Last spring, on the final day of a 15-day trip spent chasing storms with his brother and meteorologist friends in Colorado, James Smart of Melbourne, Australia, snapped the photo that won the newly announced grand prize in the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest, along with $10,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to partake in the annual National Geographic Photography Seminar this month. The photo was selected from 13,000, submitted via Your Shot to the magazine, and was judged by Senior Photo Editor Jessie Wender, National Geographic Photography Fellow David Guttenfelder and photographer Anand Varma based on creativity, photography quality and genuineness/authenticity of the content. The entire process took 12 weeks.
The photo, called Dirt, won both the grand prize and first prize in the “Nature” category of the contest and was captured when Smart was lucky enough to be driving down a dirt road west of the tornado; front lighting “helped to get great detail out of the image and the perfect light for the sky and foreground.” The first prize winners of the other two categories, “Places” and “People,” were Francisco Mingorance of Andalusia, Spain, for his abstract, aerial photo of a Spanish marsh partially destroyed by radioactive waste and Joel Nsadha of Binghamton, New York, for his portrait of a young man riding his bicycle through a Ugandan slum. Smart’s photograph is the only one that will be published in National Geographic magazine.
When one annual contest ends, the next begins. You can submit your photographs to National Geographic here, where an active community, along with National Geographic photo editors, provide feedback and tips. Who knows, maybe your photograph could show up in the monthly magazine for every one of the 6.4 million subscribers.