around the world. The 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest recognizes spectacular photos taken within the last two years, with entries in three categories: Nature, People and Cities.

In addition to the grand prize winner, top photos were selected in each of the three categories. Takahashi's photo was also chosen as the winner in the Nature category. Hiro Kurashina of Japan took top honors in the Cities category for his photo titled "Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki, Kyushu," while "Tea Culture" by Alessandra Meniconzi of Switzerland won the People category.

A drone photograph of crocodiles in Costa Rica won the People's Choice contest, voted for by readers. You can see more great photos at natgeo.com/travelphotocontest.

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Reiko Takahashi / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
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Hiro Kurashina / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
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Alessandra Meniconzi / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
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hao j. / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
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Enrico Pescantini / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
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Tati Itat / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
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Marco Grassi / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
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MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest