15 Amazing Finalists From Smithsonian’s 15th Annual Photo Contest

Every year, the Smithsonian.com Annual Photo Contest wows us with incredible images from around the world. The chosen pictures capture awe-inspiring scenes from nature as well as a glimpse into other cultures and their everyday lives. For its 15th year, the competition received 48,000 submissions from photographers in 155 countries and territories in six categories, including Natural World, The American Experience, Travel, People, Altered Images, and Mobile. The esteemed judges somehow narrowed this massive selection down to just 60 of the most unique and memorable photographs.

The finalists in Smithsonian.com's 15th Annual Photo Contest showcase an exciting variety of subjects. One shot, called Joy by Erika Valkovicova, features an adorable scene of a jubilant seal pup in Germany. Another image, called Boatman, is a bird's eye view of a man in India as he leisurely enjoys his newspaper on a rowboat. No matter the subject, each picture is masterfully composed and will elicit an emotional response, whether that's joy or sorrow.

Shadow Highlight© mohammad mohsenifar. All rights reserved.
Shadow Highlight
A couple of ladies are passing in front of graffiti.


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photo contest slideshow© Thong Huu. All rights reserved.

Breakfast at the Weekly Market
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.

photo contest slideshow© Tran Tuan Viet. All rights reserved.
Making Incense
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.


photo contest slideshow© Erika Valkovicova. All rights reserved.
A seal pup enjoys the morning breeze on Düne Island in Germany.

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© Pedro Jarque Krebs. All rights reserved.
The King

Griffon vulture portrait

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Rhino From Chitwan

There are about 600 rhinos in Chitwan National Park. It was a pure adventure to follow wild rhinos in their natural habitat. The main instructions, in case a rhino ran in my direction, were to climb a tree; if there was no tree, to run zigzags. The red color of the grass comes from my imagination.

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Care goes beyond gender. I went to the small slum near to my house in the morning, and I saw that this man was feeding his grandchild while his daughter, the infant's aunt, held him. It shows me something different than my society. In Bangladeshi society, care work is usually done by a female member of a family.

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The Window

During my stay at a Costa Rican hotel, I noticed that red-eyed tree frogs flooded the gardens. As I approached this frog, it climbed into one of the holes in a leaf, as if it were sticking out a window.

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My Post-Irma Street

This photo was taken right after Hurricane Irma hit Miami. This is my 5-year old son walking through our neighborhood.

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"I can cry in front of them, I can tell them my secrets. I buy them things and they calm me down. I just feel comfortable around them,” says twenty-six year old Lisa Schalm as she poses for a portrait inside of her bedroom in Brockport, New York, on Oct. 11, 2017. Lisa suffers from depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder and said that these reborn dolls are the only solution to help calm her symptoms. A reborn doll is a manufactured skin doll that has been transformed by an artist to resemble a human infant with as much realism as possible.

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