FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Matjaz Krivic. Reina, Barita and friends play on the main minaret of the Grand Mosque in Bani, Burkina Faso, during Eid al-Fitr.
Bani, Burkina Faso, August 2014, Canon EOS 5D Mark II
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Ana Yturralde. A girl with albinism, the genetic condition causing an absence of pigmentation in the skin, eyes and hair, stares up in curiosity. "This was the day of the opening of one of my exhibitions about albinos. It took place in the Ethnology Museum of Valencia. Most of the attendees were parents with albino kids, and the director of the museum allowed me to take a photographic tour with the kids around the museum rooms. This little girl watched everything with big interest," says Yturralde. "Nearly all albinos are severely visually impaired so her world is often one of only shadow and light. In this dark room, full of bright lines and their strong reflections, she could better focus her eyes looked around in curiosity at what I was photographing."
Valencia, Spain, March 2012, Canon EOS 5D Mark II
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Joydeep Mukherjee. A mother plays with her child in a flooded room, near the banks of the Ganges River.
Kolkata, India, August 2013, Nikon D600
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Pham Ty. Women of a small village near Vinh Hy Bay, Vietnam, sew a fishing net while their husbands fish.
Vinh Hy Bay, Ninh Thuan, Vietnam, November 2013, Sony NEX-6
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Hakan Yayla. Women of Izmir, Turkey, stir cauldrons of keşkek, a wheat and meat dish prepared for weddings, circumcisions and religious holidays.
Bergama, Izmir, Turkey, May 2012, Nikon D300
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Viet Phuong Tran. Two boys jump into a river near Nghiem Xuyen village, Vietnam, in the late afternoon.
Hanoi, Vietnam, August 2014, Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Jorge Fernandez. A young Mursi man holds an AK-47. Mursi tribe members must use weapons to defend their land and cattle, says Fernandez.
Marenke, Omo Valley, Ethiopia, April 2013,
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Matjaz Krivic. Onno is a teenage girl from the Arbore tribe. "Onno, like other women of the Arbore tribe, enjoys decorating herself with hundreds of beads," says Krivic.
Omo Valley, Ethiopia, February 2012, Canon EOS 5D Mark II
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Jorge Fernandez. Priests celebrate Orthodox Easter in Lalibela, Ethiopia.
Lalibela, Ethiopia, May 2013, Nikon D700
FINALIST: TRAVEL | Photograph by David Navais. A young girl of the Hamer tribe wears traditional clothing. "Despite the unavoidable western influence, many people like this young Hamer girl are proud of their traditional clothes," says Navais.
Dlbeno, Omo Valley, Ethiopia, August 2013, Nikon D300
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Hoang Long Ly. A fisherman checks his net in the early morning. At night, the fishermen of Tuyen Lam Lake in Vietnam lower nets into the water and turn on lights above them to lure fish.
Lam Dong, Dalat, Vietnam, March 2014, Nikon D700
FINALIST: Travel | Photography by Sergio Carbajo Rodriguez. Young Buddhist novices play in Hsinbyume Pagoda, Myanmar. "Once the tourists leave the last boat to Mandalay, the pagoda and its terraces become the perfect playground for the kids," says Carbajo Rodriguez.
Mingun, Mandalay, Myanmar, November 2014, Nikon D600
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Jorge Fernandez. A girl looks out the window of a slow-moving train en route from Loikow to Yangon, Myanmar, as an old woman sleeps.
Kayah State, Myanmar, May 2014, Nikon D700
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Sesh Kumar Sareday. Sareday looks down at a wheat field in Bagan from a hot air balloon.
Bagan, Myanmar, January 2014, Nikon Df
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Nhiem Hoang. A woman collects water lilies. "During the floating season in the Mekong Delta, wild water lilies grow everywhere in rice fields covered by water. They become a traditional food for people living in this region and are processed into special dishes such as salad and sour soup with fish," says Nhiem Hoang.
Chau Doc, Mekong Delta, Vietnam, October 2014, SONY ILCE-7R
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Kuntal Kumar Roy. Happy children gossip.
Medinipur, West Bengal, India, March 2012, Nikon D7000
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by David Huamani Bedoya. Fireworks shower onlookers in sparks during Holy Week celebrations in Acobamba, Tarma, Peru.
Acobamba, Tarma, Peru, April 2014, Canon EOS 5D Mark II
FINALIST: Travel | Photograph by Brian Yen. "It's well past midnight, and this densely packed neighborhood is dead quiet. It's one of the largest Christian cemeteries in Hong Kong," says Yen. "In Hong Kong, land is scarce. When you're alive, you live in tiny little pigeon holes. When you're dead, it doesn't get much better."
Hong Kong, June 2014, Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Kristhian Castro. A vicuña, one of four South American camelids, wanders from its group in the Ecuadorian Andes.
Chimborazo Volcano, Ecuador, January 2014, NIKON D600
FINALIST: Natural World | Photo by Eng Siong Yeo. Young cheetahs learn to hunt by chasing down a fawn.
Ngorongoro National Park, Tanzania, February 2013, Canon EOS-1D X
FINALIST: Natural World | Photo by Michel Labrecque. Mobula rays gather to feed on plankton attracted by dive lights. "The light coming from above the mobulas gives this frame a divine aspect, as if the light was coming down from the heavens, ironic since these animals are sometimes mistakenly called 'devil rays,'" says Labrecque.
La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, October 2013, Canon EOS 60D
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Ramesh Chandar. A female golden silk orb-weaver rests on her nest. "I was out in the countryside [of Hong Kong] photographing birds mainly, but had the macro lens with me in case something came up. It started raining lightly. On the way out, I noticed this huge web shimmering in the evening light, so rain or no rain, this was an opportunity not to be missed," says Chandar.
Hong Kong, November 2012, Canon EOS 5D Mark III
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Anthony Smith. A wave strikes an elephant seal pup. "Young elephant seals were sprawled all over the upper beaches in a remote sub-Antarctic region of the Atlantic, but for some reason this youngster had chosen to lie down to rest right within the surf!" says Smith.
South Georgia Island, January 2014, Nikon D4
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Kevin Morgans. A brown bear walks across an estuary.
Lake Clark National Park, Alaska, July 2014, Canon EOS-1D X
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Ray Collins. Light refracts through the curves of a breaking wave.
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, July 2014, Nikon D4
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Lorenzo Mittiga. A green iguana surfaces for air. "I had decided to take some over/under water photographs of the sunset from inside one of my favorite Bonaire caves. There I was, fully equipped with my wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel and my camera...when a curious friend interrupted my solitude," says Mittiga.
Bonaire, Netherlands, June 2014, Canon Eos 7D
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Nicolas Reusens. "During my latest trip to Costa Rica I managed to photograph this beautiful snake in the worst of all situations (for the frog of course)," says Reusens.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica, May 2014, Canon 5D Mark III
FINALIST: Natural World | Photograph by Álvaro Cubero Vega. The caracolera is a common, but restless snake. "Getting a photograph of his whole body was the challenge," says Cubero Vega.
Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica, September 2014, Canon 5D Mark II
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Olivier Douliery. President Barack Obama stands in the Oval Office of the White House.
Washington, D.C., October 2014, Nikon D4
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Bhaskar Sur. A woman and her child place dyed threads out to dry.
Santipur, Nadia, India, February 2014, Canon EOS 7D
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Jennifer Oetzell. High school sophomore Kris Hall practices skateboarding tricks at the Venice Beach Skate Park in California. "Hall visits the skate park almost every day during the summer to hang out with friends and enjoy the beach atmosphere," says Oetzell.
Venice Beach, California, December 2012, Nikon D3S
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Ben Coffman. A stream wanders in an oxbow shape near Liberty Bell Mountain in North Cascades National Park. Coffman says he used multiple exposures "to capture the full dynamic range of the scene."
North Cascades National Park, Oregon, United States, August 2014, Digital Camera
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Mariusz Warsinski. Attachment to memories. "Attachment to reminiscences gives a sense of security so large that it begins to dominate the truth. Many of us in these memories find peace," says Warsinski.
National Park Bory Tucholskie, Poland, May 2014, Digital Camera
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Jefflin Ling. Seri Wawasan Bridge is one of the main bridges in Putrajaya, the Malaysian federal administrative center. "I worked this picture in the ways of surrealistic," says Ling.
Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 2014, Nikon D800E
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Jefflin Ling. A house built for fishermen stands alone in the middle of the sea. "I was pleased to bring out the beauty of lonely," says Ling.
Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, April 2014, Nikon D800E
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Joyce Le Mesurier. A rainy day in Lofoten, Norway. "Lofoten is an archipelago in Norway characterized by a stunningly beautiful landscape, in particular jagged tall peaks that appear to be rising up from the fjords," says Le Mesurier.
Lofoten, Norway, February 2014, Canon EOS 5D Mark III
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Trang Nguyen. Mist blankets Ba Na Hill Station in Da Nang, Vietnam. The Ba Na Cable Car holds the world record for longest and highest non-stop single-track cable car.
Da Nang, Vietnam, April 2014, Canon EOS 6D
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Ernest Wright. Spring in Palouse, Washington
Palouse, Washington, May 2014, Nikon D200
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Az Jackson. Early morning joggers enjoy the view from the top of the Hollywood sign. "Apart from a few stray dogs, there was no one around at this early hour so I was free to explore many different scenes and felt that I got some great shots. I was half packed up and about to leave, and out of nowhere four students popped into the shot. I quickly set up and snapped just one shot of these guys looking out over the hills, and I knew immediately that this would be the shot of the day," says Jackson.
Los Angeles, California, April 2014, Digital Camera
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Jefflin Ling. Muslims walk along a retaining wall towards a mosque to pray.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 2014, Nikon D800E
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Amalia Diaz. Local band "The Frank Mustard Project" prepares to play at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas. "They are all local, whether new or legends, and that is how history of music has been written here in Austin," says Diaz.
Austin, Texas, June 2014, Nikon DF
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Dawn LaPointe. "As my husband and I stood on the shore admiring the twilight, we anticipated that a spectacular scene would unfold at sunrise," says LaPointe. "My husband, Gary Fiedler, paddled his canoe into the tranquil morning as I captured the moment with my camera."
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Ely, Minnesota, September 2014, Canon EOS 5D Mark IIEly, Minnesota
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Aidan Sellars. "Amidst America's epicenter of technological advancements, a wall of shipping containers suitably symbolizes a circuit board in the Port of Oakland," says Sellars.
Port of Oakland, California, December 2013, Nikon D800E
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Anne Marcom. Fireworks illuminate the Willamette River on the Fourth of July. "It was the first time for us watching fireworks over the Willamette River, and I didn't know what to expect," says Marcom. "But I was thrilled with the display."
Independence, Oregon, July 2014, Olympus E3
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Az Jackson. Fog creeps under the Manhattan Bridge. "I wanted to show this amazing suspension bridge in more detail from underneath, along with the iconic pylons," says Jackson.
New York, New York, May 2014, Canon EOS 5D Mark II
FINALIST: Altered Images | Photograph by Ellie Davies. Fog weaves through forest trees.
New Forest, Hampshire, United Kingdom, February 2014, Nikon D3X
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Kristen Keefer. A female construction worker leans against a truck. "Leslie is a tiny little lady who works with the big dogs," says Keefer. "Her attitude and sarcasm allow her to fit in just fine with the rough-edged construction men."
Glenwood Springs, Colorado, October 2014
FINALIST: Americana | Photography by Libby Zhang. Sunset casts light on a wheat field in Steptoe Butte State Park, Washington. "I took hundreds of shots of the wheat dancing in the wind from different angles with different exposures. My fingers just kept on clicking until it was dark," says Zhang.
Steptoe Butte State Park, Washington, June 2014, Canon EOS 6D
FINALIST: Americana | Photograph by Frank Miles Richert. While firemen were putting out a fire in Chicago, the water froze and coated everything in ice. "Earlier that morning an abandoned warehouse on the South Side had erupted in flames," says Richert. "The immense fire spread throughout the building, which was one full block in length. The outside temperatures were far below freezing, so the spray from the fire hoses essentially froze everything in its path. It was aesthetically spectacular!"
Chicago, Illinois, January 2013, Nikon D40X
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Yilang Peng. The sun rises over rice fields near the Yulong River.
Yangshuo, China, iPhone 5s
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Royce Hutain. A girl stares in wonder at an aquarium tank.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, May 2014, iPhone 5s
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Leah Brown. Bags of popcorn organized in a box
United States, October 2014, iPhone 4
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Nick DeBarmore. Wildflowers in Titcomb Basin beneath a dramatic horizon of jagged peaks
Wind River Range, Wyoming, September 2013, iPhone 5
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Jeremy Eichenlaub. "Climbing up the steps to the top of the snow and wind- blasted fire tower at the top of Okemo Mountain, the views were breathtaking," says Eichenlaub.
Ludlow, Vermont, December 2013, iPhone 4
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Sudipta Dutta Chowdhury. A child looks up in innocence amid bunches of jute sticks.
West Bengal, India, September 2014, Nokia Lumia 1520
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Yilang Peng. Reading in the National Library of China
Beijing, China, June 2014, iPhone 5s
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Rob Pearson-Wright. "A real-life Patsy Stone from British TV's 'Absolutely Fabulous,'" says Pearson-Wright.
London, United Kingdom, August 2014, Digital Camera
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Yilang Peng. A line of trees grows on a dam near Lake Tai in China.
Lake Tai, China, December 2013, iPhone 5s
FINALIST: Mobile | Photograph by Maricela Leal. Annual cattle drive in Amarillo, Texas. "It's a great family event that exposes the city's ongoing cowboy culture to newer generations and curious tourists,” says Leal.
Amarillo, Texas, December 2013, Samsung SCH-I545
FINALIST: People | Photograph by Amy Hand. "This is my baby girl, Hannah. Although my sister captures her all the time, she told me as a mother I could capture things no one else could," says Hand. "As her mother, I could capture her spirit."
Reedy, West Virginia, June 2014, Canon EOS REBEL T3
Update - Mar 31, 2015: The winners have been announced! See them here.
Smithsonian.com is excited to announce the finalists of our 12th Annual Photo Contest. Selected from over 26,500 entries, taken by photographers from 93 different countries, these photos represent our favorite shots. Our photo editors selected ten finalists per category—Natural World, Travel, People, Americana, Altered Images and Mobile—and it is up to you to determine our Readers’ Choice winner. The photograph that receives the most votes between now and March 30, at 5 p.m. ET, will receive a $500 cash prize and be announced alongside our Grand Prize and category winners on March 31.
The finalists range from a serene sunrise canoe in Minnesota to a train ride in Myanmar to a vicuña wandering the grasslands of the Andes. Some moments were sought out, others captured by chance. Dawn LaPointe was on vacation when she and her husband witnessed a spectacular fog-gilded sunrise. “The silhouette of the canoeist effortlessly gliding along the lake illustrates the solitude and serenity we cherish in the American wilderness,” she writes.
Nicolas Reusens was hiking in the jungle between Monteverde and La Fortuna, Costa Rica, when he happened upon a snake devouring a frog. While rain added drama to the scene, he struggled to keep his gear dry as he prepared to capture the moment. “I could only get around five pictures before the frog was swallowed and the snake disappeared into the deep forest,” he says. “Not until I arrived home did I realize I had taken one of my favorite shots of the whole trip.”
Votes are limited to one person per 24 hours, so please come back each day to vote again. When we announce the winners on March 31, we’ll also be opening up the 13th Annual Photo Contest, so start taking your prize-winning photographs now!