National Geographic has crowned Japanese photographer Reiko Takahashi the 2018 winner of its coveted Travel Photographer of the Year award.
His breathtaking image of a humpback whale calf’s tail, entitled “Mermaid”, was selected by a panel of National Geographic judges from more than 13,000 entries. Takahashi will receive a $10,000 USD prize. Speaking about the shot, Takahashi, who left her office job to pursue a career in underwater photography, said:
“It was a special scene for me, to be able to take a photo of the calf, completely relaxed in gentle waters. I really cannot believe it. It was my dream to win. I am honored and it will be the driving force for my future shooting […] Most of the time, the calf stayed close to her mom. At one point, the calf began jumping and tapping its tail on the water near us—it was very friendly and curious. Finally, the mother, who was watching nearby, came to pick up the calf and swim away. I fell in love completely with the calf and it’s very energetic, large, and beautiful tail.”
In addition to Takahashi taking home the grand prize, top photographs were selected in each of the three categories. Takahashi’s photo was also chosen as the winner in the Nature category. Hiro Kurashina of Japan took top honors in the Cities category for his photo titled “Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki, Kyushu,” while “Tea Culture” by Alessandra Meniconzi of Switzerland won the People category.