Travel Photography Scholarship 2016: The Winner

Find out which photo essays made our shortlist and see who will be heading off on an adventure to Japan!


To say that we were blown away by the breadth of photographic talent and stories from all corners of the world would be an understatement. This year, we received over 11,200 applications and viewed over 56,000 images from over 164 different countries.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their inspiring photo essays and spectacular shots. We hope you keep pursuing your passion for travel photography in 2017.

We say this every year, but selecting a winner wasn’t easy. Our challenge is to find an aspiring photographer that demonstrates a rare combination of photography skill, storytelling ability and raw potential.

We also look closely at an expressed desire to follow the path of travel photography. As the winner will embark on a scholarship assignment in Japan to learn one-on-one from a professional travel photographer Richard I’Anson, we have to consider who we think would most benefit and grow from the mentorship experience. 

Without further delay, we give you the winner of the 2016 Travel Photography Scholarship to Japan…

The Winner

Felipe Romero Beltran (Colombia) - Kadosh - (Hebrew word for sacred)

 - Kadosh - (Hebrew word for sacred)

Judge's Comments

"Congratulations to our winner, Felipe Romero Beltran, for his beautifully captured and presented series. Each image is strong in its own right (which is the key to producing a great photographic essay) but as a series reveals quite different and interesting moments in the celebrations. The photographs are well composed and captured our attention with their strong sense of immediacy created by getting in close to the action and filling the frame with the subject. The series also has an elegant visual cohesion thanks to the consistency of the muted colours and soft light in the daytime pictures - Richard I'Anson

The Runner's Up

Angel Torres Escalante (Spain) - Rapa das Bestas

Angel Torres Escalante - Rapa das Bestas

Judge's Comments

"Angel has produced a dynamic series with a strong documentary feel through tight compositions and great timing that capture and focus the viewer’s attention on the expressive faces of his subjects and the high point of the action. Great light and excellent black and white processing add to the overall quality of the entry." - Richard I'Anson

Lucas Gibson (Brazil) - Osaka Nightlife

Lucas Gibson - Osaka Nightlife

Judge's Comments

"By getting up close and personal Lucas has produced a powerful series of confronting yet intimate portraits in keeping with the attitudes his subjects are themselves expressing. The bold compositions are enhanced by harsh, contrasty light and the black and white presentation." - Richard I'Anson

Adekunle Rufai (UK) - LOVE HURTS: The Sacrifices Of Hamer Women

Adekunle Rufai - LOVE HURTS: The Sacrifices Of Hamer Women

Judge's Comments

"Mixing close up, medium and wide shots to capture quite different moments, Adekunle’s photographs work well together to shed light on various aspects of a fascinating tribal ceremony." - Richard I'Anson

Dimitri Staszewski (USA) - A Haircut for Mongolia's 'Half-Wild' Horses

Dimitri Staszewski - A Haircut for Mongolia's 'Half-Wild' Horses

Judge's Comments

"Dimitri has worked the subject well to produce an interesting series by varying his viewpoint to deliver a sequence of images that capture a range of highlights and action that bring this annual event to life." - Richard I'Anson

The Shortlist

Congratulations to the following shortlisted applicants...

Alexandra Escobar (Ecuador) - Invisible portraits in the northwestern border of Ecuador (Ecuador)

Arjun Kumar (India) - Colorful Hues of Lathmar Holi (India)

Ayodeji Oloja (Nigeria) - ELEWEOMO (Traditional Medicine Practitional) (Nigeria)

Beatriz Lizana (Spain) - Tanneries (Morocco)

Cindy Chow (USA) - Nomadic Eagle Hunters (Mongolia)

Dipankar Halder (India) - Worship of the sun. Chhat puja. (India)

Emilia Krysztofiak (Ireland) - Illegal cockfights in Bangkok, Thailand (Thailand)

Filippo Taddei (Italy) - Proud Blood (Italy)

Francesca Napoli (Italy) - Rising from waste: lives in recycle. (India)

Hamed AlGhanboosi (Oman) - Chengdu Tea Houses (China)

Iulian Ursachi (Romania) - The child buddhist monks of Tawang monastery (India)

Jess Rocco (USA) - La Crema: The Final Celebration (Spain)

Jonathan Abdipranoto (Australia) - 21st Century Nomads (Mongolia)

Juan Escobar (Colombia) - The rice growers (Indonesia)

Kagiso Onkatswitse (Botswana) - The deseret dilemma (Botswana)

Matt Bullock (UK) - Mining in nature's inferno (Indonesia)

Niladri Adhikary (India) - In the name of GOD (India)

Phongsak Norkaewmongkhon (UK) - Give more than receiving (Thailand)

Sónia Santos (Germany) - The Days When The Dead Come To Visit (Mexico)

Sebastian Esguerra (Colombia) - My Shelter's Sugar Bricks (Colombia)

Steven Schroeder (Australia) - Family Hellos, Family Good Byes - Hong Kong (Hong Kong)

Richard's Feedback

The response to this year’s photography scholarship was almost overwhelming. Over 11,200 entries were received making it the biggest response to a World Nomads scholarship ever - by a long shot, so thank you to all of you for making the effort to enter. As it is every year, the competition was fierce and unfortunately, as clichéd as it sounds, only one entry can be awarded the grand prize. The judging process was appropriately intense in order to find the entry that not only met all the criteria, but had that little something extra to set it apart.

There were many great individual photographs among the entries but when considering the photography component of each entry the judges were looking for sequences that worked well together. Many entries contained one, two or three strong images only to be let down by others that were repetitive, less relevant or too loosely connected to the theme and therefore not contributing to the telling of a compelling story. The entries that made the shortlist, had a clearly defined story to tell that was then well executed with a visually interesting balance between compositional options such as varying viewpoints and field of view, with each image adding to our knowledge of the subject. However, it is important to remember that this isn’t a photography competition and the captions that accompanied the images and your story are equally important to the judges in their quest to select the entry most worthy of the scholarship. Consequently, the short -listed entries were those that included a relevant, concise and interesting narrative that complimented the images.

I’m looking forward to travelling to Japan as World Nomad’s Photography Scholarship mentor with Felipe and working with him to help take his photography to the next level, in a fascinating country with countless opportunities to make great photographs. We’ll be working hard to produce photographs that do justice to the amazing opportunity offered by the World Nomad’s Scholarship. - Richard I'Anson

Due to the sheer amount of applications we receive for our scholarships, we do not provide individual feedback. If you would like to improve your photography in time for your next trip, please make sure to sign up for Richard I’Anson’s Travel Photography tips below.

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    • Aurialle said

      Congrats Felipe!! Amazing work, enjy your trip :)

    • Seiha Tiep said

      Many congratulations on those who win and for those who don't catch this change also do apply for next opportunity. They are nice photos and this scholarship is very inspiring to me.

    • Prosper Ababio said

      Congratulations Felipe, have fun and be awesome

    • Angel Torres said

      Congratulations Felipe! Your photographs are amazing! have fun in Japan and learn as much as possible!

    • Siddhesh Lakhan said

      Congrats to all the winners and great efforts put in by all the participants. Just went through random entries - real good talent showcased by everyone! Kudos!! ^_^

    • Sylvester Finch said

      Congrats to the winner and all the fine photographer who entered this contest. May this year bless you in all your endeavors.

    • Yusuf said

      Many congratulations to the winner, runner's up and all the shortlisted candidates for this awesome feat. Cheers to you, guys!!

    • Gaby Rivas said

      Congratulations Felipe, looking forward to see the pictures from your trip! Learn all you can from Richard

    • Tarek Elhakim said

      Congratulations for the winners and the judges. Winning pictures are perfect. Enjoy your trip

    • Syed Hussain Hyder Zaidi said

      Congratulations to the Winner and the short listed.

    • Alicia Palencia Salinas said

      Congratulations winners!!! you are so lucky. I can't wait to see the beautiful work you are going to bring from Japan. I don't know if those pictures are going to be shared in the website (hopefully). My respects to all of you I saw in this contest really awesome pictures.
      Congratulations to all of us !!! .

      I want to say THANK YOU World Nomads for such an amazing work.

    • Abelmon Bastos said

      Congratulations, Felipe!
      Wonderful series. So great!!
      I'm happy for you.
      Congratulations to all the short listed.
      God bless you!

    • Carlos Diaz Moreno said

      Congratulations to all.

      Beautiful pictures.

    • María José León said

      Felicidades Felipe!! Los mejores deseos para tu viaje :) saludos desde México!

    • Vjollca said

      Congratulations Felipe! You did a great job. Enjoy yor trip :)
      Greets from Kosovo!

    • Pablo UY said

      I feel tiny with the talent shown here.

      Congratulations for all of us and my bests to the winner, enjoy it!

    • Noemi De La Ville said

      Great work deserve it
      Felicitaciones me encantaron tus fotos, disfruta tu nueva experiencia

    • Beatriz Lizana said

      Congratulations for the winner and the shortlisted!! I wasn't expecting to see my name in the shortlist... I'm really happy for this!!

    • Melanie L said

      Such awesome photos! Congrats, Felipe, and to all the runner-ups and shortlisted winners!
      Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories and photos :D

    • Ricardo said

      I'm the good kind of jealous of you, congrats.

    • Laura said

      Congratulations to all winners. I knew a Colombian will win. Unfortunately was not me but I am happy so many Latinos and Colombians were at the top list. Vamos Colombia.

    • عبدالرحمن محمد صالح سليمان said

      Congratulations to the winners wish you new and useful experience different

    • Romulo said

      Enhorabuena, Felipe! Es una serie fantástica

    • Steven Schroeder said

      Congratulations Felipe! And to all the runners-up and shortlisted photographers as well. Amazing photos!

    • Gloria Cuberos said

      Felicitaciones Felipe, muy buen trabajo. Saludos desde Bogotá. G

    • Venkat said

      Fantastic pictures that deserve to win! Congratulations to the winner, the runners up and the shortlisted photographers. Maybe someday I will make the cut. :)

    • Simone said

      I really can't understand the way they judged the pictures...
      I'm really upset about it, probably they didn't even watch all the works and the photos.

    • Allen Riquelme said

      Congrats, Felipe! You deserve it! Amazing and compelling photos! Hope you have an incredible time in Japan! :D

    • Rachel said

      Congratulations Felipe, a really cool series of photos! and congrats to the runners up! Can't wait to see some of the photos you take in Japan, I am assuming they will be posted on the world nomad Instagram? :)

    • Nourhan said

      Congratulations to every one!🎉🎊🎊🎉

    • João de Figueiredo said

      Muitos Parabéns aos vencedores e ao resto dos concorrentes!!!

    • Leonard said

      Congratulation, winners! Mine are not chosen, maybe the next one.

    • Holly Thody said

      Amazing Stuff!
      Enjoying looking at them all,
      Inspiring and gives a benchmark for future photography.. Thanks to the Winners and Runners up, and everyone that had the courage to take part. :D

    • Leo said

      Congrats....although I understand that this contest is only open to professionals, What a pity!

    • jamal said

      happy for the winner :D enjoy your trip and take alot of pictures to show us the beautiful JAPAN, nice competition,,,thank you :)

    • Shefrany Núñez said

      Felicidades a los ganadores, excelente trabajo! / Congratulation winners! Great job!

    • Carlos Carranza said

      Felicitaciones compatriota! Disfruta de ese maravilloso viaje y cumple el sueño de todos los que participamos. Haz hecho un trabajo espectacular, muy merecido!

    • Armen from Armenia said

      Congratulations to the winners.
      Սրտանց շնորհավորում եմ:
      Կեցցե Հայաստանը:Կեցցե Հայ ժողովուրդը:
      Կեցցե ազատ Արցախը, որը միշտ եղել է և կլինի հայկական:

    • Maria Antonieta Garcia Restrepo said

      ¡Felicitaciones! Que alegría que el premio se lo den a un compatriota. Muy merecido, que fotos tan espectaculares. Disfruta tu viaje Felipe :)

    • Cristina said

      The worst thing is that they don't even give u a feedback , they only put: The others work were bad(with political correct words).

      Probably they don't make thw effort to take a look all the works.

      The most hypocrite thing is that they said "It's not a competition" 😂😂😂

    • Mohammad Al-rawadeah said

      Congratulations to the winer's .... At really I wished to go on these trip but it doesn't happen ... Thank u .

    • Hatem Kotb said

      Wow, congratulations Felipe! Enjoy your trip InshaAllah (^_^).
      Good job to everyone who participated .. It was a pleasure to be part of this :-).

    • Kenneth Dingle said

      Amazing photos! Great work and congratulations Felipe!

    • Othman Michuzi said

      Congratulations to the winer's and all the best.....

      Thank you.

    • Noemie said

      Congrats to the winners!
      Is gonna be an amazing and a blast experience for all of you.

    • Ayoubisp said

      Congratulation to the winners and good luck for us

    • Errie said

      Congratulation felipe.. and others winner... i believe you will great picture in Japan. 😊 ... can't wait to see all your photos...

    • Carlos javier said

      Congratulations to the winners, we´ve talent in Colombia, cool Felipe!!

    • Sonia said

      Love the captures, the colours and the story...great job Felipe and congrats!!!

    • Farah Rashdan said

      Congratulations! We are all here to capture our lives within a lense! Have a great time!

    • Mahmoud Abdelmeguid said

      Firstly i congrates to all the winner HOPING to be one of them.

      But i need to say if u encourage just the wonderful photographer that he is already great shotter, where is the plaxe of those who really need that encourage to their real photographic love and inspiration ??

    • Dr. W said

      Congratulations! I cannot wait to see the shots from the trip!

    • Jade Elgersma said

      I am a budding photographer, and I would love the opportunity to learn as much as I can whenever I can! Thank you.

    • Ahmed Fekry said

      Congratulations to all winners

    • Sergio ´Checho´ Jiménez Campos said

      Congratulations to all of the applicants for believing in the power of photography, and thank you for the opportunity to go beyond in our work, this project really taught me that when we love in what we do there are no boundaries for anyone, Pura Vida from Costa Rica and if you want to keep in touch please see our work from Costa Rica here

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