Best Travel Photos: 15 Winners Of Life Framer’s World Traveler Photography Awards

From the mountains of Bulgaria to Antarctic penguins accompanying people trekking, from salt flats in Bolivia to beerhalls in Germany, the winners of Life Framer’s World Travelers Photo competition are amazing.

The 2022 contest was judged by celebrated travel photographer Steve McCurry, who is a Magnum Photos member, four-time World Press Photo winner and creator of several of the most iconic images of our time.

The directive was simple: There’s a world out there to explore. Open your eyes to its landscapes, people, cultures – on your doorstep or 10,000 kilometers away. Expand our horizons with views from the four corners of the globe.

The winners and shortlist of 20 images include street photography, landscapes, portraiture, documentary and conceptual work. A mini-world tour from the perspective of amateur and professional photographers working around the world – that reminds us of the small space each of us occupies in our vast world and the sense of fulfilment in exploring beyond it.

Life Framer’s photography awards showcases creative photography from amateur and professional artists. Every annual contest is overseen by a world-renowned photographer or industry professional and winners are exhibited in gallery spaces across the planet.

Members of the French navy’s bagpipe band “Bagad Lann Bihoue” visit the Sphinx in October 2020, their first and only outing during covid. Due to this being at the height of travel lockdowns during the pandemic, the normally extremely crowded tourist sight was virtually void of tourists, making for a very surreal scene to stumble upon.

Steve McCurry commented: “It can often be challenging to create a personal point of view at famous landmarks. This image feels authentic and tells a story.”

Cradling a lamb in his warm embrace against a backdrop of unforgiving terrain, the image gives a sense of the combination of hardness and softness required for such a life.

Looking out beyond the frame, the subject seems lost in thought surveying his landscape, and we’re invited into his world for just a moment. With beautiful lighting, the bright colors of his artisanal blanket and the thoughtful pose, it’s an image that celebrates rather than denigrates such a lifestyle that may seem so far removed from our own.

Travel for many is synonymous with relaxation and this aqua blue pool provides an inviting escape as well as a pocket of tranquility among the chaos of apartment blocks, cranes, yachts, power lines and beach umbrellas.

A well-balanced scene offering an interesting perspective on modern ideas of leisure, tourism, wealth and status – few places are more associated with such words as Monaco.

This image of a surfer girl in Busua, Ghana appears in an ongoing project entitled “The Dreams We Had” that the photographer is working on in Ghana and Sierra Leone.

“I am trying to capture the life of kids and teenagers in different towns and cities,” de la Reina explained. “The focus is on discovering how different it is growing up in different parts of the world, and how similar some of the dreams and aspirations of these kids are.”

The image is a wonderfully evocative, low-key portrait of this Ghanaian girl, far removed from the image of a surfer most of us will have in mind. By stepping back, De La Reina roots her in this beautiful landscape and reminds us of the rich world that exists beyond the stereotypes and boundaries we sometimes hold.

Shot at dusk as the light begins to fade, muting the colors of the day, the photographer creates an atmospheric scene that looks likes an oil painting.

The mighty baobab trees tower over this single car making its way through the landscape, their distinctive forms reaching up to a vast and empty sky. It’s a magical moment infused with adventure – one of those privileged, unexpected glimpses of beauty we’re treated to when traveling through a new place.

Shot in soft, washed-out lighting and set against a backdrop of lush rolling hills, Kin Chan’s portrait of these Tibetan artisans is dreamy and evocative.

There’s something theatrical in the arrangement of people and lanterns, and it’s an image that lingers because of it.

This image comes from Latin America. It was taken in the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia,the world’s largest salt flat, a legacy from a prehistoric lake that went dry, leaving behind a nearly 11,000-square-kilometer landscape of bright-white salt, rock formations and cacti-studded islands.

“During wet season, the whole salar is a huge mirror and you can’t tell the difference between the ground and the sky,” the photographer explains.

This stairs to nowhere, a sculpture by artist Gastón Ugalde, purely made of salt, is supposed to represent “the passage to the sky.”

Travel affords us the opportunity to see spectacular architecture, art work and monuments, and so travel photographers have to be aware of a certain truth: that an image of a spectacular thing isn’t always a spectacular image. This photo elevates the stairway beyond a simple tourist snapshot.

Taken from a raised viewpoint by drone against a setting sun, it maximizes the sense of scale and the tire-marked texture of the salt flats. With the drawn out shadows and lone silhouetted figure, it’s truly hypnotic, on first glance as if the staircase is jutting above low clouds.

The Oktoberfest, an annual 16-to-18 day folk festival running from mid-September to around the first Sunday in October in Munich, Germany, is the world’s largest festival, featuring a beer fest and a traveling fun fair that attracts more than six million international and national visitors.

Locally, it’s called d’Wiesn and its an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since the year 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations that modeled after the original Munich event.

Large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed during the celebration. The record was established in 2014 when 7.7 million liters were served.

This busy, pastel-toned aerial shot in a packed beer hall, is a visual feast, offering an insight into the curious ways we celebrate tradition and spend our leisure time. With festivities taking place below idyllic hand-painted village scenes and a perfect sky, it provides an interesting comment on the real and the artificial, community and capitalism, while offering fun diversion exploring all of the people and details that the photographer captures in crisp focus.

This image of boys playing pick-up soccer on the wet streets of Havana’s Malecon feels almost timeless – the black-and-white treatment and silhouetted figures untethering it from a place in time.

When we think of Cuba, we think of blue skies, colorful buildings and busy streets. So it’s refreshing to see this perspective, brilliantly composed to allow the viewer to absorb each figure and detail. They say bad weather makes for good photography, and it’s certainly true in this case.

Only the most minimal of image statements are provided alongside this candid beachfront slice of life. So we’re left asking who these young men are. Are they out for leisure? Or trying to pick up tourists next to the food stall for beach horse rides?

Regardless, it’s an exceptional composition, every pixel of the frame filled with interest, and the photographer’s crouched point of view finding a sense of order, each element given its own space. It’s a deceptively difficult thing to achieve: to create a satisfying visual arrangement that grounds the viewer in the moment in such an immersive way.

A migrant from Haiti stands by the border wall in Tijuana that stands as a symbol of separation, supremacy and racism.

Travel can be driven by curiosity and a desire for fun, but also by necessity. In a world where we create artificial boundaries, and discussions on immigration can often reduce people to numbers, this image of the border wall between Mexico and the United States makes real the concept of human movement: the lone man looking out to sea and the handwritten text on the wall acting as a poignant reminder that it’s all just driven by circumstance and the hope of finding something better at the other end of the journey.

The moon ahead is perhaps a small beacon of hope, hinting compassion and togetherness can eclipse fear and otherness

Route 66, the highway slicing the United States in two from Los Angeles to Chicago, is a cultural touchstone, synonymous with the great American road trip.

So embedded is it in our popular conscious that its visual language – endless straight roads, remote gas stations, motels and vintage neon signs – has become something of a cliché, over-photographed and often perversely uninspiring.

It’s a long road covering an almost endless array of terrains however, and this image offers something different to those well-worn perspectives. The signage may be immediately recognizable but the lone tree bursting forth from simple housing against a thick foggy sky creates a scene imbued with a strange eeriness, a ‘nowhereness’ of being untethered from a specific place.

Road trips are about adventure, of heading out into the unknown for new experiences, and this compelling image channels those feelings quite effectively

Partially obscuring this scene by shooting into the fog and golden morning light, the photographer creates a scene which, while capturing a touristic aspect of Myanmar in this puppet stall, also feels authentic and enchanting.

One can imagine oneself in his shoes, exploring the streets and absorbing the atmosphere as the busy day wakes into life in a lovely shot that makes great use of light and shadow.

In Kyrgyzstan, many make their living as shepherds. They rarely own their own sheep, but earn a small income by managing them for others.

The comforts are minimal, but still sought — a cigarette when possible, climbing a mountain to get the best cellphone reception, sharing a YouTube video with a friend, to eventually return home and repeat the process the next day.

One could romanticize this way of life as more in tune with the natural world, but the day-to-day reality is far more complicated.

“I spent just 10 days up in the At-Bashi mountain range with Kyrgyz shepherds and their families, in small villages, and a local school, following and observing their routines,” said Michelia Kramer. “They spend all day, every day, with this reality. To intentionally step outside of our comforts for the sake of adventure is disillusionment in itself, yet the spectacle and the true beauty of nature does provide knowledge and wonder. To live in it constantly comes at a cost.”

Kramer’s statement provides an interesting perspective on the nature of travel and tourism, of the tricky aspect of voyeurism inherent in experiencing for a pleasure a life harder than one’s own.

Her single frame captures something of this hardship: the bone-chilling cold emanating from the scene in a beautifully aesthetic way; the sheep and mountainous valley cutting strong diagonal lines; and the bright overcast light rendering the scene almost in black and white. It’s immersive and tactile.

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