2012 Student Photo Contest Winners

National Geographic Student Expeditions announced late last week that more than 1,800 photos were submitted to the National Geographic Student Expeditions Photo Contest. Students were asked to submit a photograph that captures the spirit of exploration and discovery, accompanied by a written description of the “moment” captured and how it reflects what exploration means to them.

Of the 1,800‐plus entries that were submitted, the judges arrived at 28 finalist entries, then selected a grand-prize winner, a second place winner and a third place winner. The grand-prize winner will travel to London this summer to participate in the National Geographic Student Expeditions London Photography Workshop. See more about the prizes.

The winner and finalist images and descriptions below represent a rich story of exploration through the eyes and lenses of high school students across the country. We congratulate each of the finalists on their outstanding work! Check out the winners and finalists, choose your own faves, then share them with family and friends.

Student photographers looking to further develop their photography skills can choose Photography as an On Assignment project on any of our summer travel programs for high school students. Learn More.

Grand Prize Winner

Coyote Curled at Sunset

Photo and description by Timothy Brooks

With a strong vision and sense of smell, and the ability to reach up to forty miles per hour, coyotes are symbolic of adventure. I was fortunate enough to find this wild coyote while visiting Yellowstone National Park. It leaped and ran under tree branches and between boulders. I made sure not to disturb the coyote, and when it lay down on top of a hill I was able to include the coyote’s environment in the background. This image displays the coyote’s vast habitat, and a sense of mysteriousness and exploration, through its single eye staring back at the camera.

Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Second Place Winner

Midnight Light

Photo and description by Lijah Hanley

On an unusually warm midnight walk on the picturesque Oregon coast, it was a perfect moment to capture a self portrait. As I stood in the dark, feeling the smallness of my being against the immensity of the world around me, my eyes saw darkness, but my camera captured the true beautiful panoply that surrounded me.

Location: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Third Place Winner

The Caiman in the Water

Photo and description by Grant Lauer

It was my first time ever in South America, a mission trip that I had gone on with my school. What I grew to realize during that trip was what wonders lie off the beaten path. I visited a small zoo alongside a river and saw many new animals. In my growing curiosity, I strayed off the tour to capture a photo above a small enclosed pond. This picture reminds me that exploration can never truly be experienced on a path.

Location: Peru

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