If you ever wanted to take a look at something to make you feel entirely inadequate, the Smithsonian Photo Competition fits the bill.
You might have spent days or even weeks touching up your best snaps, whether on your phone or on a professional camera, and you’ll not have come close to the quality on show here.
Smithsonian Magazine received more than 48,000 submissions from photographers in more than 150 countries for its 15th annual competition, and the eight winners are truly stunning.
They are divided into eight categories: the Grand Prize, Readers’ Choice, Natural World, The American Experience, Travel, People, Altered Images and Mobile. The full gallery can be found here, but these are the winning entries along with the descriptions included on Smithsonian.com
Grand Prize: ‘Breakfast at the Weekly Market’ by Thong Huu
“In northern Vietnam, people come to the weekly market to exchange goods and culture. They usually wake up very early to go to market and have breakfast here.”
Readers’ Choice: ‘Rare’ by Sara Jacoby
“This is Maggie. She has two rare chromosome duplications, one of which she’s the only child on record to have. This photo captures not only her vulnerability, but also the magnitude of the science for which we are so grateful. A little girl and her “Gigi” already way too familiar with hospitals and doctors offices than any child should be.”
Natural World: ‘Pinnacle of Existence’ by Oreon Strusinski
“Energy travels hundreds of miles across the ocean and comes to a dramatic end when it reaches our shores.”
The American Experience: ‘Backflip Submission’ by Dan Fenstermacher
“A wrestler does a backflip off the ropes of a wrestling ring in an attempt to defeat an opponent.”
Travel: ‘Making Incense’ by Tran Tuan Viet
“Decoratively dyed bundles of incense dry in Quang Phu Cau, a commune in Hanoi, Vietnam. In Buddhist countries like Vietnam, incense is an irreplaceable part of traditional festivals and religious ceremonies.”
People: ‘Rain’ by Seyed Mohamed Sadegh Hosseini
“Niloofar is an Iranian nomad girl living in the Babanajm nomad region south of Shiraz city in Fars Province, Iran.”
Altered Images: ‘Stairs’ by Adam Żądło
“There are not many other animals as productive as sheep. They give us wool, milk, meat. Their memoirs are usually short. The pool of names is repeated every two years on our farm. We have already had two Queens, three Theos and four Fables.”
Mobile: ‘Shadow Highlight’ by Mohammad Mohsenifar
“A couple of ladies are passing in front of graffiti.”
With nearly 50,000 entries, there were always likely to be some great entries which missed out on top honours.
Here are a few of the other featured entries:
Natural World: ‘Joy’ by Erika Valkovicova
“A seal pup enjoys the morning breeze on Düne Island in Germany.”
People: ‘Ronja on the Day of Her Confirmation Ceremony’ by Silvia Varela
“Ronja grew up as the only girl on the remote and enigmatic island of Mykines, the westernmost of the Faroe Islands and home to some of the richest bird cliffs in the world. Her confirmation was the first to be celebrated in Mykines since 1962 because no young people had lived permanently on the island since then.”
The American Experience: ‘After a Long Day’ by Geoffrey Giller
“At the end of the night—after the after-party and the after-after-party—in, yes, the hotel lobby, the bride and groom finally retire to their room. This is the last glimpse of the bride before the door shut.”
Mobile: ‘NYC’ by Tatiana Borodina
“This picture was taken during the New Year holiday in NYC from the Roosevelt Island aerial tramway. Despite the rain, there is a festive mood in the frame. Raindrops resemble Christmas balls.”
People: ‘Green’ by Gareth Bragdon
“A vendor at a fun fair in The Meadows, Edinburgh”
If you’ve looked at the above photos and think you could do better, entries are already open for the 2018 competition. Find out more here.
(Images courtesy of The Smithsonian, copyright the respective photographers)