I have a confession to make. Aside from photographing my nine-year-old daughter, which I do often, I hardly ever take pictures. The one exception is when I travel—when new surroundings present patterns, colors, light, and lines that inspire me to pick up my camera (or iPhone, as the case may be) and create my own interpretations. Every year, the Traveler Photo Contest invites aspiring and professional photographers alike to share images of the people, places, and things that have inspired them (like the underwater shot of a Hawaiian petrel above). And then I get to take a virtual trip when editing Photo of the Day, which is the next best thing.
“Today in Istanbul, Sultan Ahmet Mosque [also known as the Blue Mosque] and Hagia Sophia are surrounded by busy streets and streams of visitors,” writes Traveler Photo Contest entrant Michael O’Brien. “Yet it is still possible to glimpse a timeless and ancient view.” O’Brien captured this perspective from an upper window in the Hagia Sophia, now a museum.
A weeping cherry tree blooms on the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, Japan. The trees typically bloom in late March and early April. “It is like an old Japanese painting, and you should not miss [it],” writes photographer Yukio Miki.
With the help of a drone, photographer Chris Schmid captures a bird’s-eye view of a surfer at Praia Mole, a popular party beach and surf destination in Florianópolis, Brazil.
A Hamar woman and her son stand beneath a dramatic sky in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. “After walking from our tent along the riverbed, we met up with this nearby village and the beautiful people [who] lived there,” writes photographer Carey Nash. “We felt so welcomed.”
“I was traveling through South Dakota and decided to visit Custer State Park during their annual buffalo roundup,” writes Wes Eisenhauer, who submitted this photo to the Traveler Photo Contest, happening now. “As I approached the area where the buffalo are kept and counted, most of the herd scattered at my presence. This buffalo stayed and had a few more sips of water while I snapped a few pictures … We both stood quietly for just a moment before she turned and walked away.”
Light streams into Indonesia’s Grubug Cave, captured by photographer Elena Bobrova after descending nearly 200 feet into neighboring Jomblang Cave and traveling through a natural horizontal corridor. Bobrova writes that the vision was “so beautiful that someone called it ‘the light of heaven.”’
Sunlight paints a rock formation in the Galápagos Islands. Cruise passenger Mary E. Mackey was relaxing on deck after a shore excursion when she noticed the evening light. Not having her 35mm camera with her, Mackey captured the image with her iPhone. “I didn’t want to miss this opportunity,” she writes.
Inspired yourself? The 2015 Traveler Photo Contest continues until June 30 at 12 p.m. EDT. Information on how you can enter is available here.
Alexa Keefe is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from around National Geographic. The full archive is accessible here.
See which pictures were featured in our last roundup, Photo of the Day: Best of May.