Best Travel Photos of 2010: A Year in Local Travel Pictures

  • Ethan Gelber
  • 14 November 2010

After a year and 52 pictures, we are proud to present our Photo of the Year – the image that most captured the imagination of The Travel Word team and a group of external judges: the Dazzling Colours of Sunset, the Maldives.

Exactly one year ago, we started featuring one picture each week on The Travel Word. We spotlighted favourite images pulled from our growing collections on Flickr (here and here).

Photo of the Week (07 November 2010) - Dazzling Colours of the Sunset, The Maldives

We also asked the photographer or owner of each selected Photo of the Week to submit a short and revealing text about it – covering the subject of the photo, the general location, the experience of taking the picture, technical aspects of photography etc.

These text-image combinations have proven to be very popular. We believe that this has a lot to do with the special emphasis we have placed on the honesty of the image. All taken or sourced by our franchise partners, who are local travel experts in their destinations, they conveyed (we believe) something special. We weren’t looking for postcard images, even if we did end up focusing on a gorgeous sunset or backlit kid. We still always knew we were looking at a place through the eyes of someone who’s seen lots of kids and sunsets and knows their worth or when a scene comes along that really is exceptional.

The Shortlist

Our methods were decidedly unscientific. For each month, The Travel Word team singled out one photo of the month. To this list of 12 we added four wild cards that had made a particular impression on us. This list of 16 we put to a group of five skilled photographers for their assessment.

Below is the resulting list of nine images, ranked in order, with comments from the judges:


Photo of the Week (07 November 2010) - Dazzling Colours of the Sunset, The Maldives

+ Winner: Photo of the Year: The Dazzling Colours of Sunset, the MaldivesComments: "Nice composition, perfect exposure. I like that the photographer chose to silhouette the people and the bridge. It definitely makes me want to be there!""This stunning sunset in the Maldives is a classic example of being in the very-right place at the very-right time. What separates this sunset photo from most is the focus the people on the pier gives the viewer. Taking us far away and drawing us into the scene, in doing so we end up wishing that we ourselves were right there in the photo.""Sunsets never get old, and this one is quite spectacular. There is something really inviting about the whole scene, and I deeply envy those people on the pier.".

+ First Runner Up: Mt Yasur Eruption, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

“I like the abstract quality of this image. Proper exposure could be
challenging and this is nicely done.”

“I’ve never seen a live volcano up close, and given that I live in Brooklyn in New York City, I count that as a good thing. This view of a sudden and unexpectedly powerful eruption is an instantly-accessible peek into a foreign world. I like the easy way it reminds me of everything we don’t expect to run into in the course of a regular day.”


Photo of the Week (20 June 2010) - Boats Bob in the Waters of Melissani Lake, Kefalonia, Greece

+ Second Runner Up: Boats Bob in the Waters of Melissani Lake, Kefalonia, GreeceComments: "Crystal-clear waters in a shocking blue against the weathered gray stones of the surrounding cave walls - what's not to like? This image has a simplicity and a purity to it. It's a casually-composed shot, a day in the life of some guys who just happen to work in this incredibly beautiful spot.""I chose this one because it just had it all. The photograph itself is beautiful, it is wonderfully shot and of a spectacular moment in what looks to be an amazing place.".Other Favourites of Our Judges:

Yummy Penny Bun Mushrooms in Latvia

“This basket of mushrooms picked in Latvia looks simply stunning. The photographer has found a whole world of textures and rich colours framed by the equally tactile grass and basket. The high contrast and dappled light creates a larger-than-life image that makes me crave mushroom soup.”

“Here’s a beautifully composed image that has a nearly artificial tone to it suggesting a leisurely adventure that’s always fantastic: mushroom picking. The photograph with its colors, the arrangement of the mushrooms in a basket, takes the viewer right back to fairy tales and stories of enchanted forests.”


Photo of the Week (04 July 2010) - Gorillas in Our Midst, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

+ Gorillas in Our Midst, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, UgandaComments: "Gorillas make very good models and the one in this picture is nearly human in its cinematographic expression. The image has a curious temporality as it freezes the movement of a beast that's decidedly about to do something. The frame is suggestive of movement and one is tempted to imagine what's beyond the frame and beyond the time frozen in it.""This handsome portrait of the gorilla really struck me. You can really feel the impact of his stare through the photograph; it was captured perfectly. I really have to give it to the photographer for getting that close.".

Sifting Rice for the Day in Muang Sing, Luang Namtha, Laos

“This photo of a girl carrying out what is for her a day-to-day chore offers for the casual viewer a brief window into her world in a photo filled with context and brought to life with action. In the background, the rural character of her village on stilts is clear and everything about her from her unwashed clothes to her slight Mona-Lisa smile gives you a wealth of detail in this brief snapshot of her day. Contrasting this detail the rice is a blurred fountain of movement and adds a bit of magic to the every-day.”


Photo of the week (17 October 2010) - Traditional Soap Making, Tripoli, Lebanon

+ Traditional Soap Making, Tripoli, LebanonComment: "Travel photography is a genre where the portrayed object is more important than the image itself. It's a matter of finding the most peculiar scene, place or event and then register that in a way that is pleasant to look at. A row of ladies stirring soap in steamy cauldrons is as catchy as a photograph can be."...

Fire-Knife Dancing in Samoa

“I love fire as a photographic element; it’s stark and full of motion, and when you capture it right you can almost hear the sizzle and crackle. This shot made me think about how performance is a kind of shorthand, in some ways. While the picture was taken at a hotel during a cultural program, it still evokes dark nights on sandy beaches, on foreign shores.”



Photo of the Week (13 June 2010) - Young novice monks in Vientiane, Laos

Young Novice Monks in Vientiane, Laos

“Very nice shot of the playful interaction. Many people are too intimidated to photograph strangers, but the people we meet are such an essential part of the experience.”



The Judges

We extend sincere thanks to our five judges for their time and effort. We value their professional opinions and their readiness to share them with us.

Ian DeLaune is a New York-based artist working primarily with issues of media and information dissemination, and drawing on a wide array of digital and analogue techniques. He received his MFA in 1998 from SVA and currently works and teaches at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Linus Gelber is a photographer from New York City, where he shoots cityscapes and live performances (notably burlesque) and sees way too many movies, if such a thing is possible. His work is represented by Getty Images. Linus would like to go to Antarctica one day, and if you knew how he felt about New York winters you’d think that was weird too.

+ Richard Jephcote has taught traditional photography and Photoshop in colleges in North London and created several films through the artistic collective Tea Fuelled Art, which he co-founded with writer/composer George Lewkowicz and artist Katherine Harding. In addition to freelancing in photography/design and filmmaking, he has been pursuing an MA in Filmmaking (specialising in cinematography).

+ Born in Brazil, Rafael Pinho took up photography after finishing his architecture studies. He set out as a freelancer in 2005 in Belo Horizonte and spent the following years between Berlin, Reykjavík and São Paulo. His work has appeared in Modern Painters (US), Forum AID (Sweden), FFW Mag! (Brazil), Nýtt Líf (Iceland), Trip and Tpm (Brazil).

+ Although Jennie Zeiner received her undergraduate degree in Journalism, it is her images that have appeared in Reader’s Digest, Fast Company, Forbes, Money Magazine, Inc., BusinessWeek, Newsweek, ComputerWorld, Utne Reader and Village Voice. Her corporate/advertising work has been used by Bank of America, General Motors, FedEx, FCB, VISA, Mastercard, Larry King, Disney Latin America and Discovery Network.

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Ethan Gelber

In addition to his freelance travel writing (Lonely Planet author, ex-AFAR Ambassador, Huffington Post Travel blogger and more), Ethan has agitated tirelessly for responsible/sustainable travel practices, family travel, keeping things local, and quality and relevance in publishing and destination marketing. Among many other things, Ethan is editorial director of the Family Travel Association, a co-founder of OutBounding, and tackles content projects for HomeExchange.com and RW Social, which produces the NY Trav Fest. Previously, Ethan was Chief Communications Officer of the WHL Group, for which he founded and edited The Travel Word (this now-independent blog); publications manager of the French government tourist office (Atout France) in NYC; and helped manage a Paris-based bicycle tour operator.
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fine arts, Greece, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, local knowledge, Maldives, personal experience, photo of the week, Samoa, Uganda, Vanuatu, whl.travel,

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