Today National Geographic announced the winners of its 2014 Student Photo Contest. We asked high school students to submit a photograph and caption that conveys a sense of exploration and adventure, and over 2,000 entries flooded in!
The images and descriptions we received tell a rich story of exploration through the eyes and lenses of high school students across the country. And the subjects spanned the globe—as close as the backyard, and as far-flung as Botswana and Thailand.
Our panel of judges, made up of National Geographic’s top photographers and photo editors, had the challenging task of evaluating the top entries and selecting the winning image and the two runners-up.
Photographer Ann Basu submitted the Grand Prize-winning shot, Rites. Our judges called the image “powerful” and were impressed by Ann’s ability to capture her uncle’s incense smoke in the light of a nearby window. According to Ann, catching that moment was no fluke. When asked how photography has altered her view of the world, she said, “I’m constantly looking at light, no matter what I’m doing.”In my grandmother’s childhood home in southern China, there were no electric lights, just open windows. When my uncle lit a stick of incense, the window light caught the smoke in a way that made it seem timeless and otherworldly. I realized how far removed this was from my life in California, and how lucky I was to be able to explore my heritage and experience these traditions and customs. Exploration is not just about places, but about times and cultures as well. (Photo and description by Ann Basu)
The students not only needed to submit a spectacular shot, but also use writing to connect the photo to the themes of exploration and adventure. Ann noted that, “Exploration is not just about places, but also about times and cultures as well.” Until now, Ann has been a self- and internet- taught photographer, but for her grand prize she will attend one of National Geographic’s summer 2014 Student Photography Workshops.
Sanaya Dhablania was the second place winner, submitting Regenerate, an iPhone photo of a diver. Although she normally has a DSLR camera with her, Sanaya was happy to capture the moment on her phone, noting that immediately
after snapping the photo, she was soaked!
Rounding out the top three was Orbs, a photo of a red tailed sheetweaver by young photographer Lora Sparks. Lora noted that she gets shots like these by “never neglect[ing] the seemingly minuscule details found in traveling.”