Now that the annual National Geographic Photo Contest has concluded and the 2013 winners have been announced, we can finally take a look at some of the best photographs in the world taken this year.

The contest is divided into three major categories – People, places and nature. The grand-prize winning photograph was “Ice Bear” by Paul Souders of Seattle, which also won in the nature category. Adam Tan in Malaysia won the Places category with his “Long Road to Daybreak” photograph, while Danish photographer Cecile Baudier won the People category with her “Together, Alone” photograph.

One of the greatest things about the National Geographic Photo Contest is that the photographs seem to be chosen by both outstanding visual composition and contextual importance or interest. Each image, whether a prize winner or an honorable mention, is beautiful and full of meaning. More than just a curious once-in-a-blue-moon shot, Souder’s image also illustrates some of the difficulties faced by polar bears in the rapidly melting North. Tan’s photograph illustrates more than just a working mother and her child – it illustrates the last vestiges of life in a village in China that faces rapid modernization.

The contest has presented us with amazing photographs year after year (see last year’s competition).


Grand-Prize Winner and Nature Winner

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-1“A polar bear peers up from beneath the melting sea ice on Hudson Bay as the setting midnight sun glows red from the smoke of distant fires during a record-breaking spell of hot weather. The Manitoba population of polar bears, the southernmost in the world, is particularly threatened by a warming climate and reduced sea ice.” Photo and caption by Paul Souders

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-4“On a good day in the field, a birder might see flock of birds. Great Egrets; Tidal area of the Danube in Hungary.” Photo and caption by Réka Zsimon

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-2“An Indian rhinoceros, far from home and stuck inside with late-winter blues at the Toronto zoo.” Photo and caption by Stephen De Lisle

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-13“The crows that live in Tokyo use clothes hangers to make nests. In such a large city, there are few trees, so the natural materials that crows need to make their nests are scarce. As a result, the crows occasionally take hangers from the people who live in apartments nearby, and carefully assemble them into nests. The completed nests almost look like works of art based on the theme of recycling.” Photo and caption byYosuke Kashiwakura


Places Winner

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-11“Realizing this old town (Laocheng, means old town in Chinese) would soon be transformed into a new town through the speedy economic growth in China and perhaps lose its raw beauty in no tome, I was pleased to capture this working mother carrying her child in her basket walking through the thick mist in a very early foggy morning, 2012.” Photo and caption by Adam Tan

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-12“I was driving along the beach highway when i noticed the bulls sunbathing on the empty beach. I initially thought i was seeing things,but no it really was sunbathing cows !! I had to park my car a fair distance away and that meant a long walk along the beach in 35 degree heat. It did not matter because i had to get the shot ! When i got closer to them i was careful not to spook them so i crawled on my stomach on the hot sand to get a good picture of them. Mission Accomplished ! It was worth the effort !” Photo and caption by Andrew Lever

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-3“I cannot describe the eery feeling I had when I walked in on this scene. I followed a massive storm front several 100 kilometers hoping to capture something special but this blew my mind. The surreal milky green water is a natural phenomenon caused by electomagnetic activity from the lightning hitting the waters surface. There was no rain where I was and not much wind either but in the distance the sky was charged and angry subjecting its wrath over the graveyard of dead trees in this normally very dry lake bed. I was able to capture a series of unique images this being one of the best.” Photo and caption by Julie Fletcher


People Winner

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-5“This portrait of two identical twins( Nils and Emil, 15 years old) in Fyn, Denmark, is part of a series of pictures, portraying people who has a strong connection to another person and who often think of themselves as a ‘we’ instead of ‘me’. The photo is trying to depict the two brothers different role within the family.” Photo and caption by Cecile Smetana Baudier

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-10“Arabic born in one of the biggest city in the World, New York. Right in the middle of the bronx she grow and go to School. As she’s 13 years old, here Father decide to send her to her Family in a small town named Bajakunda. Now she live here whitout electricity and a two hours bus drive away from the next city. Working every day from early morning til late night. No chance to leave this Country. Arabic is the only person in this small town whit an official American Passport, everybody dream about that one but she cant use it anymore because of family tradition.” Photo and caption by Maurin Bisig

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-6“My girlfriend in her car at the stop street.” Photo and caption by Michele De Punzio

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-8“This picture is a part of the series of my work ‘Frumoasa’. “Frumoasa” is Romanian for ‘beauty’. It’s a work about Laurentiu and his family. They live in shacks next to the railway near the Ghent Dampoort. I met him and his family in December 2012. They have to deal with all kind of obstacles on a daily basis. The lack of a legal address gave them administrative problems and make it hardly impossible for them to find a decent job. They form a happy, warm and close family, despite the constant uncertainty in which they live.” Photo and caption by Aurélie Geurts

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-7“This is Ida. She is seven years old and born in Greenland. A year ago her mother, Marie, decided to move to Denmark in search of an easier life and to give her daughter everything that she never had, but even though the two countries are tied historically, the two cultures are very different and they have no danish friends or any strong connections to Denmark. In Denmark, Greenlanders are seen as second class citizens, drunks and socially challenged. This photo is part of an on-going series, that is trying to show a different side to the greenlandish minority in Denmark.” Photo and caption by Cecile Smetana Baudier

Honorable Mention

national-geographic-photo-contest-winners-2013-9“A boy plays with balloons by Buriganga river as smoke emits from a dump yard during sunset in Dhaka, Bangladesh.” Photo and caption byAndrew Biraj

The Winners Of The 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest originally appeared on Bored Panda